Matthew Bessant

The fifth episode of this season’s Switchboard is in honour of Pride Month, which spans all of June and celebrates LGBTQ+ individuals and communities across the world, including here at Cambridge. This week, Izzy is joined by Ted as they hear from Cambridge students about their experiences finding queer spaces and communities, as well as the work many of them are doing as LGBTQ+ officers for their College JCRs. 

The podcast opens with the introduction of Ted, who is the LGBTQ+ Officer at Selwyn and a first year Natural Sciences student. He talks about how he got into the role because he wanted to help fellow students from a welfare perspective. However, he also realised that there is quite a lot of activism to be done and a lot of change that he wanted to make within the College.

Ted discusses the work which he is trying to organise for next year’s freshers, such as speakers and social events to bring the queer student community together. He also mentions that he is trying to introduce a similar organisation to the LGBTQ+ family scheme exclusively for Selwyn students. The introduction concludes with a conversation about the importance of celebrating Pride.

Catch up on last week's episode

The hosts then interview Adnaan Ali, who is the LGBTQ+ Officer at Clare and studies MML. Adnaan mentions how he wanted to be an LGBTQ+ officer after he noticed that the Cambridge queer scene was dominated by white, cisgender, gay men and was not representative of identites outside that, such as his own. He talks about how he wanted to help make change: not just in Clare, but university wide, as a person of colour and a member of the LGBTQ+ community.

Adnaan also mentions the importance of intercollegiate events, such as the LGBTQ+ Formal at Clare in October. He discusses Clare College’s plans for Pride Month, including the tentative hopes for some in person events. The conversation then moves on to discuss Adnaan’s ‘internalised queerphobia’, the environment that he grew up in and how it differs from the environment in Cambridge. The group discusses how there is still a lot of change that needs to be made to achieve complete equality, however university can be a chance to connect with more LGBTQ+ people beyond the ‘white, cisgender male’. 

Next, Izzy and Ted interview Ines Magré, who is a first year HSPS student at Homerton. Ines discusses her experiences getting involved in LGBTQ+ societies over the past year, showing the strength of the community even though it has been socially-distanced. All being first years, the group compares experiences at Homerton vs those at Selwyn, concluding with the promising acceptance that they have seen within the Cambridge community. Ines and the hosts talk about what Pride Month means to them, and Ines also discusses her experience at school before coming to Cambridge, and the change of environment which the university provided.


Mountain View

Queer imposter syndrome?

Finally, the hosts talk to Ollie Miller, a third year student from Gonville and Caius who studies Linguistics. Ollie discusses the pros and cons of the Cambridge queer nightlife, and his own endeavours organising an event in the recently-deceased Fez. The group highlights that Cambridge has previously been deemed the university with the largest proportion of LGBTQ+-identifying students, however there is very little besides Vinyl’s Glitterbomb event to cater for them.

Whilst spilling the thought processes behind taking matters into his own hands to organise Sweat, a club takeover platforming queer DJs and queer musicians, Ollie also mentions Playtime, which is directed towards platforming women and non-binary DJs, as an inspiration. The interview moves on to the importance of queer spaces in providing a place to be comfortable and discover yourself, before closing with an appreciation for those living openly queer lives in the Cambridge community. As Ollie quotes from a forgotten source: ‘If you can see it, you can be it.’

Switchboard is Varsity’s flagship podcast. Episodes are broadcasted every Friday at 8:30pm on Cam FM, and are available on all major podcasting apps via Anchor. Transcript will be available here after the episode’s release.