Hugh wassall

Getting to know Burg's Gender & Sexuality Education Advocates: Hugh Wassall - Men*’s Portfolio

I have always been deeply interested in conversations that dissect gender and sexuality. From a young age, I found myself hiding interests I possessed because I thought they fell outside the scope of my gender identity. As I thought more about the topic, it became increasingly clear that interests, behaviours, and quirks are not inherently gendered. No way in which I act and express myself should ever compromise my manhood. Upon entering Burgmann College, it became clear that the men*’s GSEA role was closely linked with these passions. I have always engaged in conversations surrounding gender, sexuality, and culture with my friends and peers. However, this role would provide me with a platform to express these topics to a wider range of people, and on a more regular basis. I made the decision to run for the role after Culture Nights in term 3, 2022. Getting to share my opinions with my floor was a really empowering and validating experience which gave me a sense of security in a time where college life felt particularly turbulent. I felt excited by the prospect of getting to run nights like those in the future and to have more opportunities to hear a wide range of insights in the Burgmann community.

Upon accepting the role, there have been numerous challenges. I have found it particularly challenging to represent a wide range of male-identifying, masc-aligned, and non-binary residents. Burgmann is full of diverse people who possess unique experiences, belief systems, and approaches to challenges. I can only speak for myself; I cannot speak on behalf of other people’s human experiences when they are nuanced and personalised by nature. In my educative forums, I have tried my hardest to give everybody the opportunity to share their own perspectives, irrespective of if it complements or contradicts my own views. I believe that everything to do with gender expression, sexuality, Burgmann culture, and masculinity is not grounded in fact. They are experiential topics to which I do not hold the solutions. To avoid speaking on behalf of everybody, I have aimed to be a facilitator of discussion, rather than somebody who declares what is right and wrong.

Semester 1 Nights In has been a highlight of this role so far. Having people approach me saying that they felt empowered by the night was something I was not expecting to achieve, yet it was so rewarding to hear. I really enjoyed creating an environment where people felt comfortable to express their opinions, share personal stories, and bond with their peers. I wanted to ensure that with these nights, I struck a balance between talking about both the toxicity and positivity that is attributed to masculinity. I believe these conversations were beneficial for the community, as there are not often opportunities for autonomous spaces where these discussions can run smoothly. These conversations do not finish when the events conclude; I hope that these discussions continue to permeate the Burgmann community in a positive and insightful way.

Note: Mens* refers to men, masc-aligned and non-binary

Hugh wassall
Hugh Wassall
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