Category Archives: Cultural Organizations

Surviving Your First Year of College As An LGBTQ+ Student

Freedom Doesn’t Mean Force It

Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should come out to the stranger next to you in Chem class that you just met fifteen minutes ago. The freedom is tempting, but don’t rush it. Come out to your new friends when you feel comfortable. Nine times out of ten we already know.

Double Rainbows are Better Than Two

Whether you are out or not, as an LGBTQ+ college student you need to find other students that think and act like you. Join an LGBTQ+ student organization. Befriend the extra queer student who inspires you to be yourself. Go to your first Pride Parade. Who or what is stopping you now? If you’re scared of coming out but still want to be included, don’t worry. You can still pull out that old Ally card.

Rainbows Get Annoying Sometimes

You’re out now. You’ve settled into your new found identity or you were already out and are living the life of the LGBTQ+ college student. You have the rainbow stickers. The pride flags. You live, breathe, sleep, and bleed social justice and are practically a walking Human Rights Campaign. Simmer down hot sauce. Simmer down. We all know you are a member of the community. Hell, we probably knew before you told anyone. No need to spend every waking moment reminding us. Remember, your sexuality/gender identity and expression are only a fraction of who you are.

Get Straight Friends

Now that you have immersed yourself in the gay culture, the fabulousness will at times become too much. Solution: the time has come to get straight friends. What? Straight friends? The heteronormative lifestyle has confined you for far too long, you say. You are not going back into the dark closet, you say. Thank me later when the problems and drama of the gay world come crashing down on you from all sides. And you will thank me later.

We Are Everywhere

Love (also known as casual sex on college campuses) is in the air. And you want in. But where are all the sexy LGBTQ+ people like the ones you admire from YouTube? That’s the great and discouraging thing about the LGBTQ+ community. We come in all varieties and not all of us immediately read as gay. It’s great. But it makes this hooking up thing difficult. Worry not. We are everywhere. Really. We are. College breeds curiosity and not only in the classroom.

All Clubs Are Not Created Equal

I’ve been to straight clubs and gay clubs. And trust me, they are not the same. Although it may not be like this in every straight club everywhere, but it seems like the aura is different. It feels stuffier and more constrained. Whereas the gay clubs I’ve visited seem to be more open, free, and fun.

Running Into the Occasional (or Frequent Homophobe)

I’ve experienced it and maybe you have too. But if you aren’t out and come out during your first year of college, you are going to run into the homophobe or anti-LGBTQ+ student. College is after all a place where people from all walks of life converge. I still remember my encounter with a student in my class who I thought was rather educated and nice enough. I am still in shock over the day I overheard her talking to her friend, bashing gays and those of my gender identity who prefer not to conform to normative feminine clothing. Her friend, seeing my utter amazement and disbelief, changed the subject. Later on in the semester, she asked me to edit a few papers for her. Moral of the story, we all have to face moments like that in life, but approaching the person with hatred and anger is never the solution to the problem.

Enjoy It

On a lighter note, just relax and enjoy it. College is a time for doing stupid things that will make for the best stories later on in. Enjoy your freedom and embrace your new friends and experiences. Reinvent yourself if you want to. There’s no time like college to get a new start and learn to love all parts of yourself, the queer ones included.

Introverts United

Big talk in small groups instead of small talk in big groups.

Around the beginning of the Fall 2011 semester, some friends and I started the cultural organization Introverts United.

When talking about the club to other people I usually get one of two general responses. The first is that the other person is highly interested and wants to know what we do. The second and more common response is a look of confusion coupled with relatively mocking questions or comments. After all, why would a bunch of introverts be gathering in a group?

As the president of Introverts United, I declared it as cultural organization under the Office of Multicultural Affairs from its beginning, along side over a dozen of its sister orgs such as Voices for Women, the Interfaith Club, Black Student Union, and the Multi-Ethnic Student Society (MESS). Our position as a cultural organization helps legitimize introverts as a recognizable class of people facing discrimination in a society that is designed for and over-values the traits of extroversion.

The irony of Introverts United is one of its strong points; however, I have still had to clear up stereotypes and misconceptions about introverts many times.

The first and most common is that introverts are shy. These are two different concepts, although they can look the same to an outsider. Introversion is a fuzzy and complicated thing to define, but it can perhaps be best understood by what energizes and what drains a person’s energy. For an introvert, it costs energy to socially interact with someone, although there are varying degrees and exceptions, and they recharge while they have time alone. Everyone embodies both introvert and extrovert characteristics, but people are usually oriented more strongly towards one or the other.

Shyness, on the other hand, is the fear of negative social judgment and is inherently uncomfortable. Both introversion and shyness can limit social interaction, the difference is that introvert is overwhelmed and the shy person is anxious. A person can be both shy and introverted, of course, but they are not the same thing. Bill Gates is a good example of an introvert that is not shy. Shyness and extroversion can also overlap.

Another common misconception is that introverts and antisocial or asocial, whereas introverts are simply differently social. People who are oriented towards introversion tend to prefer smaller groups of people and more meaningful conversation: big talk in small groups instead of small talk in big groups. As a result, the common notion of the social scene simply may not that interesting to an introvert.

There is much more to be said about introversion, but I’ll cover those in future posts.