The focus of the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (May 17) this year is “mental health and wellbeing.”
This is particularly relevant to students, as college is a place of self-discovery, and somewhere many LGBTQ people choose to come out or experiment with their identity.
1. Research Different Colleges
If you’re thinking of applying to college but want to study somewhere that welcomes LGBTQ students, it pays to do a little research beforehand.
One way to do this is to ask current students about their experiences, but there are plenty of online resources if you’re not sure who to ask.
2. Look for Funding
College can be expensive, so any financial help is usually welcome. What you might not know is that there are scholarships available specifically for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students.
3. Meeting New People
Making new friends is part of the college experience for any student. But when you’re LGBQT, or simply want to explore that side of your personality, you might be particularly keen to meet like-minded people.
A good option is to join an LGBTQ advocacy group. Most colleges these days will have at least one LGBTQ group on campus, often affiliated with national organizations like the Gay-Straight Alliance. Likewise, look out for LGBTQ events at your college.
Alternatively, you could venture off campus to find any LGBTQ community centers in your local area. It also helps to research gay-friendly businesses, such as bars, cafes and shops.
4. Get Online
Of course, if you don’t have any luck meeting people in meatspace, you always have the World Wide Web as a backup source of awkward first dates (a characteristic feature of any college romance, straight or gay).
More seriously, the internet is also a great resource for advice on LGBTQ issues, as well as message boards and forums where you can ask for guidance on just about any topic imaginable.
5. Try Not to Worry…
It’s natural to feel a little freaked out when you first go away to college, especially if you’re not sure how other people in your dorm will react when they find out you’re LGBTQ.
The first thing to remember here is that you’re under no pressure to reveal anything about your sexuality to other people if you don’t want to. It is entirely your decision when and with whom to discuss your personal life, so move at a pace with which you’re comfortable.
The second thing is to realize that most people will support you when they do find out – or simply won’t care! Your friends should always accept you for who you are.