Starting university as an LGBTQ+ student
For many people, starting university can be terrifying.
It means moving away from home, living with strangers for the first time and being independent – there’s so much going on in this transition.
For LGBTQ+ students, it can be particularly challenging and if this applies to you, you’re not alone.
A lot of LGBTQ+ teenagers aren’t out in their hometowns, and if they are, there’s a chance they’ve struggled with it as homophobia, biphobia and transphobia are still things our community deals with daily. Similarly, you might have planned on coming out whilst at university but be nervous to go back home and go back in the closet.
If you’re starting university, you may worry that the homophobia that you've experienced will carry on and if you’re in an accepting environment, you’re perhaps scared to leave this behind. What is (hopefully) reassuring, is that there are tonnes of people in exactly the same situation as you!
You've probably joined LOTS of Facebook groups, right? Whilst some of these group chats become annoying (be prepared to mute the constant messages flooding your phone), you’ll see that a wide range of people are starting university with you. I felt that I had to tell the people on my course about my sexuality in our group and knowing I was out to people on my course before I’d even met them, and that they couldn’t care less about my sexuality, was great.
The obvious group to join is the LGBTQ+ one, and if this doesn’t exist, why not find the courage to start it? Having a support network will be really reassuring, and if group chats and social media isn’t your thing, don’t worry! You can join your LGBTQ+ society at any time during the year.
My biggest fear before I started university was that I’d have to live with someone who would discriminate against LGBTQ+ people. As it turned out, I didn’t have to worry at all! They didn’t bat an eyelid and by the end of the week they’d even hung up my Pride flag in the kitchen!
For a lot of people, it will be their first time living with an LGBT person. It’s possible that they’ll have questions and if you feel confident answering them that’s great, but don’t feel pressured to do anything beyond your comfort level.
If coming out to your flatmates doesn’t go so well, remember that your university is there to help you. Your safety and wellbeing is a priority and changes can be made to your accommodation arrangements if you’re unhappy.
It’s easy to focus on your worries, but don’t forget how exciting it is that you’ll be moving and making new friends from all over the country (and world). University can be scary, but it can also be extremely rewarding and freeing. Try not to freak out too much about it, because you’re capable and your university is lucky to have you. Here at SHU, we're just waiting for you to join us at the LGBT+ Liberation Group where together we work hard to connect our LGBT+ community of students together and raise the profile of the group locally and nationally.
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