Queer Stagiaires as it is today originated from the efforts of EU trainees from the March 2016 session, who were the first group from the EU institutions to march in the Belgian Pride (in an unofficial capacity). The LGBT+ Subcommittee of the European Commission was established by Johan, Belinda Dear, Carol Silveira & Bugra Yilmaz, while that of the European Parliament was established by Pablo Ruisanchez, Hannah Carter, and Sofia Lopez. The two groups collaborated throughout the March 2016 traineeship for events and awareness raising campaigns, as well as for the Belgian Pride. This was where the slogan #proudEUtrainees was born, as they marched under the hand painted banner depicted below.
Johan, Belinda, Bugra and Carol attended an EGALITE (LGBTI staff of the EU institutions) dinner shortly after the Pride, in which Johan gave a speech about the trainees’ participation which in turn inspired EGALITE to collaborate with the trainees the following year. Unfortunately, as the LGBT+ subcommittees are not yet permanent and there was no continuity in the winter traineeship session.
However, two main factors coincided to ensure continuity for the 2017 March session. Firstly, Hannah Carter and Belinda Dear became external employees of the European Commission, and were able to give talks to the incoming trainees about the previous work of the March 2016 LGBT+ Subcommittees, and secondly the LGBT+ trainees had met former ILGA-Europe trainee and now current EU Council trainee Alejandro Hernandez at the Pride, who was now setting up an LGBT+ subcommittee at the EU Council. The three of them were already good friends, and were able to make sure the subcommittees we re-established, by Karin-Liis Lahtmäe and Marek Szponik for the European Commission, and Niamh Cullen for the European Parliament.
Now, where did the name Queer Stagiaires come from? Alejandro Hernandez, when he realised the need for collaboration between the trainees of all the EU institutions, discovered a dormant umbrella LGBT+ group called “Queer Stagiaires”. Alejandro revived the group, and with the help of Marek, Karin and Niamh, managed to centralise our actions around participation in the Belgian Pride, so that it was a joint effort between EGALITE and Queer Stagiaires. It also made all the history combine into one clear, unified group, so that it is easier for incoming trainees to join and also for interested organisations to locate us.
Our Communications Officer, Hannah, then set about establishing our online presence, creating the Queer Stagiaires Twitter account and Facebook page, as well as transforming the March 2016 European Parliament LGBT+ subcommittee website into that of Queer Stagiaires. Since then, events, talks, and advocacy work have been done under the label of Queer Stagiaires, which unites trainees from all the institutions, as well as former trainees and current employees such as Belinda and Hannah, who are able to bridge the gap between Queer Stagiaires and EGALITE, as well as ensure continuity into the future. Niamh Cullen now joins the ranks of external employees after her traineeship, and will help continue to foster the wonderful collaboration between trainees and staff.