4 Lessons I Learned While Being Gay In College

4 Lessons I Learned While Being Gay In College

Congratulations. You just concluded your, uhm, "interesting" four years of being gay in high school.


Whether you were out and proud or not, you're finally off to college, which means a brand new beginning... Right?

You will finally break all ties with your small town, find the perfect friend group, meet the perfect man or woman, all while pursuing the path you were destined for. While some of this could very well be true for a select few people, it just was not for me. Such as life, being gay in college was a much, much more complicated (and often, isolating) venture.

In the hopes that one could better prepare for the journey that is being gay in university, I have compiled the knowledge I have gained during my time in school... so far at least.

1. Coming out is a process.

LGBT or not, everyone is finding themselves in college.

Somewhere, a pre-med student is failing O-chem and wants to switch majors, a girl is distraught because she isn't asked to be in her dream sorority, and a gay student is pacing back and forth deciding if he should come out to his family. I didn't come out to most of my family until I was 21 years old.

I had anxiously come out to my parents back in high school, told my best friend a year later, and now in my third year of college, I decided to come out to everyone: my grandparents, brothers, aunts and uncles, cousins, second cousins, great-grandparents, relatives once removed... you get the point. Coming out was (and still is) a process.

2. Dating can be difficult, and often times awkward.

Let's be honest, dating in the gay realm is pretty much nonexistent in high school.

Many young gay individuals, including myself, come to college thinking they will meet the person of their dreams. Maybe it will be the sexy barista at the local Starbucks, or maybe the TA in your biology lab who you swear has the hots for you. Or maybe "the one" will accidentally drop all his textbooks after lecture, only for you to ever-so-casually scoop them up as both your eyes meet. Or maybe the last one is just me.

Unfortunately, most of my dating life has been limited to uncomfortable Tinder dates, being ghosted on numerous occasions, and swearing I'd be better off living as a Tibetan monk. The bottom line is this: there are so many others dealing with the exact same situations. Never fear. College is a place where you can meet amazing gay individuals through your LGBT club, classes, library, local gay bar, and anywhere, really.

3. You might not find your "group," and that's OK.

I am an introvert. Now, many people think that being introverted means we are all antisocial and like to be holed up in our dorms watching Netflix on the weekends. While the Netflix part is somewhat true, I still love to be with people.

I just happen to prefer smaller, close-knit groups and don't derive my energy from big crowds. Being a transfer student, I made it my mission to find my people, perhaps even LGBT students like me. However, I felt as if everyone had formed their group during their freshman year.

My isolated feelings created a positive feedback. I stopped putting myself out there because I was too discouraged already, preventing me from improving my lonely state. Eventually, I found my bearings in my major courses and met some really cool people. Although I still lack a "group", I realized that I had friends everywhere: my classes, my study abroad friends, and even friends back home or halfway across the country. Don't let not having a core group steal the validity of the connections you have made.

4. The importance of focusing on you.

During my time in college, I have learned more about myself than I have in my entire life. Questions began to concern me as I began this strange period of independence. Where did I fit in college? How did I see myself in the gay community? Will I meet the right person? Will I succeed? Am I enough?

I decided recently that I wanted to channel my insecurities and feelings of isolation into improving myself, and that took the form of exercise. The best part about exercising was that I was doing it for the only person that really mattered: me. I realized that these four years shouldn't be wasted in pondering what could be, but what is. And while the future is uncertain, taking hold of the now is really the best favor we could ask of ourselves.

Popular Right Now

To The Teacher Who Was So Much More

Thank you for everything

I think it's fair to say that most people remember at least one teacher who had a lasting impact on them. I have been incredibly lucky to have several teachers who I will never forget, but one individual takes the cake. So here's to you: thank you for all you have done.

Thank you for teaching me lessons not just in the textbook.

Although you taught a great lecture, class was never just limited to the contents of the course. Debates and somewhat heated conversations would arise between classmates over politics and course material, and you always encouraged open discussion. You embraced the idea of always having an opinion, and always making it be heard, because why waste your voice? You taught me to fight for things I believed in, and to hold my ground in an argument. You taught me to always think of others before doing and speaking. You showed me the power of kindness. Thank you for all the important lessons that may not have been included in the curriculum.

Thank you for believing in me.

Especially in my senior year, you believed in me when other teachers didn't. You showed me just what I could accomplish with a positive and strong attitude. Your unwavering support kept me going, especially when I melted into a puddle of tears weekly in your office. You listened to my stupid complaints, understood my overwhelming stress-induced breakdowns, and told me it was going to be okay. Thank you for always being there for me.

Thank you for inspiring me.

You are the epitome of a role model. Not only are you intelligent and respected, but you have a heart of gold and emit beautiful light where ever you go. You showed me that service to others should not be looked at as a chore, but something to enjoy and find yourself in. And I have found myself in giving back to people, thanks to your spark. Thank you for showing me, and so many students, just how incredible one person can be.

Thank you for changing my life.

Without you, I truly would not be where I am today. As cliche as it sounds, you had such a remarkable impact on me and my outlook on life. Just about a year has passed since my graduation, and I'm grateful to still keep in touch. I hope you understand the impact you have made on me, and on so many other students. You are amazing, and I thank you for all you have done.

Cover Image Credit: Amy Aroune

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

It's Time For You High Schoolers To Invest Your Time Into Your Careers

It may seem too early to specialize, but there will be a point where it's too late.


If you're in high school, odds are you're approached by friends, family and more family about your plans after. For many of us, this can mean college. From convincing a college to admit you to convincing them to foot your entire tuition bill, you need to be marketable.

You should start with writing out your resume. Write it specifically oriented towards your career path. My resume, for example, is music themed. If you are anything like younger me, you might have a couple things that fit. I had marching band, concert band, honor band. But the majority might be things you signed up for to round yourself out.

A candidate too well rounded is directionless.

My participation in science club was fun, I will admit. But it didn't do much for me. It didn't teach me leadership, nor cooperation nor did it help with my career path.

High school is a lot more limited a time to both express and market yourself than you might think. Before I knew it, I was sitting in my junior year without much to my musical name.

If you have an extra curricular that you participate in because you enjoy it, you don't have to drop it. If you have developed as a person or as a leader, then it might even be something you can include in your list.

I just want to caution people from getting into the same situation I was in. I spent the first three years essentially of high school to feel out different areas, and this was too much time.

Productive uses of your after school time should be things you talk about when you say what sets you apart from other students in your field. And yes, this means you have to utilize tools outside of your school offerings most of the time.

When I go to apply for college and for musical internships, I plan on listing my participation in Atlanta CV (professional drum corps in DCA), high school marching band and marching band leadership, MAYWE (Metropolitan Atlanta Youth Wind Ensemble, an auditioned honor band), GYSO (Georgia Youth Symphony Orchestra), AYWS (Atlanta Youth Wind Symphony), Youth Bands of Atlanta, county honor band, jazz band, twice state applicant for Governor's Honors Program Music, JanFest music at UGA, the Academy of Science, Research and Medicine (Biotechnology certification and science fair), math bowl and HOSA - Future Health Professionals.

When I go to apply for college and for musical internships, I plan on listing the most relevant activities as well as the ones I've chosen to regardless stick with. Relevant activities in regard to my music major include honor ensembles and marching activities.

My most applicable activities for music include marching bands. I am a contracted baritone marcher of Atlanta CV Drum and Bugle Corps as well as trombone marcher and two year Trombone/Baritone Section Leader for the Pride of Paulding marching band. These show relevancy because these organizations provide rapport as well as the marching activity in itself shows another level of musical capability.

My honor ensembles are relevant likewise because they show higher musical skill and provide some legitimacy to your path. I have been involved in Metropolitan Atlanta Youth Wind Ensemble, county honor band, jazz band and I was also a Two-Time State Applicant to the Governor's Honors Program.

I plan to also be with the Symphony of the Georgia Youth Symphony Orchestra, Atlanta Youth Wind Ensemble, Youth Bands of Atlanta and JanFest at UGA. Auditions are coming up for each of these and I hope to be considered for membership. These would round out my music application by showing versatility (via orchestra along with wind ensembles) and more time dedication. Both universities and employers value this level of hard work.

Of course, even I on my soapbox have some activities I've stuck with despite it not being directly related to music. Despite this, you can make them relevant by touting your experience with it. I've been an officer and competitor for our chapter of HOSA - Future Health Professionals despite not going into healthcare and I've been certified in Biotechnology through my school The Academy of Science, Research and Medicine despite not going into STEM.

My experiences in biotechnology and healthcare have provided me a round academic experience, more high rigor classes and leadership opportunities. I was co-treasurer of our HOSA chapter and my Magnet school gave me access to more AP classes and the biotechnology classes. Anything can be useful, but the extent is determined by its relevancy.

The vast majority of my activities are both outside of the school and directly related to my career path. Activities such as these can make any student automatically more competitive than an equally academically-standing student.

Finding these activities involve a combination of involving teachers and mentors in your career field as well as self research. Luckily for me, I was able to fairly quickly compile a list of Honor Bands to audition for due to the abundance in the area. My directors also named a few. Most areas should have something at least tangentially-related to your specialization.

Some opportunities require knowing the right people and being in the right place at the right time. For example, my involvement in one of my most valuable activity assets, Atlanta CV, was a result of knowing a guy that knew a guy that knew about an opening for the right instrument halfway through spring training.

What I hope readers gain from my story is to start early. I've found myself struggling to meet the market's standards in the last year of high school immediately before applying for college. Specializing would have been more effective a tad bit longer term and I hope others take my heed.

Moving on from high school can be an intimidating process. It's hard to find the right college, and even harder to convince them they want you. Harder still is convincing them to pay for your education. But all this can be made easier by specializing and becoming marketable.

Related Content

Facebook Comments