‘Fitting In’ as LGBTQ in UL

The difference between UL and School is massive.

University is such a different place to secondary school when it comes to being lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer (LGBTQ). It’s almost a freeing feeling to move to university, like there are endless opportunities to meet new people, to learn, to have fun and, for many of us, figure out and become comfortable with our sexuality, or gender identity.

UL is generally a really good university campus to be LGBTQ. Queer people tend to get as little hassle as can be expected while on campus for their sexuality, or gender identity, with people generally being more accepting of who you are. Unfortunately some people will always have pre-conceived issues with LGBTQ people and create some problems, although the general campus community tends to stand up against incidents like this. There are plenty of groups, supports and events in UL for LGBTQ people to look after and enjoy themselves.

 

The Society Where you Will Always Fit In.

Out in UL is the university’s award-winning LGBTQ society. They hold weekly members’ meetings, workshop and events, aiming to support and educate members and the wider UL community. Joining the society is a great way to meet new people, learn about LGBTQ issues and explore your own gender/sexuality. They ensure confidentiality for member’s needs, but regularly have nights out and events to meet new people and make new friends. Straight allies wanting to learn about LGBTQ issues and make new friends are always welcome to join the society too.

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There is a befriender service run by Out in UL, where you can meet with two trained and experienced members in a relaxed, public environment to talk about anything you need: coming out, fitting in, what the society does, or just to have a chat. It’s open to people of any genders and sexualities, including straight allies who might want to ask questions. All you need to do is email outinul@gmail.com to set-up a meeting.

The society meets every Monday at 7pm and holds regular events on campus open to the rest of UL. This includes the annual Rainbow Week events in the first semester, as well as the Alternative Miss UL drag competition and Queerbash event in the second semester. The society can be contacted by emailing outinul@gmail.com , or visit their website: www.outinul.ie .

 

If You Need Someone To Talk To

The university’s counselling service is there for you to talk to about anything you’re struggling with, including your sexuality or gender identity. The service is completely free and they’re professionally trained. Although there have been waiting lists in the past, there are drop-in consultations available by just calling into CM-072 at the designated times. From there, future appointments can be booked. It’s really important to be able to talk about your gender identity or sexuality, particularly given the higher rates of mental health issues experienced by LGBTQ people. The counselling service is completely confidential, but used by most students during their time in UL, so never feel bad about just needing to talk to them.

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#MarRef

In 2015, the university’s pro-same-sex marriage campaign was hugely well-received by the campus community. This created a real sense of acceptance and welcoming that, perhaps, many LGBTQ people in UL hadn’t felt before. The atmosphere has been maintained on campus, with the Students’ Union opening its first gender-neutral bathroom last year.

 

Queer Spaces Outside of UL.

Limerick, of course, goes beyond the university’s campus. It can be more of a mixed-bag in terms of homophobic and queerphobic incidents in the city, but it is often a very welcoming place for LGBTQ people and same-sex couples. GOSHH (Gender, Orientation, Sexual Health and HIV) are located on Davis Street and provide information, support groups and r­­­un campaigns relating to LGBTQ people in Limerick. You can visit www.GOSHH.ie , or email info@goshh.ie for more information.

Limerick’s gay bar, Strokers, is located on Upper William Street. I’ve found that, particularly on weekday nights, it’s usually quite empty, although it’s busier and livelier on Saturday nights. It’s a great place to go if you have a group of friends who want to hang out in a chill queer safe space on a night out, or before moving onto a bigger venue on a night out.

The annual Limerick Pride parade takes place in July, marching down O’Connell Street. Although not as big as Dublin’s annual march, it brings out the best of the city’s LGBTQ community and allies for a celebration of queerness.

 

A positively positive place to be Out.

Limerick, and particularly the university campus, is all-round a great place to be LGBTQ. Whether you’ve not come out yet, or have been for ages, it’s a very positive place to be queer. With Out in UL there is a great way to learn, meet other LGBTQ people and have fun, while with the counselling service, Students’ Union and GOSHH there are plenty of supports available.

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If you are LGBTQ, or questioning just make sure that you do you regardless of what life might have been like before university. If you’ve just starting the coming out process, make sure to be patient with yourself and trust the supports around you. Regardless, enjoy every aspect of university that you can while in UL, it really can be a great place to be LGBTQ!

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