“Since July, I am the Vice Chair of True U which is the LGBTIQ+ network for the employees of TU Delft. We also extend our care to students and the entire campus community. We organise events like workshops and panel discussions to try and raise awareness on campus, and we give solicited and unsolicited advice to the Executive Board. We also work together with queer networks in other Dutch universities and international organisations like Workplace Pride on how to create inclusion in the workplace.
From 3-6 October, TU Delft will host the annual Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Week. This year’s theme is Road to Equity: From Awareness to Empowerment. True U will be involved in two different events, one which is a panel discussion called Reclaiming Our Narrative: Safeguarding the Queer Community from Far-Right Hijacking. Recently, we have seen a few attacks on queer communities, even in the Netherlands. For example, they burned the flag outside DWH, Delft’s LGBTIQ+ association. There are different elements that we need to focus on, like fear in the queer community and people’s rights being attacked. At the event we will invite speakers who specialise in queer theories and talk about how we go forward. It is open for students, staff, everyone.
The second event is in collaboration with X and it’s more of a fun and learning event. It's called Drag Xperience. There will be a fun workshop where a small group of people can register to be made up like drag queens by professional make-up artists. Then there will be a panel discussion with professional drag queens and representatives from X, True U and Outsite talking about the culture and the challenges and discrimination they face in society.
A major motivation for these events is that people should feel safe, that’s the priority. They should also have clear role models and they should know that everyone is welcome on this campus. If people can be true to themselves, they'll be able to perform well in their studies or in their work. We need more allies in the community to achieve this.
‘Since I came out, I've been living a happy life here’
On a personal note, I come from former colonies, two different countries where queer rights are curbed and even punishable by imprisonment during my time there. It has been almost four years since I last travelled to my home. There are so many queer immigrants who escape such kind of countries and come to the Netherlands for a better life. I publicly came out for the first time six months back, here at the Faculty of Aerospace Engineering Diversity & Inclusion event. My coming out was difficult because I was previously forced into an arranged marriage, but luckily my wedding was cancelled at the last moment. Since I came out, I've been living a happy life here. I would say that the people here really helped me a lot. I found many role models, especially Julien van Campen and Leon Hombergen, along with many wonderful people on our campus. They helped me to come out and start doing something for the welfare of the marginalised people. Now I have dedicated my life to education and inclusivity.
We are entering the era of ‘intersectionality’, a key word which is getting more attention these days. When we talk about diversity, we have like 16 or 17 different elements, like race, gender, sexuality, class, ethnicity, physical ability, neurodiversity and many more. We cannot separate sexuality alone because it is combined with other elements like race, gender, and physical ability. My focus with True U is also more on this intersectionality aspect and how we can help these intersectional people.
I also focus on the mental wellness of queer people, queer students, and staff. I feel like that is extremely important, especially for queer immigrants. We see that Dutch society and TU Delft are doing a good job with respect to queer inclusivity. Even small things like raising the Pride Progress flag in front of the Aula make a big difference on campus. But it’s also important to remember that we have hundreds of people at TU Delft who come from countries that lack queer education. It would be helpful if we could combine diversity, equity, and inclusion with the engineering education, as it is one of TU Delft’s core values. Those core values are diversity, integrity, respect, engagement, courage, and trust. We think this can foster a more inclusive culture on campus.”
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