University is an exciting adventure for a lot of people. A chance to make new friends and study the subject you love. However, for some people, it’s also a chance to come out. This was my experience in my first year. Once you enter such a liberal and youthful community, it is the easiest and best time to come out, if you haven’t already done so. There is no pressure from parents or fear of bullying and prejudice at school because most universities house freethinking and open-minded individuals.
Just about every university nowadays has an LGBTUA+ society such as Warwick Pride which will give you an opportunity to meet queer people in a non-judgemental place who have gone through or are going through the same issues as you. Events such as community specific socials (trans*, bi), campaigns meetings, coming out workshops and nights out can give you a space where you can be yourself. For example, by my second term at university, I had come out, joined the Pride society, met all my queer friends and gone to a gay bar for the first time. By the end of the year, I had even marched in my first pride parade, which I can tell you was one of the most exhilarating moments in my life. Now in my third year, I have marched in pride parades from London to Lisbon and I can tell you that wherever I am and whoever I am with, I always feel at home.
There is no end to the opportunities that university can open to you but sometimes it is the small, personal and barely perceptible factors that can help you realise who you are as a person. Such as: bonding with a new friend over coffee, going to your first pride social or coming out to a stranger. Moreover, there is no pressure to come out or define your sexuality; pride societies are places for anyone and everyone. Some societies will even have parenting schemes which will enable you to have a mentor who will help guide you through any issues you have. When you’re more experienced, you could even decide to become a ‘parent’ yourself to help out a fresher.
If you want to learn more about being part of the LGBTUA+ community on a more national level, have a look at Stonewall who are an organisation that campaign for equality, challenge gender stereotypes and seek to empower individuals.
I want to leave you with some of the best advice that I was ever given. If you know that you are queer or think that you might be, and you’re nervous about coming to university, remember that being queer is normal, natural and nothing to be ashamed about.
- By Dominic Lam