Starting college is stressful for any student, but gay students can feel an added level of isolation as they start to seek a new network of friends. Fortunately, many colleges, even many smaller community colleges, now offer resources that can help gay students directly meet other gay students on campus. Even on those campuses that don't have such resources, gay students can tap into social media or local community resources to help them gain a circle of gay friends.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- College handbook
- Course directory
Check to see what resources your college offers for gay students. Many schools have social or support organisations for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered students. These organisations usually offer a wide variety of activities where you can meet other gay students, such as dances, film showings and special guest speakers. If you can't find any information about an LGBT organisation in your college's handbook or website, check the Human Rights Campaign's LGBT Campus Group Directory, which has a comprehensive listing of campus groups across the United States.
If your campus does not offer an LGBT social group, start one yourself. Check with your campus student centre about the process of setting up a group at your school. The Human Rights Campaign suggests generating interest by reaching out to other student organisations, papering your dorms and campus notice boards with flyers and submitting an opinion piece to your campus newspaper.
Start an unofficial meeting post for gay students via social media if organising an official group seems too daunting, or if you are on a campus with a hostile attitude toward gay rights. Starting a Facebook group, for example, could get you a network of gay friends for on- or off-campus outings.
Search your campus course directory for classes in LGBT studies. If the classes don't fit into your schedule, meet with the professor and ask if you can audit a few of the lectures so you can still meet the fellow classmates in the course.
Look for LGBT resources off-campus. Most major urban areas have some sort of gay and lesbian centre that offers numerous social activities. You might also find gay-friendly bookstores or coffee shops where you can meet other people. Most bars and nightclubs won't allow patrons under 21 inside, but some also cater to or have special nights for the 18-and-over set, where you're likely to find other gay guys close to your age.
Get active on your campus. It stands to reason that the more people you meet at college, the more gay students you'll meet. Find activities that interest you--theatre, political activism, the campus newspaper, a sport or student government--and get involved.
Download a gay-specific application to your mobile Internet device. The Grindr application, for example, is specific to gay men and uses GPS technology to alert you to other members who are nearby. This is an easy way to find and start online chats with other gay students who might be nearby in your dorm or the campus library. Be safe when meeting anyone, however, and do so in a public place.
Tips and warnings
- As you make new friends on campus, be open about your sexuality to the degree that you feel comfortable. It's possible they already have other gay friends to whom they can introduce you.
- Many culturally conservative or religious colleges still have morality codes that can punish or even eject you from campus for being gay.
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