Increased diversity and broadmindedness
Translation: Ásdís Sól Ágústsdóttir
Sólveig Daðadóttir is on the board of Q, the Queer Student Association, and is the group’s educational officer. She is 21 years old and in her second year studying applied mathematics at the University of Iceland. Sólveig is also a peer counsellor for Samtökin ‘78. The other day, the two of us met up at Háskólatorg to discuss the Queer Student Association.
The Gay Student Association was established in late January 1999. The association generated a lot of buzz, because it was the first association for queer people at an Icelandic university.
Roughly 200 people attended the founding meeting, which reflected the need for such a group. The goal was to open up the discussion on gay rights as well as create a forum where people could meet and be themselves in a safe space. At first, Q was meant only for students, but this changed with time, and now the association welcomes everyone. The association depends on volunteer work and all board members are volunteers.
In 2008, the name of the association was formally changed to Q (Q stands for “queer,” translated as “hinsegin” in Icelandic). With this change, the group was no longer associated only with homosexuals, but grew to encompass all those identifying as queer. Q therefore became the first association in Iceland to formally adopt the word “hinsegin” in its name.
Q is the association of queer students and protects queer rights. Sólveig says that one need not be a student or queer to be a member. Most members are indeed young people between 18 and 30 years old who identify as queer. The association’s main focus is on educating, fighting for queer rights, and working to increase equality in society. All are welcome to attend Q’s events and people are encouraged to familiarize themselves with the group’s activities and perhaps check out a movie night or come to one of their lectures, all of which are generally free.
The association has three goals: to open up the dialogue on queer rights, to provide a space where queers can meet up and do something enjoyable, and to educate the public on what it means to be queer. For a long time, education on queer issues has been lacking, and this is one thing Q wants to change. They offer evening lectures and student field trips that have become very popular. Their evening lectures are frequent and their subjects diverse. One of the most popular topics is queer sex education. There are presentations from board members and from the sex toy shop Blush, and each guest leaves with a complimentary gift bag.
As mentioned before, Q’s student field trips (i: vísindaferðir) are extremely popular. As a matter of fact, the upcoming semester is already fully booked. The high level of interest in these events reflects how willing students are to learn about the diversity of the queer community and underscores the importance of Q offering educational opportunities for other student organizations. It’s not only student groups from the University of Iceland who are signing up for these trips; students from other schools have started joining in.
The association has more to offer than just student trips and education. Q regularly hosts two Friday night events each month, such as a movie night, and other events include art evenings, game nights, and more.
Q has grown stronger over the past few years as changes in society have created a more favorable environment for increasing diversity and tolerance. Q’s goals for the future are to continue to provide a safe space for queers and to encourage solidarity in the fight for equal rights. The association creates a forum for queers to get to know each other and be themselves in a secure environment. It will be fun to follow along and watch the organization grow and thrive over the coming years.
For information on upcoming events, see Q’s Facebook page. You can also sign up to be a member on their website, queer.is.