If going to university is not daunting enough, the pressure on LGBTQ+ students only increases!
Some go through the turmoil of 'coming out' prior to university and that weight is lifted off their shoulders. For others, coming out before moving out is something they can only dream of.
Moving away from home and starting a degree, whilst finding yourself a whole new group of friends, is stressful enough. The thought of having to come out (again, for some) can provide unnecessary anxiety and angst and even ruin the whole experience.
For me, coming out to my friends at the tender age of 15 was a relatively easy experience apart from the odd immature remark here and there. When I managed to tell my parents at 16, all the scenarios I'd created in my head seemed foolish.
They accepted me and my queerness with open arms. I was out and proud. However, that didn't make me feel any more at ease when heading to university.What if I get put in a house with a large group of boys? Will they accept me? What if I get lodged with a bunch of homophobes? - these were all questions I asked myself months before moving to Bath.
Suddenly there it was, Saturday 20th September 2014, the day I moved into halls. I waved my parents off in the car park and I was on my own.
I thought about who I was going to be at university and chose to rely on the 'class clown' persona that had got me through school. I was loud, I was the centre of attention but I was not entirely myself.
I was so concerned about being the guy that everyone wanted to be friends with, that I forgot to actually be myself. A few weeks into term, I realised that the person I was trying to be, was not the person that I really wanted to be.
My advice to anyone going to university is to be yourself. In the words of Lady Gaga, "no matter gay, straight, or bi, lesbian, transgendered life", everyone is accepted, included and empowered!
Don't try to be someone else because you are living with these people 24/7. Keeping a facade up will only drain you and cracks will begin to show.
University is among the most accepting spaces in your life and Bath Spa University has been accepting without limitation and liberal beyond exclusion.
Sexual orientation and gender is not an issue. People will like you for the person you are, not the person you are sexually attracted to or the gender you identify as.
As Mama Ru says, "If you can't love yourself, how in the hell are you going to love somebody else?"
If you're looking to meet like-minded people, discuss LGBT issues and get involved with the wider community then look out for LGBT societies on your university's Students' Union website.