Your life is about to change. Whether you are a party animal or someone who loves to study… or even that rare breed that somehow manages to get through university doing both —everything is going to be different over the next three years.
Take all of that information and add into the mix being a member of the LGBT+ community? I can’t assume that everyone who is starting university is also just figuring themselves out, but usually that is the case (it wasn’t for me, even though I only started university at twenty-two). When you move to any university, it is your chance to start over. If you’re a closeted teen/adult going to university, there is never a rush to do anything; just know that this is a fresh start for you, too. These are my tips for any member of the LGBT+ community who is starting university:
Join a society
A good university will have many societies that you can join, and this will always include an LGBT+ society. They organise nights out, filled with people from all stages of university life, and you’ll find that the people there will become the best group of friends. It’s not all about going out drinking though (well… sometimes, at least) — they will also organise movie nights, game nights or just going for food. Whether you are out or not before coming to university, it is still a good idea to join the LGBT+ society.
Do not feel forced. Although university is a common place to come out, people tend to be more accepting and with societies and LGBT+ officers, there is a lot of help out there for students, you are under no obligation to come out. Do whatever feels natural to you.
Research and online help
The internet is a great place, filled to the brim with information and that definitely extends to helpful hints about starting university as a member of the LGBT+ community. The Student Room is a great website with an abundance of forums dedicated to the LGBT+ community. I have no doubt that you will already be familiar with much of this information, but the forums allow you to build up a conversation and get an insight into so many different situations.
It is very likely that universities will have LGBT+ officers on campus to help with any issues you may have, such as any type of abuse. It is something to make yourself aware of. Whilst the world is more tolerant, there are still instances of abuse that cannot be ignored. Brush up on who the people are to talk to if you have any problems. If you do not have a dedicated LGBT+ officer or representative on your campus, there are student support officers and HR representatives who can be of help to you.
If you’re going to a university in a city, you will find the night-life will be a whole different experience. For example, Cardiff’s LGBT+ scene is thriving and growing year to year, there are bars catering especially for the LGBT+ communities, as well as regular drag queen shows that are some of my personal favourites nights out.
Remember that you are in university to learn, have fun and embrace the life-changing situations you’ll find yourself in. Regardless of age or circumstances, university will become an important milestone in your life. It altered my life more than I actually thought it would, and those three years were wonderful and genuinely the some of the best (and occasionally, stressful) times of my life. I wouldn’t trade in my time there for anything.
Hollie is an English and Creative Writing graduate from Cardiff Metropolitan University, where she is about to embark on an MA in Journalism. She is also a lover of cake, coffee and TV.
Note: 'Student Blog' pieces highlight the student perspective on issues relating to ProtectED. Consequently, this article reflects the views of the author and not ProtectED.