A Queer Gal’s Guide to Making Queer Friends Freshman Year

At my high school, the number out queer people was in the single digits. Everyone knew who the gay kids were and my ex-girlfriend and I had hooked up with literally all the same girls before dating each other. So, after this experience,  I was very excited to meet new people as an incoming CC freshman.

Quickly making loads of queer friends was something I thought would be easy, what with my schedule full of gender/film studies classes and the fact that Barnard was across the street from my dorm. But alas, not even showing off my undercut or hanging out in Diana wearing a flannel were as effective as I thought they’d be. Therefore, in the hopes of saving this year’s baby gays some time, here’s a list of some of the tactics I used (ridiculous or not) in my quest to meet other non-straight people and how well they worked.


Gay Humor in my OL group

Firstly, ever the subtle one, I decided that the fastest way to make friends in my OL group would be to make about 35 gay jokes in the first two hours of orientation and gauge people’s reactions. This was my typical approach in high school (it’s a classic) and after about twenty minutes I’d met my current roommate and best friend. That’s not to say that shouting “okay, who here’s not straight???” into a crowd of strangers is the fastest way to make long-lasting friendships, but it can definitely be a place to start.


Queering the LitHum Syllabus

Secondly, in a similarly blatant approach, I was the first person in my LitHum class to talk about how gay the Iliad is and proceeded to queer as many of the books as I could reasonably get away with (spoiler alert: it was most of them). This approach gave me another one of my good friends, and we’d have lunch every now and then to continue discussing how obvious it is that Virginia Woolf wrote Lily Briscoe as a repressed lesbian or drag Ovid for his depiction of Sappho in Heroides.


Rugby, Tinder, and Columbia Crushes

While I knew that being openly ridiculous about how gay you are can only get you so far in the friendship department, I didn’t know anything about LGBT life on campus. One of my best friends from home had joined the women’s rugby team (the gayest sport ever) in October and that had worked great for her. Since I’m about the least athletically inclined person I know, that wasn’t really an option for me. When I asked my other friends, they had as little an idea of where to go as I did. A few friends just turned to Tinder or began posting on Columbia Crushes asking where all the lesbians were at. Eventually, I ended up auditioning for the super fun show But I’m a Cheerleader: the Musical and made a lot of great queer friends that way. The cast/crew was about 99% not-straight (for obvious reasons) and I found a lot of information about the on-campus queer community from them.


On-campus Organizations

The most important one for me was Q-House, which is Columbia/Barnard’s queer special interest community. They throw a lot of parties and events throughout the year, and I loved getting to know people in this chill, unstructured setting. Columbia Queer Alliance, GendeRevolution, Q&A, and CUiQ are awesome clubs and organizations on-campus like have more specific focuses and hold events throughout the year to discuss issues that impact the community. All of these groups host a bunch of events at the beginning of the year, so they’re decently accessible for new students. I wish I’d known how many different resources there were earlier freshman year. Explore the many amazing queer space that New York City has to offer. Cubbyhole was a great starting place for me.  With that, I hope all the new baby gays have a great first year being out and social at Columbia Barnard.