When you’re in college, four years can seem like 8. This is because each year is two semesters, where you are in totally different classes with different people. I personally feel that entering another semester is another experience that can be different for individuals part of the LGBTQ Community. With the big day coming up soon, here’s some advice on how to deal.
1. Do express yourself
I am very prideful in my appearance. I carry a backpack with LGBTQ-themed pins and am not afraid to wear it to express myself in that way. The same thing goes for clothing. I express myself in these ways because I feel confident in my identity and in my environment to do so. Don’t feel that because you’re around a new group of people that you should hold back expressing yourself and your identity if you feel comfortable doing so.
2. Don’t be shy because of your identity
Sometimes people can get shy because they feel they are seen as “the queer one” or different and that makes them feel uncomfortable or shy in new environments. However, in the new year, I challenge you to not let your identity hold you back from enjoying yourself. If you’re already a shy person, than that’s totally cool, but don’t let your identity cause you to become shy.
3. Do talk about your involvement
If you’re involved in your school’s GSA or LGBTQ Center, talk it up! These are spaces that new people, no matter how they identify, should be welcome and you can spread the word. For example, if something you’re discussing in class relates to something you learned or know the organization teaches, be open to bringing it up. It’s a great way to make connections and get more people involved.
4. Don’t feel that you need to come out right away
If you’re open about your identity, like maybe a pin on your bag says it all, you may not have to worry about this one. However, if you’re still coming out and are not open about it, don’t feel that it’s important to come out to new people. Just like in any situations, do so when the time is right, if you feel there is a good time. Otherwise, new friends, especially in the beginning of the year, have no business knowing your identity.
5. Do practice allyship
If you identify as an ally for the LGBTQ Community, try practicing allyship in the classroom and on your school’s campus as well. The responsibilities of being an ally follow you wherever you go, so be sure to speak up and do your part.
6. Don’t let people treat you poorly
If you’re open about your identity like I am, you do have a small risk of being treated differently, in being seen as “different.” If you’re comfortable being out and proud around classmates, don’t let it backfire. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with this. If anything, you are setting a great example for others and being an ally for them. If someone gives you a hard time about, be sure to come up with a good comeback and walk away. You definitely don’t need to be surrounding yourself with people who are going to treat you poorly.
Going back to school after winter break, no matter how old you are, is a fresh start. If you’re in college, it’s like a whole new school year has started because you’re probably in totally new classes. This can be scary regarding your identity and how open you want to be about it. I hope this helps you in going back to school.