LGBT+ refers to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, plus many other variations of gender and sexuality, including (but certainly not limited to) pansexual, asexual, intersex and non-gender binary. They’re grouped together because although gender and sexuality are different things, they raise similar issues related to the perception of gender roles and prejudice in society.
If this describes you or a friend, you might find the information on this page useful.
Being attracted to people of the same sex is a perfectly normal thing, as is feeling attracted to both males and females or being attracted to people regardless of their gender identity. Many people feel an attraction to people of the same sex at some point in their lives, or for all their lives.
So if your dream is getting married, having kids and settling down, being LGBT+ needn’t stop that happening!
Some people find that they do not experience sexual attraction at all, and that is completely normal. Again, if you want to find a partner and settle down in the future then that option is still available to you. (Wikipedia: Asexuality)
Gender does not have to be a binary choice of male or female. Some people choose to transition their body to match their identity, but this isn’t something everyone feels they want or need to do. The only important thing is that you are happy and comfortable in your own body.
You might feel that the terms ‘genderqueer’ or ‘gender neutral’ better describe your gender, but you don’t have to pick any label at all!
If your friend isn’t open about their sexuality or gender identity, or they haven’t ‘come out’ to you, there are still things you can do to be supportive. Gay marriage, gay bishops and LGBT+ celebrities always seem to be in the news, so there are many opportunities to casually mention how you are supportive of LGBT+ rights, how being LGBT+ is normal, etc.
If a friend tells you they are LGBT+, the best thing to do is to accept what they say, offer reassurance that it won’t affect your friendship, and be clear that you’ll support them and be there for them. There’s a great list of ways to offer support on the Irish belongto website.
You might identify as lesbian, gay, queer, bisexual, asexual, trans, or straight, or some other label, or none at all – all of these are perfectly valid choices!
Sometimes labels can be useful to help you assert your identity or to help other people understand you, but they aren’t great at reflecting the subtleties and variety of sexuality and gender.
It’s easy for sexuality and gender to become awkward secrets, especially if the people around you make assumptions about you. Secrets can be a cause of stress and emotional pain and can make you feel you are being dishonest. However, you shouldn’t feel you have to come out straightway, it’s usually best to wait until you’re ready. Sometimes people decide not to come out to certain people, (particularly if they think that person will react negatively) which is ok too. The most important thing is to be comfortable with your identity, and with the people you decide to tell.
‘Coming out (of the closet)’ refers to telling someone else about something that was previously hidden – especially about your sexuality or gender identity. You may have to come out several times – to friends, to family, and maybe to lecturers or work colleagues.
If you’re thinking of coming out, you’ll probably have many worries. But remember, you’re not alone – there’s some good support out there:
Whatever your sexuality or gender identity, you’ll find there’s other students at Bristol with similar situations! No two people are the same, but we can all learn from each other...
Here are some of your opportunities to meet others:
Hate incidents and hate crime are taken seriously by the police. Report such crimes and incidents to the police. You can also contact their LGBT liaison team.
The Students’ Union currently has active policy on getting the university to provide gender neutral toilets in each department. Many departments are spread between various buildings, and unfortunately some of those will not be able to host gender neutral toilets. View our Policy page for updates.
If you have any questions about the progress on this motion or access concerns please get in touch with your LGBT+ Officer at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Below is a list of locations where there are gender neutral toilets. If you have any more to add please get in touch at:email@example.com. You can also view the Google Map of gender neutral toilets in Bristol.
Sexual health is important for everyone who is sexually active, so it’s important to know about how to reduce your risks, and get tested for sexually-transmitted infections. The people running these services are professionals who respect your privacy and aren’t judgmental!
Problems of mental health are very common – and more so among LGBT+ people. So it’s important to look after your mental health and know how to find support.
At Bristol SU, we promote equality and diversity – for example by campaigning for: