CARLA VISAGIE

THE QueerUS society hosted a se- ries of events from 7 to 10 May to create a space for the queer com- munity to express themselves. “[The week was] in reference to the homophobic primary school joke “Ag Mei”, so it’s like we’re claim- ing the word and took it back just like we’ve done with the word queer and now we are using it positively,”said Paul Joubert, vice-chair of QueerUS.

Ag Mei week kicked off withtwo discussion platforms to provide an opportunity to engage about gender and identity. Brave Space was held on 7 May and, according to Joubert, the discus- sion was “open to allies to hear queer narratives and ask questions that would be otherwise uncomfortable”.

Safe Space was held on eight May, which is a weekly tra- dition of QueerUS to provide an opportunity for the queer community to come together and share their ex- periences with each other.

“Everyone is always together when QueerUS comes together because it is a space where we see each other and we become friends very easily because you know this person understands what you are going through and to share your experiences with each other so every time QueerUS comes together it feels like some- thing special. We set the expec-tations for people to be differentso you don’t have to sensor your weirdness and your otherness,” Joubert said.

The events continued on Thursday with an event that was hosted in collaboration with UNASA, where there was speed dating to meet new people and a screening of While you weren’t looking, a South African queer movie.

A discussion on being part of the queer community followed. The week concluded with a picnic on the grass in front of the Neelsie on Friday.

According to Tshegofatso Matsha, a third year BA (Humanities) student who attended the picnic, the Ag Mei week is a way of normalising being queer and increasing visibility of the queer community.

“I think the visibility [that is created by the eight May week] shows people that [we’re] allowed to be queer and associate with other people that [are] queer.

It is important [to have such a week] because there is still a lot of stigma, stereotypes and hatred towards the queer community. Thus the week shows gay isn’t a disease and it is okay to exist and be part of the queer community,” Matsha said.