Navigating life at university as a LGBTQ+ student

Written by Calyste Revel, MSc Investment and Wealth Management, Imperial LGBTQ+ Officer

[Sidenote: LGBTQ+ means Lesbian-Gay-Bisexual-Transgender-Queer/Questioning, and the + is for all individuals that do not identify with the previous categories]

Letting go and finding yourself

What I found very peculiar in my transition to university was the fact I suddenly could be totally myself. I come from a small village in France and my sexuality, although not something I was ashamed of, had never been something people were willing to discuss back home. So, arriving in London, where the opportunities to express my identity and be recognised for it suddenly felt unlimited, was truly overwhelming at first. I remember going out to one of those mega-clubs during Fresher’s Week (Heaven in Charing Cross, not the most original choice on a hindsight) and seeing more than three queer people in a same room for the first time ever. It Blew My Mind.

Strangely enough, adapting myself to that new reality was not so easy. I remember wondering: am I queer enough? Like if by extracting myself from a previous standard I was looking at locking myself up in a new one. I nonetheless realised soon enough that there was no pressure to do so, and that I could take these years as my first real opportunity of discovering my true self without fears of being judged.

Appreciating moments and people

I found my time at university to be one of the most significant times in my life in terms of meeting new kinds of people. I have been incredibly lucky to bond with individuals from all walks of life, some of whom I today call my friends. Virtually everyone I have met here has been supportive and accepting, and they really made me consider how Allies are essential to the LGBTQ+ Community. Whether it was a word, a sign or just the fact that they never treated me any differently from others, people here have made me feel belong and I’ll be forever grateful for that.

Giving meaning

It became clear throughout my time at Imperial that this incredibly diverse and accepting environment I benefited from was not something that was just there, but that it had been nurtured and cherished by generations of students before me. I wanted to continue this path of tolerance and inclusion by making sure future generations would be at least as accepted, if not more, within our community. That’s why I became the LGBTQ+ Officer of the Student Union, which to resume it shortly allows me to represent and stand up for the student queer community at Imperial, while also enabling me to throw nice events (the funniest of which might have been a Drag Aerobics session on campus, sorry if you’ve missed it!). As my time here draws to a close, it is probably this engagement that I am most proud of, and if I have been able to make even the smallest positive impact I’ll cherish this accomplishment forever.

If you’re interested in learning more about the community, visit: www.imperialcollegeunion.org

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