Confused by terms such as LGBTQ+, asexual, pansexual, polyamory, transman?
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. See the box on the right for definitions of these terms and acronyms.
You might feel some of these terms accurately reflect your identity, or you might feel that none of them do. 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:
Bristol SU have campaigned to get 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.
If you have any questions about this or access concerns please get in touch with the Bristol SU LGBT+ Network.
Below is a list of locations where there are gender neutral toilets. If you have any more to add please get in touch at:firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
Our Campaigns page has more information about campaigns Bristol SU are involved in, such as:
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.