Law student Jess Jones explores her own and others experiences of being an LGBTQ+ student at Leeds Beckett University
Hey! My name is Jess, and I am a Law student at Leeds Beckett.
I identify as Bisexual and chose to write this article during pride month to share my own, and other students’ experiences of being a member of the LGBTQ+ community within the university.
Firstly, I would like to share my friend Darcy’s experiences as an LGBTQ+ student and a member of the K-pop society. Darcy identifies as Bisexual, and she came out at the age of 8.
She told me how she has come out a few times with different sexual identities and also gender identities. This being said her family has been quite accepting of her identifying as Bisexual.
She discussed with me how at such a young age she was very unsure on her identity and felt very confused during school, she felt that the media influenced her in both positive and negative ways. This is certainly something I relate to with media influence in my identity and I am sure it resonates with a lot of other people.
Darcy told me how when moving to Leeds to study at university she has found it a lot easier to be who she is without facing judgement and that even though the LGBTQ+ community is not mentioned on her course she wishes there would be more discussion as the game industry has a lot of members who are from the community.
Darcy said she feels being part of the K-pop society at university “is like a breath of fresh air”. She concluded how she feels everyone is accepted in the society and that there is no judgement both in the society and within the university too.
Secondly, I would like to share my friend Leanne’s experiences as an LGBTQ+ student and a member of the K-pop society. Leanne identifies as Pansexual; however, she came out in year 10 as Bisexual.
She found this quite daunting as there was little to no representation around her as there was gay and lesbian people in the town, she grew up in but she had never really met a person that was bisexual so that was hard for her to come to terms with.
When studying at college she learnt the fluidity of gender and sexuality, she slowly learned not care what other people thought about her and realised she was not into any specific gender. This helped her come to terms with being Pansexual and she let go of any restrictions she put on herself.
I think that we can also resonate with the struggle of coming to terms with your identity or even being confident enough to explore it, but just remember no-one’s opinions matter but yours.
Leanne has found when moving to Leeds to study on business course that there has been plenty of times that the LGBTQ+ community has come up within class discussion and not once has she been silenced or been made to feel ashamed, furthermore how any ideas that spring from being part of the community tend to be praised and acknowledged.
Whereas in her college being queer wasn’t discussed and it had an effect of feeling excluded. Leanne said to me that she has found safety in the K-pop society as everyone in there accepts her for who she is and have helped her through so much once she started university.
She concluded that how she feels the student union has been very welcoming and with the positive interactions in the society it has given her insight on how well things are handled to make sure queer members feel safe at university and in societies.
Thirdly, I would like to share my friend Hannah’s experiences as an LGBTQ+ student at Leeds Beckett.
Hannah identifies as Bisexual and came out in year 10 through discussion with her friends that she might like girls. She shared with me how her friends had seen the signs and that it was pretty clear, however, Hannah did not notice the signs herself.
She had a negative experience with her religious ex-boyfriend and he shut her down and dismissed her sexuality so she broke up with him. However a year later she said, “I felt I could open up to my friends and they accepted me.”
Hannah discussed with me how when moving to Leeds to study art at university she has noticed a wider community at university and has learnt about LGBTQ+ artists and is more open about inputting her sexuality into her artwork.
She is not a current member of society but is setting one up herself whilst working with other members of the LGBTQ+ community. Hannah’s aim for the society is to make sure that when people join that no-one will be turned away and that it will be a safe space for everyone to express themselves.
Finally, I would like to share my experiences insight as an LGBTQ+ student at Leeds Beckett. I have never come out to my family, but I have a widespread of friends who know I am Bisexual and support me.
I have always questioned my identity since the age of 5, it has taken me over 14 years to come to terms with my sexuality. The first time I came out officially was when I was 19 and sent a TikTok video to my friend captioned ‘the person who sent you this is bisexual.’ When I think back to that moment, I see it as a positive because it was the first time, I felt free to be who I am.
In terms of moving to Leeds to study at university, I have never felt once judged or felt I was not accepted, in my course for our studies we have discussed LGBTQ+ community but not in-depth. I have a few course mates that I have had conversations with about the community and some of these course mates are queer, but the conversations have always been approached with an open mind.
Within the K-pop society it has become such a safe and welcoming space with all the members being so understanding of all identities and when discussing the community there has never been a time where I felt silenced, I am honestly so thankful for the society.
I asked each friend for a celebrity icon who is important to them. Darcy chose Freddie Mercury with the quote, “I won’t be a rockstar, I will be a legend.” Leanne chose MAMAMOO as they have given so much representation to the community and have written all-inclusive lyrics in their songs.
Hannah chose Bert and Ernie from sesame street a comedic duo which she loves. My celebrity of choice is Anne Hathaway and her award speech quote, “Love is a human experience, not a political statement."