By Kim Linden
MELBOURNE The Queer Collaborations conference — organised by and for lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgenderists and their supporters — will be held here July 10-14.
Cameron Cutts, a member of the conference organising collective, said, "Queer Collaborations was originally a Sydney-based student networking organisation which, over the last five years, has developed into an annual national conference.
"These conferences are forums for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transvestite, transgender and other queer students and their comrades. We'll be discussing issues not normally addressed in the gay-male-dominated media, particularly around queers, gays, lesbians and political struggles."
Queer Collaborations, Cutts continued, "is also about challenging the fixed ideas about sexuality that are perpetuated by mainstream capitalism. It's about working out strategies to make sure that queer politics is seen as important for the liberation of all people."
The conference theme is "Heresy". "The reason it was chosen is important", Cutts explained. "Women were once burned as witches, heretics. When these women were burned, gay men were rolled in sticks and used as kindling at the base of the burning women. These gay men were called faggots.
"We thought it was appropriate to use the theme because a lot of the stuff that we'll be talking about will be heretical to the mainstream capitalists. We'll be treading on a lot of people's toes."
Plenaries and workshops will cover queer identity, queer politics, queers and the law, queer arts, queer activism, queer family, queers and body image and queer media. There will be a rally or action in the city on July 11 in the afternoon and a day of fun, relaxation and socialising on July 12.
Cutts said it's hoped the conference will lead to "some sort of national network of queer people who are committed to a range of radical left politics, not just queer politics, because it is important to be in solidarity with other struggles. We hope it will inspire those on the left to be in solidarity with queers as well. Queers have always supported left struggles but sometimes this support has not been reciprocated."
The conference will be held at the Lyle lecture theatre in the Redmond Barry Building, University of Melbourne. Registration, which is free, begins at 9.30am on July 10, and is open throughout the conference. For further information phone Cameron on (03) 9344 4816.