Tuesday 2 October 2018

My experiences as an LGBT+ student

In this blog, Emily talks about navigating university as a LGBT+ student and the importance of finding a support network.

“I’ve been embraced by a new community. That’s what happens when you’re finally honest about who you are; you find others like you.” – Chaz Bono.

When I first arrived at university five years ago, I’d never really considered what it meant to be LGBT+. Personally, I’ve never been one who prioritised sex or relationships. That hasn’t really changed during my time at university. However, university has been a chance for me to explore my sexuality and begin to discover who I am.

I’ve had strong feelings for males and for females. I would comfortably express myself as bisexual. However, simultaneously, I have never had any desire for anything sexual with either men or women. Therefore, I would also label myself as asexual.

Labelling myself as either bisexual or asexual has been something that I’ve only felt comfortable in doing throughout my most recent, final year at university. Before then, I’ve kept it a secret from everyone. Several things have made me more comfortable in being open about my bisexuality/asexuality confusion, including surrounding myself with people who are part of the LGBT+ community. Most of my closest friends are LGBT+, lots of the people I look up to as role models are LGBT+ and I love and cherish them all – they’re all also the kindest, most inspirational people I know. I think being around LGBT+ people has made me to feel more comfortable about my own sexuality and my own place in the LGBT+ community, and is also useful for other students who are learning about their sexual identity.

One of the regrets I take away from my time at university is not joining the LGBT+ society or attending of their events – I recommend this for any LGBT+ or questioning student. For the first four years of my degree, I didn’t feel comfortable being open about it. Then, in my final year, while I wanted to be involved, I was too busy. However, something I valued a lot was having the opportunity to explore my sexuality through the students’ newspaper. I wrote articles about being confused between bisexual and asexual, and I also wrote creative writing pieces with a focus on LGBT+ relationships.

Being an LGBT+ student at university isn’t always simple and easy, but one thing that I think really does make a lot of difference, genuinely, is having a brilliant support network around you.

“What is straight? A line can be straight, or a street, but the human heart, oh, no, it’s curved like a road through mountains.” – Tennessee Williams. 

My name is Emily (Em). I have recently graduated from Swansea University with my BA in Modern Languages, Translation & Interpreting;  I was also involved with Swansea Student Media and the university's student newspaper - Waterfront. I blog for Student Minds because I have experienced mental health issues and support friends who also have mental health difficulties. i am passionate writer and writing has been important in my mental health experience, both in helping me to explore and cope with my mental health as well as sharing my story in order to help others. 

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