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LGBT+ memes take centre stage in the SU

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The Student Union played host to an exhibition of memes about LGBT+ culture on Tuesday, February 20 as part of the University’s LGBT+ History Month. 

The installation featured walls plastered with memes that depict the ways in which people that are LGBT+ are represented on social media. 

Portia Ungley, art design and history practice lecturer and organiser of the event, said: “There has been a distinct shift over the last couple of years and [this event] was something that I thought was useful because it’s kind of the ‘easy face’ for those who aren’t specifically engaged with the community. 

“I’ve been here since I was an undergrad and one of the reasons I love this place so much is because of the inclusivity. You can be who you want to be here, and more of this is what we need to make sure no one feels victimised.” 

The exhibition was accompanied by a talk by Professor Will Brooker called ‘David Bowie: Gay, Straight, Both or Neither’ and also a talk with actress, voice coach, comedian and trans advocate Rebecca Root about what it means to be ‘out and proud’ today. 

Ungley, who is also the Director of Learning and Teaching for the School of Critical Studies and Creative Industries at Kingston School of Art, said: “Some of the memes are more problematic than others and that’s something that I’m working on.  

“The use of particular types of language – is it acceptable to say that somebody is gay? Well, yes. I have a meme in which someone self-refers to as a ‘faggot’ and obviously that’s quite problematic for a lot of gay people. 

“How do you deal with something which is specifically meant to be humorous and accessible but actually can cause quite a lot of offence if it’s not thought about quite carefully?” 

Some of Ungley’s students helped with creating the exhibition, including first year Ellie Buchanan who said: “We wanted to get involved in the exhibition as much as possible because that’s what we’re studying.”

Ungley added: “There’s a university-level commitment to this, which is really important. 

“The more that it’s talked about, the more that it’s visible, the less likely we are to be in a situation where homophobia exists in this university.” 

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