Starting university as an LGBTQ+ student
You might be just about settled into life at Heriot-Watt but if you're still finding your feet, that is understandable...
For many people, starting university can be terrifying. It means moving away from home, living with strangers for the first time and being independent – there’s so much going on in this transition.
For LGBTQ+ students, it can be particularly challenging and if this applies to you, you’re not alone. A lot of LGBTQ+ teenagers aren’t out in their hometowns, and if they are, there’s a chance they’ve struggled with it as homophobia, biphobia and transphobia are still things our community deals with daily.
If you’ve started university and worried that this may carry on, what is (hopefully) reassuring, is that there are tonnes of people in exactly the same situation as you!
The obvious group to join is the LGBTQ+ one, and if this doesn’t exist, why not find the courage to start it? Having a support network will be really reassuring, and if group chats and social media isn’t your thing, don’t worry! You can join your LGBTQ+ society at any time during the year.
My biggest fear before I started university was that I’d have to live with someone who would discriminate against LGBTQ+ people. As it turned out, I didn’t have to worry at all! They didn’t bat an eyelid and by the end of the week they’d even hung up my Pride flag in the kitchen!
For a lot of people, it will be their first time living with an LGBT person. It’s possible that they’ll have questions and if you feel confident answering them that’s great, but don’t feel pressured to do anything beyond your comfort level.
If coming out to your flatmates doesn’t go so well, remember that your university is there to help you. Your safety and wellbeing is a priority and changes can be made to your accommodation arrangements if you’re unhappy.
It’s easy to focus on your worries, but don’t forget how exciting it is that you're independent and making new friends from all over the country (and world). University can be scary, but it can also be extremely rewarding and freeing. Try not to freak out too much about it, because you’re capable and your university is lucky to have you.
University can be a whirlwind experience and you deserve to enjoy it as much as possible. Have fun, work hard and be yourself!
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