Whether you’re loud, proud and out; still in the closet; or even questioning parts of your identity, navigating queer identity at Wake Forest can be as difficult as not falling off Rainbow Road in MarioKart (forgive me, I had to). But it doesn’t have to be that way. Here are five tips to make the most of the Wake Forest queer experience.
Community is important for any college freshman. There will be a lot of pressure (a lot of pressure) to find your forever group of friends in the first five minutes of your Wake Forest experience. And that may happen! If it does not, though, do not be discouraged. Ultimately, seeking out community, especially at designated queer spaces on campus, is a great first step to making meaningful connections that will become so important over the next four years and beyond.
Wake Forest is, at least on its face, overwhelmingly cisgender and straight. Finding other queer people may seem like a lost cause by day three, but you will find them. There are also some amazing allies on campus that will be valuable friends, as well. Find the people who love you for all that you are and nothing less.
The LGBTQ+ center is a great place to start. Led by AJ Mazaris and Kayla Lisenby-Denson (who are amazing, by the way), the center hosts events open to all students — from allies to those questioning to those who are screaming their queerness from the rooftops. The Center also hosts identity spaces, such as T Time (for trans students), Lavender Menace (for sapphic students) and QTPOC Connections (for queer and trans students of color). These identity spaces are safe spaces that you can go to for community, even if you are not out!
With the wave of anti-queer sentiment and legislation that has swept through the United States and infected social media, taking time to check in on your mental wellbeing has become even more important. The counselors in the Counseling Center are fairly queer competent — and have some very good referral recommendations for queer-positive counseling outside of Wake Forest’s gates. The counseling center also offers a queer therapy group, which can be very helpful.
Take time to explore parts of your identity
College is a transformational time. Living arrangements change every four-or-so months, friends can come and go, etc. With that — and also with all the new things one learns about themselves in college — can come some serious questions about who you are and how you fit in. Do not shy away from those questions. Take time to sit with them, and talk to people you trust about the questions you are having. Also, feel free to experiment with identities! If you think a new set of pronouns might fit, go for it. Want to try a new form of gender expression? Go for it! Want to make out with a cute person from a gender you’re not usually attracted to? This is college, go for it (with the other person’s consent, of course). Lean into the chaos, you will be glad you did.
Don’t let anyone, and I mean anyone, dull your sparkle
Shame is a powerful weapon in society’s arsenal against queer people. People will both consciously and unconsciously tell you that who you are is wrong or makes you lesser than someone who is not queer. Do not listen to them.
You are wonderful just the way you are, and in college, you will grow to be even more wonderful. You are right where you belong, and if anyone tells you otherwise, they’re flat out lying.
Welcome to Wake Forest, baby queers. We’re so happy to have you.