“Identifying as queer gives me a way to bond with people from all over the world”
BY YAIZA CANOPOLI
Coming to study in the UK from Germany, it was a bit of a shock for me to find that I didn’t fit in with British students quite as well as I’d hoped I would.
It didn’t really hit me until I went home for Christmas after the first semester – I had, admittedly, been in denial about how alienated I felt from my flatmates and a lot of the student groups. However, one thing that got me through my first year of university? The Pride Society.
The first Pride event I attended was aimed specifically at all of the international and EU students. I went with one of my flatmates – a trans man from Finland – and the person who would two years later become my girlfriend.
I have nothing but positive memories of that day. The Pride committee were welcoming and offered badges with pronouns. An amazing variety of accents could be heard across the room and everyone mingled and laughed comfortably.
Despite our different backgrounds and any potential language barriers, we didn’t feel like strangers because we all knew we had this, the LGBTQI community, in common.
That was also the day I met my best friend. She had just moved from Greece, and, as I discovered over the years, she also felt isolated in her new home. We got to know each other that night and then met again at the Pride Society book club.
I asked her to join me at a drag night taking place on campus a few days later, our friendship finally solidifying over glitter beards and enthusiastic thrusting. Over time, we bonded over our love of But I’m A Cheerleader and proceded to watch our way through a whole lot of queer films.
I might have met her on campus at some point, it’s true, but I would never have walked up to her without the comfort of an internationally-focused, queer space. I felt this way many times over the three years I spent at university, always surprised once again to find that the LGBTQI community comes from and exists everywhere.
Identifying as queer gave me a way to bond with people from all over the world and was my main way of feeling less alienated by some of the British students around me. There is nothing quite like realising that while you lived miles apart and spoke different languages growing up, you still have experiences in common.
Now, as Pride season and my time at university comes to a close, I cannot thank the LGBTQI community at my university enough for allowing me to meet my best friend, my partner, for organising alcohol-free events, for putting on a queer book club, and for just straight-up (no pun intended) existing.
Onto the next country…
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