Homophobia and transphobia at Glittoris

Glittoris, the Student Union’s flagship LGBT+ club night, has come under fire this term after a series of homophobic and transphobic incidents left LGBT+ students questioning if it is really being run for them.

Despite marketing for the event that depicts LGBT+ icons and advertises the presence of drag queens, some students seem unaware that homophobia is unacceptable at such an event. A spokesperson for the Union made clear that ‘Glittoris is an LGBT event’ and the Union’s Facebook event for the Christmas Glittoris on 8th December states ‘only LGBT+ and respectful allies need attend.’

Nonetheless, the LGBT+ network has received reports of two women being filmed while kissing, and a bizarre anti-Semitic and transphobic rant about “the Jews” pushing “the trans agenda” that took place in the Phineas toilets. Only the latter was reported to the Union.

Though initially a small event, Glittoris has grown significantly in popularity since its inception. An LGBT+ network committee member said, ‘we are quite lucky that we have a Union who are at least willing to organise it for us … but that doesn’t mean we should settle for something that … can facilitate harm to members of our community.’

A spokesperson for the Union told The Cheese Grater that ‘Glittoris is our longest running Phineas clubnight [sic] so it’s got a high profile.’ A member of the LGBT+ committee speculated that the prominence of Glittoris and lack of other options at UCL bars have pushed students who may not choose to attend an LGBT+ night towards it — ‘because it’s the only club-esque night left at UCL really, everyone turns up.’

Of course, by virtue of being in London, LGBT+ students at UCL who are unhappy with Glittoris have access to club nights at a variety of other venues. However, the attraction of Union-organised events is that they are, unlike many nightlife options, affordable for students.

The Union is working to introduce club nights that cater to a wider range of students, including a hip-hop and a K-pop night. The LGBT+ network told The Cheese Grater they would welcome these events as a step towards resolving the issue, although they will take time to grow to the stature of Glittoris.

A Zero Tolerance policy for all forms of discriminatory behaviour is in place at all Union venues, but this is unenforceable if incidents of discrimination go unreported. Unfortunately, many students appear to mistrust reporting procedures. Historically, these have been bureaucratic and unaccountable, with students often never discovering the outcome of their complaint, and unclear forms designed for too many purposes. The new Union hate crime reporting procedure is an attempt to address many of these concerns.

A spokesperson for the Union said, ‘if you experience or witness any kind of homophobic or transphobic incident at Glittoris or at any of our events or in any of our venues – please report it. If you don’t feel able to report it at the time, we have a hate crime reporting centre on our website where you can report anonymously. Our spaces are Zero Tolerance to any kind of harassment.’

An earlier version of this article stated that neither of the discriminatory incidents that the LGBT+ Network described as taking place at Glittoris was reported to the Union.

Sasha Baker

This article appeared in CG Issue 64.