National Coming Out Week: Coming Out in College

Every year in early October, the LGBTQ+ community celebrates National Coming Out Week,  a time when we can all celebrate who we are and who we love. For some this is a joyous time to be out, but for others it can be more challenging. Coming out is a constant process, and not everyone is able to leave the closet at the same time. 

Some people come out in high school and spend their teenage years growing into their identity. Others of us can’t come out then for a variety of reasons, but usually it’s not safe for us or maybe we don’t quite know what we identify as. This means that there’s a multitude of queer kids who come to college and can finally be who they truly are. So, if you’re one of us who’s trying to work through this in college, this one’s for you.

First things first — you are not alone. You may not always know it, but other LGBTQ+ students are all around you! One of the fundamental parts of college is finding your people, so seek out a queer community in which you feel comfortable. It may be a little cliché, but at the end of the day, these people will be the safe haven that keeps you tethered. You’ll bond over everything from how fast the bears on Grindr message you to the first time you all gathered up the courage to go out to the local gay club. These will be the people who help you flirt with the girl from your chemistry class and bring you ice cream when you have your first queer heartbreak. Before you know it, you’ll have found friends who know your truest self and love you all the more for it.

Also keep in mind that it’s not just the queer community that’s trying to figure out their sexuality! Students are expected to explore their passions during this time, and for many that involves figuring out what they like sexually. This creates an environment that’s perfect for you to go on as many dates as you want or partake in the hookup culture to your heart’s content. While that may sound like a fabulous time for some of us, not everyone is going to want to engage in those activities, and that’s perfectly okay too! If you’d rather just find queer friends and talk about how you feel, that’s what works for you. Never let anyone pressure you into doing anything you’re uncomfortable with; your safety and security is the number one concern.

With that, now is a great time to think about what your labels and pronouns are, if you use any. Perhaps in the past you would use they/them pronouns, but now you identify with ze/zir. Or maybe you never knew all of the pronoun possibilities, so you can finally find the ones that fit your identity the best! You may also be using this time to learn about the whole spectrum of sexuality labels that exist. New terms seem to always be popping up, so you may initially come out as bisexual but then decide that pansexual fits you better. Changing your labels or not using any label at all is completely okay! Again, this is all about what you feel comfortable with and who you are to yourself. One of the best ways to feel comfortable coming out in college is picking a college that is welcoming to the LGBTQ+ community. While this isn’t always feasible for everyone, doing so is beneficial to your health and wellbeing. Personally, I chose the University of Michigan in part because it was the first college in the nation to open an office for queer students. With a long history of supporting this portion of the student body, I knew that I could feel welcomed here. I hope that no matter what school you attend, you’re able to find that same warmhearted niche within your own campus.

No matter what, always remember that whether you come out at 15 or 50 or not at all, you and your identity are valid! Happy National Coming Out Week, and best of luck on your journey through queer identity in college!  


Image credit: Lesbian News