Being LGBTQ+ in College

When I first committed to St. Mike’s a year and a half ago, about a million different questions and worries were swimming through my head. What was the food going to be like? Are the professors nice? Will I get along with my roommate? And, most of all, will my school be accepting of me and other LGBTQ+ students? Luckily, I quickly realized upon starting my first-year that I had chosen an incredibly progressive, warm-hearted, and accepting community to live in for the next four years (my roommates, professors, and the food all worked out well too!). However, the transition into adulthood is still challenging for so many queer teenagers when they have no idea how open-minded and accepting their new friends and peers will be. So, I’m going to share a few words of wisdom for any other LGBTQ+ students who are just as anxious about the future as I once was.


You do not owe anyone an explanation of your identity


This was something I struggled with a lot when I first came out to my family and peers in high school. While they’ve always been loving and supportive, they were a bit ignorant on queer issues when I first told them I was gay, so I was getting a lot of frustrating questions ranging from “How do you know for sure you don’t like men?” to “Why are you so nervous about coming out to other people?” I was never entirely sure how to answer these; and while I was initially insecure in my identity and thus felt the need to explain myself to people, I eventually gave up as I lost the energy and patience for these invasive questions. At the end of the day, all that matters is that you are comfortable in your own skin. Who cares if other people don’t understand or maybe even doubt your identity? The only person who will ever know yourself is you.


You are never obligated to come out


This sort of goes along with the previous idea that you never owe anyone an explanation of yourself. Seriously, though, coming out is difficult! It’s emotionally draining, nerve-wracking, and (for some people) may garner unwanted reactions or attention. So, the best advice I can give with coming out is to go with your gut. If you feel secure and comfortable enough to let the world know who you are, then that’s awesome! Scream it out and embrace your identity. However, if you still feel nervous or overwhelmed at the thought of disclosing your sexuality to your family and peers, then that’s absolutely okay as well! Do not ever force yourself out if you are still anxious deep down. Embracing and becoming secure with yourself takes time; and when this happens, you will know that you’re ready to come out. Be kind to yourself and allow the time for personal growth before you rush into anything.


Don’t rush yourself into relationships and/or sex


I’ve found that, a lot of the times, the queer community and its members are minimized to nothing more than their sex lives. This isn’t just something that people outside of the community do, though; a lot of the times, it’s difficult to find any queer events that aren’t centered around sex in some way. Consequently, it’s easy to feel alienated if you’re particularly interested in or being intimate with somebody else. At the end of the day, though, you are so much more than the people you are and aren’t having sex with. So, don’t feel pressured to get into relationships that you’re not genuinely interested in or ready for. Do what feels right for you, and just know that you are a whole human being who doesn’t need to be completed by anybody else. 


There will always be people to accept and support you


No matter who you, the transition into college and a career is one of the most difficult parts of growing up that anybody will have to go through. It’s challenging to throw ourselves into brand new environments, especially when most of us dive into it without any real connections or a strong sense of what our purpose is in life. When you’re queer, too, it can be all the more stressful to find a community that will accept you for who you are. No matter how alone you may feel, though, just know that you will always be able to find some incredibly kind, smart, and like-minded people to support you through these trying times. Just be true to who you are, give yourself some time, and you will eventually make your way to them.