In this blog I will be discussing my experiences as a black and LGBTQ+ student at the University of York. Coming to University can be scary, and for me, the scariest part was trying to find my place. In my high school and sixth form I was one of the only black students in the whole school, and one of even less LGBTQ+ students. No one ever even acknowledged sexuality so I didn’t even really discover who I was until University.
Coming to uni
When I first got to University, I was amazed at how open everyone was about their sexuality. In fact, nearly half of my 12 person flat was proudly LGBTQ+!
Meeting so many LGBTQ+ people who were so confident and proud of who they were was so amazing to me. And they were so accepting of the fact that I didn’t know what to label myself or have any experience amongst the community.
Meeting new friends
I also met so many people from all over the world, just in my flat alone. So I no longer felt like I stuck out like a sore thumb like in my previous, majority-white schools.
I joined the African Carribean Society (ACS) when I first started in York. I was excited to get to make black friends which I never had the chance to at school. However, I didn’t really fit in with the rest of the people there as, growing up in America, being a black American was my identity. It has its own culture which was very different from the people in ACS, who were very close to their specific African/Caribbean country’s cultural identity, which I was not.
However, this year I found other black students that felt the same way as me, some of
which were even LGBTQ+ just like me! And it was so amazing to be able to bond over shared experiences and it was crazy how fast we gelled with each other!
The University of York has always been very accepting of everyone (in my experience) and that extends to the societies and events put on. There are many LGBTQ+ societies such as the YUSU LGBTQ+ Network, the LGBTQ Social Society and the Women and Non-Binary Network!
I haven’t had a lot of experience with any of these societies yet (due to COVID). But I hope to go to some LGBTQ+ socials once they can run again because they’re always fun!
In fact, one of the highlights of first year for me was going to a Drag Bingo event that was held at Glasshouse, my favourite student bar that was on East Campus, close to my accommodation. It even got some of my friends into the art of Drag, one of which even wants to try it at some point, which I am very excited to see!
So, to conclude…
I went into University unsure of who I was and what my place would be here. And I’ve learnt that I didn’t have to find my place, my place would find me. I’m so grateful to the University of York and the people I met here for being such a big reason I was able to accept who I was. (I even came out this Pride month!)