SAMRU club shows that representation matters
Analyzing queer portrayals in media with MRU event ‘Pop Culture Queered’
By Amber McLinden, Features Editor
Last year’s queer book club, hosted by the MRU Pride Centre, has evolved into something else this year. ‘Pop Culture Queered’ is the new title of the event, focusing on things other than literature, including film and music.
“It’s really important to see people who are successful in these kind of big deal areas of like music and TV and they’re doing really well for themselves,” says Nathan Lawley, a member of the committee for relationships, identity and sex planning and implementation, who was part of coming up with the idea for the book club, and later the event it evolved into.
“They grew up, you know, the same as we did, trying to figure out what they are and who they are and what to do about it, and lots of them have similar stories to people who are still going through that today,” he adds.
The event, which happens every Tuesday, is an exploration of queer people in pop culture and finding both positive and negative representation. This includes examining things like film, music, and this month, literature, beginning with slam poetry.
Lawley explains what the point is of talking about these topics. “Why we wanted to start having these discussions on campus is because there’s a really good queer community on campus but lots of the time people don’t know where to go to find role models in general media.”
“For me personally, when I was coming out in high school, it was really important finding queer books.” But Lawley and others saw that the book club could be limiting for students who wanted to join in at various times throughout the semester, or drop in on a conversation.
That’s when ‘Pop Culture Queered’ was brought to life, and Lawley hopes it creates a space for discussion.
“We wanted to bring that conversation to campus, and also for people who aren’t part of the queer community as well. It’s an open space for them to come and learn and see where they can learn more about queer people by seeing their stories and lots of those things.”
Not all representations the group plan to discuss are positive, and it’s part of the reason it’s vital to have the event happen on campus.
“It’s really important to look at misrepresentation because it shows where there’s opportunity for people to do better,” says Lawley.
“Mount Royal is a school, and it’s a perfect place to learn about things outside of the classroom too.”
“We have journalism students here, we have broadcasting, and things like that, where these students are going to go out into the world and be telling queer stories maybe in the media, and so it’s important to see where we can do better, and us as the up and coming generation can do better in telling queer stories even if you aren’t in the community.”
Lawley invites anyone who’s interested to attend the event, which happens every Tuesday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.