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SOC Student Changemakers: Roman Habibzai

SOC Student Roman Habibzai shares their passion for LGBTQ+ representation and advocacy

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When SOC journalism student Roman Habibzai began exploring student media organizations, they quickly noticed that there was not a dedicated LGBTQ+ publication on campus. From this realization, they saw the need to create a new space to shape the experience of underrepresented students. As far as their involvement with student media, they were able to join The Blackprint, a publication serving to raise minority issues and amplify marginalized voices. While working with the publication, Habibzai focused on stories that were important to them and their identity. 

Things changed in November 2018 when Habibzai attended the Politics and Press event hosted by SOC and Politico. “It was so inspiring,” they said. “This made me realize there is a space for POC students for careers and options within the journalism world, specifically, and in communication.” This inspiration prompted them to revisit a goal of theirs: to create an online publication focused on amplifying queer voices. Visible, the publication Habibzai founded, is primarily focused on visual, literary, and investigative content.

Since the founding of Visible, the journalism student has been able to communicate with their team about what works for telling the types of stories they want to focus on, and what they can build on from there. During the COVID-19 pandemic, being an online publication has proven to be helpful in continuing to provide a space for the queer community. While Habibzai made the choice to step down as Editor-in-Chief, they still hold goals for the publication, including strengthening its audience, and sparking new projects and events that could possibly change someone’s life. For them, being the founder and co-president of Visible, “means the opportunity to connect with other queer and trans students at AU, and to be in a space that I feel comfortable and create things freely,” they said.

While fighting for representation continues within the media industry it continues to be a defining factor that can motivate change, even for Habibzai. They have been able to recognize the value in seeing themself represented on screen. “It frames a certain narrative in your mind when you don’t feel represented or feel like there isn’t representation for you,” they said. There were no main LGBTQ+ characters in the TV shows that they watched growing up, and this prompted Habibzai to search for the representation they needed for themself. Upon reflecting on the representation they were able to find in media products and images, they are able to acknowledge that there was still a very small amount to hold on to. 

A more equitable future in Habibzai’s eyes focuses on addressing privilege. They advocate for awareness and sparking more conversations with the people in your community on how privilege can be used to make valuable contributions and changes for groups that are underrepresented. With their true passions being grounded in journalism, Habibzai hopes to use their studies to influence conversations about diversity and inclusion outside of AU. They also encourage their peers to connect with others and explore parts of their identities through getting involved in organizations and media publications on campus. 

SOC Student Changemaker: Roman Habibzai

Roman Habibzai founded Visible, an art focused student publication that highlights voices and stories from the LGBTQ+ community at AU and beyond. After seeing a void in LGBTQ representation at AU, Roman took it upon themselves to create space for exactly that, even while facing personal hardship.