We are really proud of Voices@Karls for receiving
The Stonewall Legacy Label is a seal of quality for projects, organizations, activists, and businesses that keep the Stonewall legacy alive.
The courageous and brave people who fought in the Stonewall riots in 1969 have changed the lives of uncountable LGBTQ+ individuals forever. They created a solid foundation for a new era of LGBTQ+ people, that inspires the work of so many projects, activists and businesses today.
Within their extensive evaluation process, they check if or to what extent the nominees meet the criteria. One of the highest priorities is to ensure a high-quality evaluation process that enables them to get a deep insight into the work of the respective entity or activist.
To talk a bit about the whole process, Prof. Dr. Ella Roininen, representing the Voices@Karls initiative gave us a lovely interview.
Ella: Nick Campbell actually started the process for the nomination at Stonewall. Nick is a former student, who was a member of VOICES, when we first started with VOICES in 2019. And Nick was part of the Pride team as well. I also worked with Nick on the thesis and the supervision of theses and an internship. When they moved on to professional life, one of the projects they were working for was the Stonewall Legacy label, and Nick contacted me and asked if we would like to be part of the project. So that’s how I got contacted with this, and so of course, we were excited about it because I had already looked, here to another LGBTQ auditing process for organizations. It’s called a prouder audit and it was an extremely extensive, and labor-intensive process.
I agreed that we would complete this audit. For this audit, then with the next questionnaire, we described what VOICES is doing, where we belong, what our legal status is, what our goals are, and how we are financially structured. Our founding story was in the questionnaire as well as how we are reaching out, what our goals are, how we are reaching our biggest milestones, what our core values are, how many members we have, and some other administrative questions as well. This was the first part of the project, then I filled it out with the rest of the VOICES team so I can see if they are buying into the questionnaire as well, if they agreed with what I was saying about our initiative.
The whole team of VOICES was involved in the process?
Ella: Yeah, they were involved, I filled out the questionnaire because well, obviously we have changing members because we are a student initiative so there are students who can get involved with VOICES, but even then, they can only be there mostly for two years because students go abroad, or they do their internship, or the thesis so they don´t have the time to be highly active anymore. So, I am always there, even though it is run by students, I’m always acting there in the background and that’s how I was in a big position to fill out the questionnaire, but also share it with everybody. Together with some people and founding members. So, people that were there from 2019 dealing more with us, were more involved in the process.
Did they take part in the Interview as well?
Ella: No, the students, members of VOICES, they all filled out another questionnaire about how they are feeling being members of VOICES. And this went really well. As you said already, that this is important for the award as well. So, everybody that wants to be a member has the chance to fill out this questionnaire and voice themselves.
After that, I had the interview with Nick, where we went more into detail about the questions but also because we were a pilot initiative, to be awarded, Nick also asked me about the process. Specifically, how I felt about the questionnaire, how I experienced the process, what I would improve, and so forth, so I could also support its development.
That’s great! What would you say about the work that can potentially be done for VOICES in the future, or for the Karls?
Ella: I think first and foremost it’s a recognition of what we have done. We recognize it every day. I know it already by having all these Pride flags. VOICES is not just an LGBTQ initiative, but Pride is definitely our flagship event, and through the Pride events, we can understand much more about LGBTQ topics concerning LGBTQ people and communities, in additon to the worldwide politics, worldwide human rights situations, of queer people, culture, and art. We have been involved a lot with them. In the frame of the Pride Event also within arts and culture, and just the people of the LGBTQ community. We see in how students express themselves, how students can talk about their identities and their being, maybe, a non-binary or queer person. So, in a way, the organization doesn’t make this visible, the work has been visible to us already, but it gives us recognition. First of all, I think it’s charming that somebody who has been with us, thinks about us so warmly that they want us to have that Label, and wants us to be part of that process, and they move on in their life work and their organizations and provide these possibilities to us.
So, this, first of all, is beautiful, and of course, just being able to say we have done great work, we are doing great work, and it is bearing fruit.
Voices@Karls is an initiative that is powered by heart and by hard work as well. But, with a lot of joy, and a lot of perspectives also. To have a kinder future, maybe? And it is visible at Pride, so, it’s really a great atmosphere. I can feel the initiative is alive, and it’s a great feeling.
Ella: Yes, it is! Yes and of course when we started with Pride in 2019, the world changed as well, there are parts of the world where we are at, that have gotten really worse in terms of queer rights, but in a way, the discussion for gender and sexual identity has become a little bit more open, I think, and more understanding.
Why is it so important to keep talking about this topic and what is the history of queer people? What kind of experience do queer people have to live with every day? So, I think in some ways the conversation has come forwards in three years, but thinking about Karls, when we did our first Pride event, it was basically a non-existent representation of LGBTQ members. Or understanding how much it is part of us, and how many students need to hear that they belong here. And here we are now, from where we started from…in my experience, first, with how we started with Pride, one of my students felt marginalized, and made invisible. And I also observed that we don’t talk about this stuff, it seems as though it does not exist at all at the Karls, and since then, it has become such an obvious part of the Karls. And so, showing our support for LGBTQ people and normalizing discussions about the genders and sexual identities and with gender-neutral toilettes, and gender-neutral language in our official documents, these bases are born from these events.
Voices@Karls received the label and recognition from the Stonewall Legacy Label because the work performed here is meaningful and has a positive impact on the LGBTQ+ community. In the name of the Karls, we thank the initiative and Prof. Dr. Ella Roininen for this wonderful work!