Wear it Purple Day: forging a sense of belonging

Meet Jack Crane, Sydney staff member who has just been crowned an Out for Australia 30 under 30 LGBTIQ Role Model. We spoke to Jack on Wear It Purple Day about why the University is a stronger institution when we embrace the diversity.

Why purple for Wear It Purple Day? 

The colour purple has a long history for the queer community. In the ’50s, ’lavender lads’ was a term used to refer to homosexual men during a time when President Eisenhower had signed an executive order banning LGBTIQ+ employees from working in the federal government and used government agents to hunt ’lavender lads’ down.

The original rainbow pride flag also incorporated a violet stripe to represent the enduring spirit of the queer community to remain resilient and proud in a hostile world.

One of the co-founders of Wear it Purple Day, Katherine Hudson, saw purple as a way of bringing people together from different backgrounds, as a symbol of unity.

Regardless, it’s a fabulous colour and looks great on everybody.

Why is Wear It Purple Day part of the Diversity and Inclusion calendar?

Wear it Purple recognises that young people are some of the most vulnerable members of the LGBTIQ+ community. Many of our students spend their formative years here at the University. It’s a time when they may be discovering their sexuality, questioning gender or understanding the concept of identity. 

I’m from a country town in Victoria called Bairnsdale. Growing up as a gay man in a rural area was challenging to say the least.

The  TransPathways Study  investigated the mental health of trans and gender-diverse young Australians and found that more than 70 percent of participants had been diagnosed with depression or anxiety and almost 80 percent had self-harmed.

Endless  studies into the mental health of all LGBTIQ+ identifying youth  show a clear disparity between us and the general population.

Wear it Purple Day allows time to pause and reflect on these experiences and how we can change the outcomes for young LGBTIQ+ folk. As a University, we want to say, "you belong here, and we want you to be your most authentic self because you are loved and valued."

What do you do day-to-day as a Diversity and Inclusion Consultant?

The overarching philosophy I try to implement is forging a sense of belonging. I focus on supporting diverse cohorts including women in senior roles, LGBTIQ+ staff and culturally and linguistically diverse communities.

Currently, I’m supporting the  Pride Network  to implement LGBTIQ+ Student Support Officers. This self-nominated volunteer role aims to help queer students access appropriate support services. 

I also help run the Vice-Chancellor’s Sponsorship Program for culturally diverse women, an initiative forged by the Vice-Chancellor to advance careers and tackle issues of intersection around race and gender.

I’ve also been working to support the MOSAIC network, helping to implement initiatives like a cultural register, social events and professional development opportunities for culturally and linguistically diverse staff.

This work draws on the University’s strategic values and aims to influence our workplace culture to become an inclusive environment where differences are celebrated and staff are valued for their unique identities.

What is your background and how did you come to join the University?

I’m from a country town in Victoria called Bairnsdale. Growing up as a gay man in a rural area was challenging to say the least.

There were no ’out and proud’ role models to look up to, smart phones and dating apps were years away and I was struggling with my sexuality to the point where I spent most nights praying to wake up straight.

Luckily that never happened. Eventually I pranced my way into a journalism undergraduate degree at RMIT and established a career in radio.

It was only after moving to Sydney and accepting a contract at UTS that I found the university world and moved into disability support.

Since then, I’ve been lucky enough to work in roles where I can use the privilege afforded to me to help others share their stories, access education and feel safe and welcomed.

What are some simple ways we can be more inclusive in our day-to-day lives?

  • Don’t make assumptions about someone based on face value. People are complex and their stories are unique. When we make assumptions, we narrow conversation which limits opportunities to grow empathy.
  • and work ’inclusion nudges’ into everything you do (for example, add "they" to event RSVP options instead of M/F).

  • Understand that Diversity and Inclusion is not an obligation, it’s a privilege. If you can leverage privilege, reach back and help someone else up.
  • Speak to what you know and bring diverse voices to the conversation. Diverse teams glean better outcomes so it’s in your benefit to have different voices around the table.

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