Whatever your situation, starting a new student life can seem scary. NUS LGBT Officer Robbie Young shares his own experiences.
I can remember when I first went to both FE and HE, I remember the two very different experiences that I felt going into each institution.
When I went to Henley College in Coventry, I remember I wasn’t very sure of my identity, who I was or even what I stood for. I just remember not having to go to school anymore and wearing my own clothes and that this was the most liberating thing possible.
But in FE I grew, I learnt so much about myself and I made friends that I am still close to today. Being in FE meant that I could learn how to manage my time effectively.
For a while I did hide who I was and I didn’t come out for a while. But I found a group of people who were out and they supported me through what was quite a difficult time.
Then being out I went to Plymouth University, and this is where I found my LGBT society, and this opened up a whole new world to me. I remember being so intimidated about even signing up to be a member of the society.
I remember what I gained from joining at freshers' week helped me settle in at Plymouth, it helped me realise that I wasn’t alone and it gave me a safe space to meet other defining LGBT students who are still friends for life.
My advice to people would be to get involved with your LGBT society, make friends and be true to who you are. If you are not ready to come out, don’t panic.
Just make sure that you know where to go to for help, advice and maybe meet people for a cup of tea to discuss and learn about other experiences in coming out.
If your students' union or institution doesn’t have a LGBT society and you would like help in setting one up, go and visit your SU and get in touch with us. LGBT officers would be more than happy to help activists set up an LGBT society and help with getting you started.
Another tip I could offer would be to try something new - my biggest regret from university and college was not joining societies because I thought I’d either be no good or thought I wouldn’t quiet fit in.
Some societies can be expensive also, so don’t think you have to join them all. Have a think about what you already enjoy and what you would like to try and go from there.
But most importantly, join your LGBT society. Being involved really helps to strengthen our movement and it helps breaking down barriers to participation for LGBT students.