June 2024

Blog | Being an LGBTQ+ student celebrating the beautiful month of Pride

By David Kelland

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Read time: approx 5 mins

Hello, I'm David, a final year health and social care student at University College Birmingham.

I came out as gay to my friends and family in 2015. From then, I have enjoyed supporting and representing the LGBTQ+ community, providing support to others, empowering them to be authentic and celebrating who they are.

The purpose of this blog is to celebrate Pride Month and share my experiences as a member of the LGBTQ+ community here at the University.

When I came out as gay, I entered a whole new world, and I was unsure how to navigate it. I struggled to accept myself and, to this day, I’m not sure why. 

I faced these struggles on my own - until I found myself surrounded by LGBTQ+ friends. This support gave me the confidence to love and accept myself. My best friend also came out at a similar time and our friendship grew. We have helped each other on our journey of acceptance and love and I am forever grateful to have this friend in my life.

I also have my partner of seven years as a great support. Without him, I would not have considered doing a degree, let alone my master's later this year. He is my best supporter, and I love and thank him for supporting and encouraging me on my university journey.

When I began my journey at university three years ago, my concern was, would I be accepted? I was thrilled that all the staff and my lecturers accepted me, and I thank them for making me feel safe and welcome. This allowed me to be myself in lectures and around the University, which made my experience amazing! I could be myself, have a laugh with my lecturers, not hide who I am. It was amazing! They made the transition to university very enjoyable.

The only challenge I have faced since coming out is homophobic comments. Thankfully, not at university, but in my home town. These comments would make me upset and could have played a role in my struggle to accept myself. But having my friends and family support me through these times helped me. 

As I have got older, I have more self-awareness and resilience, which has made me see homophobic comments as just that. Words that cannot hurt me, and now, I can ignore the comments if and when they are made, laugh them off and move on.

Throughout my time at university, I haven’t needed support regarding my sexuality or anything related to this. However, student services naturally show warmth to me whenever I am conversing with or working alongside them. Students can seek support from the team, if needed, and I would encourage students to open up and talk. They are lovely and kind.

During Pride Month, there is a sense of unity from everyone who welcomes and accepts this community and other communities that identify as LGBTQ+. It is a beautiful, colourful time that exudes happiness, love and acceptance. I don’t feel alone and the atmosphere on campus is fantastic, with all the flags up and the events that happen. It's such a fun time!

Pride Month is important to me as it brings everyone together, and it’s a chance to celebrate who we are, show love, show how far we have come and show that we still have a long way to go for full acceptance. It’s a great time, a meaningful time to be myself, have fun with my friends at pride parades, and get to know new people in our community.

At times, it can be a struggle to accept ourselves for who we are, especially for those who have just come out or are in the process of even saying, “I am…”. And it is ok to take your time. There isn’t any rush to figure this out, but surrounding myself with loved ones and friends made my life at that point so much easier. Talking helps, and having that one person or a group of people you trust to talk to will make your journey easier. 

My advice is to love yourself. There's one of you in this world, and having you here makes this world a much happier, more colourful place. Always remember that you are loved and part of a fantastic community. And take your time finding your people, you'll be fine.

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