If you’re part of the LGBT+ community, you might know by now that you simply do not come out the once – it is continuous, with every change of environment, situation, and the accompanying people. The first time I had to do this at university, it was while shopping for unicorn horns at Claires, which is oddly fitting if you've ever been anywhere near LGBT+ art or meme Instagram accounts.
So, what's it actually like to come out at university?
This first encounter had the same genre of reaction I’ve had since, which is either a ‘cool’, ‘okay’ or even a gleeful ‘me too!’, which happens much more than I'm used to. Ultimately, it is a beautiful apathy which greatly varies from that of my previous educational experience wherein trans students, without accepting parents, have had to wear a uniform that goes against their gender identity. Going to the LGBT+ club meant you had to actively out yourself, and representation was at an all-time low in my own experience. Here, there is obviously no uniform guideline to fight against, but in comparison Bath still excels.
Just like any other interest or group, there's a society for it
The LGBT+ society boasts an amazing confidentiality policy and is absolutely free to join ! Emails are sent from an unidentifiable email, and the hidden Facebook group ensures that none of your friends can see you’ve joined, and if they see a notification the name and icon are similarly veiled. Adding onto this, there is a boastful amount of support, from specific LGBT+ society help, anonymous confessions pages other LGBT+ peers can comment on, and then fully confidential advice from Student Services who are always available. The group itself is amazingly bubbly and integrative, even if you feel quite awkward or out of place at first. By the end of whatever you've gone to join in (patch making, karaoke, a trip out to Mandy's), you are absolutely sure to make friends. There's none of the dreaded 'who has it worse' that can feel minimising, and all concerns are treated equally and with both respect and well-founded advice.
A bit of consideration though
Although I can confidently tell you about my positive experiences, it must be considered that this is from a headspace and position where I am happy to be out. Even though there is this extensive support, you don’t need to feel any pressure to come out, even if it does seem like a perfectly convenient time. It doesn’t matter if this is due to personal comfort, any kind of safety concerns, or simply not feeling the need to – the decision is wholly yours. If you also don't want to come out at university for whatever reason, but you are still seeking support, the central library hosts weekly groups if you're aged from 13-21, hosted by Off The Record.
Overall, happy pride month! The LGBT+ society has teamed up with the Students' Union to form an absolute wealth of activities from fabric patch making to a rainbow-themed class, that are open to both LGBT+ students and their allies. Information is on their Instagram, and definitely, worth checking out - any questions just pop them below this post and I'll happily reply to them 🙂
PS - If you want a good time to first try out Mandy's as a fresher, I recommend Halloween; Seeing a skeleton and a Moulin Rouge cabaret dancer blasting Bohemian Rhapsody at the top of their lungs is a truly endearing sight, even if it doesn't sound like it now.