St Antony’s annual HalloQueen bop has attracted criticism from its own LGBTQA community, provoking allegations about anti-sexual assault awareness.
Last week, St. Antony’s LGBTQA and Men’s Officer hosted Queer Pride/Queer Rage, a festival of discussion panels, films, and lectures on LGBTQ issues. The event fell the week before HalloQueen, a popular drag-themed bop that took place on Saturday 2nd November.
In a welcome speech on the first night of Queer Pride/Queer Rage, the LGBTQA officer stated, “Queer Pride/Queer Rage started as a response to HalloQueen, as a protest to the lack of organizing initiative to include trans voices, as a resistance to the gender binary that the event enforces, and a party that rides of the back of queer history without acknowledge or respecting this history.”
He cited transgender people and those who do not identify as male or female as potential targets of discrimination or harassment at a drag-related event organised for the student body as a whole.
He alleged that the HalloQueen student organisers and the St Antony’s GCR executive avoided consulting him or the LGBT Society in the planning of an event related to issues that face the LGBTQ community. He emphasised the need for inclusivity, and stressed that he felt St Antony’s was too focused on planning the party to address LGBTQ concerns.
“Queerphobia and transphobia is not question about logistics, but a question of survival,” the LGBTQA Officer said. He added that he did not attend the bop last year, finding it upsetting and unrepresentative of his community.
According to its corresponding Facebook event, over two hundred people attended Queer Pride/Queer Rage. Discussions ranged from the history of queer sexuality to BDSM, featuring speakers including artists, sex workers, Oxford academics, filmmakers, and activists.
At HalloQueen, there was one instance of sexual harassment, which resulted in the perpetrator being ejected from the bop. The college recently introduced a Safer Spaces policy that condemns sexual harassment, including that related to sex and sexual orientation.
GCR President Emma Lecavalier stated that this process had been delayed for several months by the St Antony’s VP Welfare position being vacant, but that the college ensured the Safer Spaces policy was in place for this year’s HalloQueen.
As part of the Safer Spaces initiative, Lecavalier told Cherwell that five members of a Welfare Team were on duty at HalloQueen this year to patrol for harassment and assist partygoers who felt unsafe.
She said, “We are very proud of the work that everyone did for this bop ensuring the indiscriminate safety of every single person present at the bop. Some of the volunteers even went so far as to accompany people home, call their parents, wake up wardens, and take other measures to ensure their complete safe return home.”
A former St Antony’s student who has attended HalloQueen the past two years stated, “On Halloween, we traditionally dress up as monsters. It’s therefore possible that people would interpret HalloQueen as trivialising trans issues. But it’s never felt like an unsafe environment to me.”