If you identify as LGBTQ, are questioning your identity or just a brilliant ally, there are so many things you can get involved with and ways you can feel represented here at York. Not only is the city of York a liberal-minded city full of thriving independent queer-friendly businesses, but there are also loads of things going on on the University campus too. To celebrate LGBTQ+ History Month, I have put together my very own York student guide to all things queer! Have a read to find out about some of the things you can get up to when you come and study at York!
The Students’ Union
The York University Students’ Union (YUSU) elects part-time officers every year who are responsible for representing the views and needs of LGBTQ students. The officers run campaigns to make York a more inclusive and diverse place for LGBTQ people and see that awareness of LGBTQ issues is increased.
As well as this, they also lead the LGBTQ Network. This is a student group that you can be part of as an LGBTQ student at York. The Network focuses on campaigning, leading discussion and spreading awareness. And they also host relaxed meetings and mixers. As part of the Network, there are individual groups for lesbian, gay, bi, trans*, queer, asexual, aromantic, and intersex. This allows you to meet other individuals who identify as you do!
The LGBTQ Social Society
The Students’ Union supports a whole range of societies (over 200!), one of which is the LGBTQ Social Society. Twice a week during term time the society runs social events for any LGBTQ identifying student or allies. It is a brilliant way to meet other LGBTQ students, especially when you first move to York.
As the current Chair of the society, I am very biased, however, all our members would definitely agree with me when I say that having such a positive and accepting space really makes your university experience unforgettable. Events include: bar crawls, games nights, pizza and PJs, and even trips to London or Newcastle. Since the society solely focuses on social events it allows the LGBTQ community to have a space to meet that is not a constant reminder of the need for us to campaign for our rights. This is something that I believe is so important and actually quite unique to the University of York.
Your College Officers
At York, we have a collegiate system. This means that you are assigned a college (usually based on your first-year accommodation) which becomes your community while you are at York. Within your college, you will have a college LGBTQ officer, and they work alongside your college’s Junior Common Room Committee (JCRC), and the YUSU LGBTQ Officers. They are a great first point of call if you have any questions. It is brilliant to know that you have further representation at college level as well as Students’ Union level.
Many departments actually have their own LGBTQ representatives. For instance, the Biology Department has “BioEDG” representatives for LGBTQ, BAME and disability. They meet with staff to talk about how the department can be more accessible. As I study biology I have chosen to take on the responsibility of being one of the LGBTQ BioEDG reps for my department. We also hold meetings for chats and socialising within the department over some lunchtimes- with free cake and drinks! Having these department-specific LGBTQ reps allows you to feel supported by your department and shows how dedicated they are to uphold inclusivity and diversity.
York is such a wonderfully vibrant yet quaint city, which excels in being home to so many independent shops, cafes and restaurants. Although it may not have its own gay clubbing scene such as cities like Newcastle or Manchester, it’s liberal-minded friendly atmosphere makes it a comfortable and safe place to be LGBTQ. The plethora of independent businesses means that there are some lovely LGBTQ-run places to visit. Such as Cosy Time– the LGBTQ cafe, or Portal Bookshop– the queer bookshop, as well as many more I don’t have time to talk about! York is also a very safe city and I have personally always felt safe as an LGBTQ person walking around York. Even walking home from a night out in the early hours of the morning, I have never felt unsafe
So whether you want to get involved in campus life or you’d rather spend most of your time in the city, you can definitely find a community here at York that welcomes you with open arms!