How To Find Your Queer Community | A Guide For Everyone Leaving Home
It’s the time of year when many young people are just finding out what college or university they’ll be attending, and starting to plan what may be their first big move away from home. If that’s you, first of all—Congratulations! And second of all, you might be thinking, ‘How am I going to find all the other queer people?’ If that’s you, don’t worry! In this post, we’ll look at how to find your queer community in a new place and get involved, so when term starts you can start having fun!
“But I’ve never had IRL queer friends before!”
Not everyone’s lucky enough to make friends with other queer people while still at school. Even if you have online friends, it can be pretty different to being in person with someone. That can make it extra intimidating to try and seek out queer community somewhere new, but you don’t need to worry. It’s very common for people to either not meet other queer people while they’re younger, or to not even realise themselves that they’re queer until they’re older. The queer community involves people at all stages of their journeys, and nobody should judge you for your experience or lack thereof.
If you’re coming into a new place, you may find the local community different to what you know. People may use terms differently, or have different ideas about things to you. It’s important to approach joining a community as being there to learn, exchange ideas, and support each other, rather than feel you need to jump in and ‘correct’ people. Of course, it’s important to call out intolerance and bigotry, but remember if things seem different to what you expect, there may be a reason for it.
Joining Your University LGBTQA+ Society
Many universities nowadays will have some form of LGBTQA+ society. The names will probably vary by university, but searching online will usually help you find it. Hopefully, you’ll be able to find information about the society, what they have on offer, and a way to get involved.
If the LGBTQA+ society is well-run, it can be an awesome way to meet new people, make friends, attend cool events, and get support.
If you’re nervous about attending, you could reach out to the LGBTQA+ society to ask if they have any sort of ‘request an introduction’ form. You might be able to talk with or meet a society member before getting involved fully, or have them come to an event with you.
Be aware that how good LGBTQA+ societies are can vary a lot. Pay attention to how inclusive the group is, how complaints against fellow members are handled, if they respect members’ privacy and are careful not to out anyone, and if they are friendly and welcoming or cliquey.
If you’re struggling to find people IRL, or you want to get started meeting people before you even get there, finding online LGBTQA+ groups for your local area can be a great way to start. The university LGBTQA+ society may have a facebook group or discord server, as might the local Pride organisers or just general LGBTQA+ groups for the area.
Joining Other Societies
Joining clubs and societies to pick up a new hobby or find other people who enjoy the stuff you do is a good idea in general. But it’s extra great if you can find other queer people with the same interests as you. There are some sports or clubs that stereotypically attract more queer members (such as theatre, gaming, or women’s rugby) but in reality it’s best to just go for what you’re already interested in and make friends there!
Find The Local Gay Scene
If you want to get involved in the local queer community outside of your university, you can also find out what the local hotspots are and hang out there. Places that do drag shows are usually a good shout and a lot of fun! Anywhere running interactive events like karaoke or pub quizzes can also be a fun way to meet people.
It’s not just bars and clubs either. You can find queer friendly cafes, bookstores, art galleries, barbershops and more in some places.
Decorate Your Dorm Room
If it’s safe, and you’re out and don’t mind other people knowing, decorating your room with pride flags, pride merch, posters and similar can be a cool way to get people talking and help other queer people know they’re not alone. Leaving a small pride flag in your window for example can let everyone walking by know you’re there. Make every day a minature Pride parade!
Wear Pride Merch Yourself
Similarly, provided you feel safe doing so, wearing things like pride flag pins, pronoun badges, or clothing with pride flags can help other queer people find you and get talking! More subtle things, like an ace ring, or pride coloured laces, can also work well as usually the only people who will notice is other queer people also looking out for people to get to know.
There are loads of ways to find your local LGBTQA+ community and get involved, and hopefully you can find one that works for you! Queer people very often end up finding each other even without looking, and leaving home for the first time can be an amazing experience that lets you make friends as the real you. Good luck to everyone heading off to university or leaving home soon—you’re going to do great.
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Also, check out our new podcast Never Would’ve Guest, now available wherever you get your podcasts! In episode one, we discuss what happens when butchness and disability intersect. You can listen to Episode 1 and read the transcript here.