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Health and Wellbeing

Starting university as an LGBTQ+ student

By Adrian 25 Jul 2022

For many people, starting university can be terrifying.

It means moving away from home, living with strangers for the first time and being independent – there’s so much going on in this transition.

For LGBTQ+ students, it can be particularly challenging and if this applies to you, you’re not alone.

A lot of LGBTQ+ young people aren’t out in their hometowns, and if they are, there’s a chance they’ve struggled with it as homophobia, biphobia and transphobia are still things our community deals with daily.

If you’re starting university, you may worry that this will carry on, or if you’re already in an accepting environment, you’re perhaps scared to leave this behind. What is (hopefully) reassuring, is that there are tonnes of people in exactly the same situation as you! 

You've probably joined LOTS of Facebook groups already. Whilst some of these group chats become annoying (be prepared to mute the constant messages flooding your phone), it's always nice to be reminded that most people are in the same boat, starting university with the same worries and concerns as you.

I decided to tell the people on my course and in my group about my sexuality before I arrived. Knowing I was already out to people, and that they couldn’t care less about my sexuality, was a great feeling.

The obvious group to join is any LGBTQ+ ones in your area or relevant to your university, and if this doesn’t exist, why not be the one to get a chat or group going? Having a support network will be really reassuring, and if group chats and social media aren't your things, don’t worry! You can join your LGBTQ+ society at any time during the year once you've settled in. 

My biggest fear before I started university was that I’d have to live with someone who would discriminate against LGBTQ+ people. As it turned out, I didn’t have to worry at all. They didn’t bat an eyelid and by the end of the week they’d even hung up my Pride flag in the kitchen! But, this might not be the same with all living situations, and if you do find you are in an uncomfortable position then make sure you reach out to your accommodation providers. Almost all universities in the UK have zero tolerance for discrimination, so there should always be support available. 

If coming out to your flatmates doesn’t go so well, remember that your university is there to help you. Your safety and wellbeing are priorities and changes can be made to your accommodation arrangements if you’re unhappy. 

For a lot of people, it will be their first time living with an LGBTQ+ person. It’s possible that they’ll have questions and if you feel confident answering them that’s great, but don’t feel pressured to do anything outside of your comfort zone. 

 

It’s easy to focus on your worries, but don’t forget how exciting this time is, you’ll be moving and making new friends from all sorts of backgrounds. University can be scary, but it can also be extremely rewarding and freeing.

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University can be a whirlwind experience and you deserve to enjoy it as much as possible. Have fun, work hard and be yourself!

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Adrian is a medical doctor, the Student Health & Wellbeing Manager at the University of London and the Warden of Connaught Hall, where he has lived for almost 25 years.
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