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Coming Out at Uni

By: Beth Morrisey MLIS - Updated: 25 Jul 2010 | comments*Discuss
Coming Out At Uni

Coming out to anyone anywhere, at any time can be a stressful, anxious event. Not only are you sharing intimate information about yourself – your sexuality- but you are opening yourself to an entire spectrum of reactions that may or may not be easy to deal with. Much of this stress may be heightened at university due to the microcosmic societies that exist at these institutions. Intolerance still abounds, and when you are living, eating, sleeping, working and studying side-by-side with fellow students this intolerance, where it does exist, may seem a million times more intense. To help combat this tension, make sure that you are clear in your mind about coming out at university and hopefully when you do you will be delighted by others' reactions!

Coming Out – The Risks and Rewards

People come out (and choose not to come out) for a variety of personal reasons. The risks of coming out can be great, but so can the rewards so weigh up everything before you make any decisions. Consider:
  • How will you feel if others reject you or choose to end your friendship?
  • How will you deal with harassment or abuse, if it does occur?
  • Who will you lean on if others discriminate against you?
  • Do you feel that others must know your sexuality in order to truly know you?
  • Are you anxious for the sense of honesty and acceptance that can accompany coming out?
  • Are you seeking a deeper relationship with someone by coming out to them?
  • How out are you hoping to be? Do you want to come out to a select few, or the university in general?

Coming Out – The Practicalities

In a perfect world coming out wouldn’t even be necessary because sexuality wouldn’t matter to anyone, but in this world coming out is still a pretty big deal for most people. When you consider coming out at university, think about:
  • Specific people to whom you would like to come out. Try to choose good friends and those with an open mind. Perhaps think twice about mere acquaintances or those you know to be narrow minded.

  • A quiet setting for your discussions. You certainly don’t need to be interrupted during this chat.

  • Choosing a time that is good for you and for the person you will be speaking with. When you are sharing personal information you don’t want them to be thinking about their philosophy exam instead!

  • What you will say. Are you interested in having a long discussion about your sexuality and when you “knew,” or are you simply interested in being honest and moving on?

  • What you will do if the reaction is less than warm. Who will you turn to for support, and how will this affect your friendship?
Coming out is a deeply personal event, and this holds true for each and every time you come out to someone new. Before coming out at university, think about your intentions in coming out, what you hope to gain and stand to lose from the experience, and the practicalities of how you would like your discussions to occur. Only when you’re mind is made up and you feel comfortable with all of your decisions should you proceed. Good luck!

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