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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UGA chapter.

Hi, I’m Haarika! I am a junior in college, and I study at the University of Georgia. As someone who didn’t get to present her sexuality as much in high school, college became somewhat overwhelming for me in my first year. Imagine being unable to do anything for your entire life, and suddenly—BAM! You receive tons of freedom after entering college.

Being queer on campus, strangely, isn’t as dangerous as I was expecting. It’s been easy for me to find and make new queer friends, despite the majority cisgender-heterosexual population on campus. If you’re struggling as a queer student in college, here are some tips and suggestions from my experiences at UGA!

Make use of social media apps

Although social media can be addictive and harmful, I found most of my friends on Instagram and Discord. Many queer organizations often use Discord to communicate with members, making it a great place to connect with other queer students on campus.

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Our campus has 5 designated queer clubs, each for specific categories of people on campus. There are groups like QSTONE, for BIPOC queers, and OSTEM for queer STEM students. These clubs are useful for people who don’t know where to start with making friends. Joining these organizations can provide you with both enjoyable and helpful events to combat social anxiety. You can connect with other queer students without solely relying on conversation.

Visit your local Pride Center!

If you haven’t heard of it yet, UGA has its own LGBTQIA+ resource center! Located on the second floor of Memorial Hall, the Pride Center is the hub of many LGBTQIA+ resources. As a fellow Pride Ambassador, I cannot stress enough how helpful going to our Pride Center is, especially if you need resources, need help to come out, are burnt out, or even if you are seeking friends or general advice. We also have a lounge area where you can sit down, do your work, and even grab a book from our library to read! The employees and the ambassadors of our center are always here to offer advice and help to the best of their abilities. Please know that the Pride Center is the best place for emergencies, advice, and even a place just to chill. It’s there for whatever purpose you want to have with it!

Dealing with homophobia on campus

While I’ve personally had an easier experience being open with my sexuality and orientation on campus (as both a POC and queer woman), that doesn’t exclude me from queerphobia. Especially on Christianity-majority campuses, you’re bound to run into vigilante, evangelist groups who may oftentimes act hostile in displaying their messages. Most of these groups are very aggressive in expressing their distaste for queerphobia, and sometimes they can even get physical. As per my queer center’s guidelines, we only have one solution that we recommend: blissful ignorance. Rather than getting triggered and trying to respond to their attacks, instead, please walk away to a safer area and move on. These groups are usually under the protection of the campus law, so you won’t gain much from responding to their aggression.

Out-of-Campus organizations

If you want to get more involved in the bigger picture, check out your local queer organizations! They offer more opportunities and resources beyond your campus. Here in Athens, we have the Athens Pride and Queer Collective, and they’re probably more proactive in the community than even our own campus organizations. They host annual pride parades, festivals, volunteering events, and even support groups for local and campus residents. If you feel like you aren’t getting enough from campus resources, I totally recommend looking into the Athens Pride and Queer Collective!

That’s all the tips I have for now, but know that you don’t have to be alone when it comes to being a queer student on campus. It can be a time of frustration and loneliness if you’re having a hard time figuring out how to start, but know that there are always resources and events on campus to help! Stay safe!

Haarika Peyyala is a writer at the Her Campus at the University of Georgia chapter. She writes articles, usually covering a range of topics, including entertainment, LGBTQIA+, lifestyle, and others.  Beyond Her Campus, Haarika also works as a Pride Ambassador for the UGA Pride Center, where she plans and coordinates queer events on the UGA campus. She also serves as the Student Liaison for the UGA Pride Center and is a member of the Student Advisory Board on the UGA campus. She is currently a junior at the University of Georgia and is majoring in computer science.  Some of Haarika's hobbies and interests include international music, reading, comics and graphic novels, painting, and writing both poetry and short stories. She also loves talking to new people and learning about new experiences and knowledge.