September 22, 2012
Gay 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?
Sarah Schulman at Lesbian Lives 2013
Legendary queer activist Sarah Schulman has spoken out against the LGBT Center of New York City and its decision to ban her from a controversial book reading.
February 17, 2013