September 22, 2012

IconGay freshers guide: 10 things you need to know about university

Going to university is scary/exciting for everyone, but if you think you might be something other than totally heterosexual, you’ve probably also got some extra worries.

Sure, everyone knows that uni is a great time to explore new experiences. But what if you’re so far in the closet that the mere thought of talking to an actual gay person makes you feel faint? What if you’d no sooner walk into a gay bar than an iron bar?

Gay chicken is not the answer. (Google it. Don’t worry, no nudey pictures). Just follow these 10 tips for a stress-free first year as a gay student:

1. Not studying in Brighton, Manchester, London or Glasgow? Don’t fret. Contrary to what TV says, gay people do live in other towns too. Living in a town with zero gay bars can sometimes be an advantage, as you might find that your uni’s students make more effort to organise their own LGBT events.

2. Not sure how to come out to your new friends? Let posters do the talking. Walking into a room plastered with pictures of Megan Fox may give them a clue.

3. Join a team, any team. Football, rugby and hockey are the stereotypes, but really any sport that involves a large team of women running around is a good bet (even netball).

4. If and when you go to LGBT events, beware Facebook tagging. Maybe all you’re out to all your friends and family, but if you’re not, don’t let pictures of drunken canoodling do the job for you.

5. Not interested in gay bars? If you’re in a city, even if it’s not a very gay one, have a look on Facebook to see what’s happening locally. LGBT book clubs, comedy nights, knitting groups – there’ll be something out there for you.

6. Even if you meet your soulmate in freshers’ week, don’t forget to also make other friends. It might be tempting to hide away and nest together, but it’s not healthy.

7. If you have a girlfriend, don’t do everything together, otherwise people will always get your names confused. Plus, and a little more importantly, you need separate friends and interests to avoid ‘the merge’.

8. Join your uni LGBT group. Join, even if you think you’re too cool not to, even if you already have some gay friends, even if you’re frightened of other gay people. Especially if you’re frightened of other gay people. Most people you will meet at uni will be straight, so the LGBT society is a quick way to make more gay friends.

9. It’s ok to go to an LGBT event with a friend for moral support, but you can’t hide in the corner and ignore everyone else. If you do, and if your friend is of the same gender as you, people will think you’re together. If your friend is of another gender to you, people will still assume you’re together, and worse, that you’re straight tourists.

10. Sometimes LGBT groups can be dominated by super-confident loudmouths. Don’t be intimidated by them. And definitely, definitely don’t snog them on a night out.

Are you a student? Have you got any extra tips, or info on what’s worth doing at your uni?

5 Responses to Gay freshers guide: 10 things you need to know about university

  1. Northumbria University’s Student Union has a great LGBT Society, very active as well as proactive. Really welcoming and do regular social nights out, as well as Sexual Health stuff, film nights, theatre trips and odd days out like picnics or paintballing. We’re really welcoming and do link with other LGBT Society’s in the North East and I feel they’re all similar in their friendliness. Whatever you do though, don’t hide yourself away, this is probably the first time in your life you’ve had a chance to do something for you and be yourself 100% – so do it, don’t hang about ’til 3rd year and regret missing out on a lot of opportunities!

  2. Emma Kearl says:

    I love this article! I am the president of Huddersfield uni LGBT and we organise events all time and encourage people to brings friends gay or not. We have recruited 5 US students to the Society this year who are straight but want to get involved with events and campaigns so do not worry!

  3. Kate says:

    Very good advice; I especially approve of #8! Bristol University’s LGBT+ Soc is very welcoming and supportive of freshers, with plenty of fun events from club nights to quieter coffee afternoons, and a parenting scheme to help new members feel at home. Uni can be scary but it’s also a time of excitement and opportunity – please make the most of it!

  4. Ffion says:

    This is so good! :)

  5. Sio says:

    - Don’t feel like you have to drink heavily to fit in / remember that not all LGBT activities have to involve bar hopping.

    - Check out queer-relevant courses in other departments if you want to get smart while making cool queer-friendly / queer friends. (Sociology, anthropology, English, film and history are all good bets). Plus, study dates are hot!

Milly Shaw

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