Before we start, it’s good to keep in mind that you can’t view all LGBT+ people as the same. Each person has a different experience and may be at a different stage in discovering and feeling comfortable with their sexuality or gender. It’s important to avoid applying unnecessary and often untrue clichés and stereotypes about LGBT+ people. Assumptions about the way people should act, dress, and speak can really affect them.
So, with that in mind; here are my top 8 essential tips for any LGBT+ Fresher on navigating uni:
1. Get involved
One of the most crucial things you can do is explore your wider university and join societies and groups. Each university has a dedicated LGBT+ society, and you can be involved as much or as little as you like, but just by being part of a wider group of LGBT+ students will hopefully make you feel at ease as you try to figure out uni. This will give you a group of friends that can relate to what you’re going through, but at the same time, if that’s not your scene then that’s okay!
2. Talk to people
I cannot stress enough how important this is. If you feel comfortable, then talk to friends and flatmates alike. Who you feel comfortable talking to is entirely a personal decision, but being able to express what you’re thinking and feeling is so helpful. Also, just hearing a reassuring voice, which your friends will provide, is unbelievably comforting.
3. Help others
In the same way as talking to others may help you, return the favor! Be willing and prepared to listen to others around you as they may be less comfortable with their sexuality or gender identity as you are. A recent NUS report found that 42% of LGBTQ+ university students experienced anxiety or depression, so always offer to have a chat.
4. Don’t tolerate abuse
Not a fun piece of advice, but a necessary one. Although it is an incredibly unlikely and small chance of this happening, if you do experience homophobic, transphobic or any other type of abuse, then please report it. 20% of LGBT+ people, including myself and my boyfriend, have experienced hate crimes, and if it does occur, report it immediately. You can always be sure that you will have friendly, kind and reassuring friends to look after you if this happens.
5. Spread the message
On a cheerier note, don’t be afraid to talk to straight, cis students within university about being LGBT+ and help them to understand the differences we may experience to them. The only way to change environments and remove stigma is to increase awareness and change opinions.
6. Take advantage of who and what is around you
Your university will undoubtedly have phenomenal resources available, in terms of welfare, academics, and societies. Use these resources in whatever way you like, and don’t be afraid to do so.
7. Work at your own pace
This is incredibly important to remember. Each LGBT+ student comes to uni at a different stage; Whether you are fully out, still not telling people, or not even sure you are LGBT+ at all by the time you arrive at uni, there is no pressure to do anything or act in any certain way, so work at a pace you feel comfortable with.
8. Be yourself and be proud of it
Lastly, never be afraid to be who you are and do what you enjoy. Whether that’s clubbing to Britney and Gaga (a stereotype, I know, but one I love), chilling with friends or getting involved with sports or arts, then do it with pride in who you are.
Enjoyed this blog? Why not read: 8 Proven Ways to Look After Your Mental Health at University or Making the Most out of First Year: 10 Essential Tips