Students talk: The social & sexual pressures of being LGBTQ+

1 “The name calling has to stop”

Handholding

“I’ve had gay friends tell me that they didn’t want God because they felt God didn’t want them. It is heartbreaking and absolutely unacceptable that we live in a society that has made people feel this way.”
—Fourth-year undergraduate, Arkansas

“People use derogatory terms, such as f** and twink. It’s ridiculous that ‘gay’ is used as an insult. People need to realize the implications. I’ve seen people misgendering trans people. If someone wants to be labeled a specific gender, I don’t understand why it’s hard to understand that.”
—Fourth-year undergraduate, Maryland

“Having a friend [talk about] how someone being called a ‘faggot’ is not offensive is extremely frustrating. Name calling and treating people as ‘less’ than a cis/heterosexual person needs to stop.”
—Fourth-year undergraduate, New Brunswick

“I was talking with a woman who identifies as queer, and she began to cry and speak about how the word [faggot] affects her.”
—Fifth-year undergraduate, California

2 “I feel sexual pressure because of their misconceptions”

“After I first came out, I felt pressure from my early partners to fit some kind of stereotype that every gay man should enjoy rough sex, frequently. Intimacy was less of a focus, which made me uncomfortable. Sexual violence was common because many people lost sight of the line between what was acceptable and was going too far, while victims were discouraged [from speaking] up. I found myself in a few shady situations and was judged as not being sexually free or forward-thinking if I was not willing to participate.”
—Second-year undergraduate, Alberta

“I know many people on the asexual spectrum who accepted sex they were not comfortable with because they thought they were supposed to want it.”
—Second-year graduate student, New York

“I hate going to gay bars and being ‘cruised’ by other men. Sometimes I’m just going to have fun and am not looking for a hookup.”
—First-year graduate student, New York

“I’ve had people tell me ‘bisexuals are just sluts.’”
—Fourth-year undergraduate, Alberta

3 “It can be terrifying to ask for help”

“It can be exhausting to hear [stereotypical] comments about you over and over again. There are allies, but sometimes the haters will feel louder. It can be terrifying to ask for help when you don’t know if you’ll be bashed or supported.”
—Second-year undergraduate, Ontario

“It is hard to utilize needed services when you see no representation of you.”
—Fourth-year graduate student, New York

“I have a fraternity brother that was assaulted by a man that he was in a casual sexual relationship with. My brother avoided seeking help because the fraternity and many people in our social circle were not aware of his sexual preferences, [which] differed from rigid heterosexuality. I want him and everyone to know that there will always be true friends and family that will support you.”
—Third-year graduate student, District of Columbia

“Oftentimes, [reports of assault] seem to fall on deaf ears, or unsympathetic ears. The ideal situation for help would be to have trained members of their community available.”
—Second-year graduate student, California

4 “I want to come out as trans, but I’m afraid”

“Very few people know about my identity and orientation. Sometimes I feel maybe people would respect me if I came out, but [then] I’ll hear some prejudiced remark and be knocked right back down again. Even today, I heard three separate people make a transphobic remark. I want to come out. I want to be able to live life how I want to, but I’m afraid of what might happen if I do.”
—First-year undergraduate, Wyoming

“I have a friend who is not gay and is attracted to females, but he also wishes that he was a female. He knows that to live life and be happy, he should not hide who he truly is. He wears female clothing. There are many awkward and shameful stares, but he remains strong and courageous. Why should he hide? I stand by my friend, accepting and encouraging his identity.”
—Fourth-year undergraduate, Ontario

5“The LGB community isn’t always there for us”

“I think the trans community has a very hard time finding help or shelter. In the eyes of the straight community, they are ‘unnatural,’ they are ‘freaks’ and ‘liars.’ To some of the gay community, [trans people] are not ‘truly’ gay, since some female-to-male or male-to-female trans individuals transition ‘too well,’ or they are heterosexual after their changes.”
—Second-year undergraduate, Missouri

“It can be incredibly hard for LGBTQ members to reach out for help, because even doing that could out us and put us in a dangerous situation. And sometimes I feel like my identity isn’t even taken seriously within the LGBTQ community, which doesn’t leave me with a lot of options.”
—First-year undergraduate, Wyoming

6 “It’s still not easy meeting new people”

“I am a girl who is dating a girl and I have felt judged and picked on multiple times because of it. As much as people say it is becoming more acceptable, it is still not easy meeting new people and having them find out.”
—Second-year graduate student, Alberta

“Many of closest friends are gay, ace, genderqueer, and so on. I go to a small Christian school that is pretty accepting, and still, they tell me about the things people do or say toward them, even well-meaning things, that are just ignorant and hurtful. My friend has to be extremely careful about who he opens up to, because he never knows how who’s going to be accepting and who’s going to be hostile.”
—Fourth-year undergraduate, Arkansas

“When I [learned about] asexuality, I was so happy to know I wasn’t alone, but telling people still rewards me with weird looks and disbelief.”
—Third-year undergraduate, New York

7“Abuse always involves a double standard”

“In high school, people always tended to make fun of this guy who acted very ‘girly.’ It took a great toll on him and finally one day he had enough and came out and told everyone that he was gay and they had to deal with it. I know that the kids who abused him would not have been able to handle what they did to him if [their] positions were ever reversed.”
—Third-year undergraduate, British Columbia

“I am a homosexual male, but fortunately have never been the target of harassment or abuse. I think the situation could have been much different if I were not male-identified and didn’t have a masculine personality. I understand how important it is for all types of homosexual and/or gay men to be accepted, and not be the target of negative actions based on their gender identity or masculine and feminine traits.”
—Fourth-year undergraduate, British Columbia

8“My campus community gets me”

“I am gay and I just came out to my friends on campus this school year. I’ve been called names here and there, but the overwhelming support has been amazing. College has changed my life for the better and I couldn’t be more grateful for my school. As they say in the musical Kinky Boots: ‘Just be who you want to be, never let them tell you who you ought to be.’”
—Second-year undergraduate, West Virginia

“I’m a lesbian and I actually feel safe on my campus; times are changing. I do not feel discriminated against.”
—Second-year undergraduate, New Brunswick

“At my college we are a very open community…It is when I interact with older people out in the real world that I sometimes have problems.”
—Second-year graduate student, Missouri

“Two female students holding hands got harassed by a passing vehicle for being gay. It was awful to watch but they stood strong and kept holding hands. Their reaction was inspiring.”
—Fourth-year undergraduate, Ontario