Coming out at universityBy Emma
It might be tough, but there is so much to gain by coming out at any stage of your life. Many students choose to come out at university and many do so as Freshers.
The chance to embrace your individuality is an exciting part of university life for every new student. Of course opening up about your sexuality is a little more daunting than getting a Mohawk. You may feel pretty scared about coming out and concerned about how your friends and family will react, as well as worried it could affect how people will treat you at university.
Whatever your fears, trust us, plenty of people have been there before and many of your fellow freshers will be going through exactly the emotions. University has always been a relatively open-minded environment and is a great place to get support from like-minded people. Most have LGBT societies which welcome lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, asexual and questioning individuals, and pretty much all bigger cities will have a gay scene too.
There is a range of personal circumstances and a variety of reasons why you may want to come out at university. For some LGBT students, university offers an opportunity to finally come out of the closet after years of keeping their sexuality a secret, whereas for other it may be the first time they realise they have such feelings. In contrast there are many students who are out and proud at home yet feel concerned about how to broach the subject with strangers.
Whether you feel petrified or just a little unsure about coming out, there are practical ways you can help yourself to improve your experience.
Starting university is intense for everyone. You are probably living, eating, studying and partying with the same group of people. It is important to realise that your feelings of stress may be heightened in such an environment.
Talk to someone you are really comfortable with before you tell your wider group of friends or family. This ensures you don’t feel isolated and also helps you plan more clearly what you what you want to say.
A calm, quiet and comfortable environment is the best place to come out to your family and friends. Being interrupted half way through isn’t a great start, for example telling your mates in a noisy pub may be difficult.
Think through what you’re going to say beforehand. This way you will be clear, calm and in-turn less stressed, which will improve the whole experience greatly.
There is a vast array of LGBT events and culture. Go to a Pride March, watch an LGBT film or TV show and read some LGBT blogs.
Everything does not hinge on this one moment of ‘coming out’. In fact it is only a few minutes of your life and relationships with others. It may have taken you years to accept your sexuality so don’t put too much pressure on having a completely positive response from your loved ones immediately.
Expect a party
Coming out can be the most liberating moment of many people’s lives. You may feel euphoric and want to celebrate, whereas your family and friends may just need to take in the news. Give them a little time and be patient.
Take a group
Tell your friends and family one-on-one and face-to-face. They will appreciate this. Whereas turning up with your new partner, gay best friend or even cross dressing is just going to provoke a reaction. Such a reaction will get in the way of understanding.
Don’t take out your frustrations or get angry at the people you’re telling. If they are asking questions it is just because they care. You don’t want to associate such negative circumstances with your sexuality.