Week 10 is LGBT+ Awareness week in St Andrews and Astrosoc, together with SAINTS LGBT+, Physoc and EASy held a collaborative event at the Observatory. It was pouring rain (one of the heaviest yet this semester) so it was impossible to actually stargaze through the telescopes, but many people braved the rain and joined us.
Chris Hooley was present, bringing his jovial self and giving us a short informal talk about what it is like to be LGBT+ in STEM. One of the key messages was that today, perhaps more than ever, we have to challenge neutrality in our environment - just because something isn't obviously anti-LGBT doesn't mean it is inclusive. In fact, many times, what we may think of as a neutral situation, might instead be straight. Looking at STEM, this could be seen in curricula that do not reflect LGBT+ and inclusivity - from not acknowledging the diversity in nature, to not recognising or including the lives and work of LGBT+ individuals on the field.
On a final note, Chris emphasised society's need for playfulness, including at our universities. And who better to make sure that playfulness is present, if not the LGBT+ community? The talk was followed by more mingling and the serving of our Gay Colin Caterpillars. It was lovely to see everyone talking and having fun, bringing a sense of calm community before the hectic exam period.