Zac shares how joining the LGBTQ+ Community at Cardiff helped him discover himself
My name is Zac, I use He/him pronouns and I’m bisexual, but it took me a long time to work all of that out. Getting to know the LGBTQ+ community whilst studying Social Science at Cardiff University really threw me into my journey of discovering myself.
Being able to explore my identity openly with support from those around me, whilst covering gender and sexuality in my studies, allowed me to come out and express myself using terminology and arguments from history. Which in a time when coming out as trans, in particular, is so heavily criticised gave me a lot more confidence in being my authentic self and defending that.
joining the LGBTQ+ community helped me discover myself
I was always a ‘tomboy’ as a child and had only really begun to accept the part of my sexuality that wasn’t ‘straight’ when I came to University. Learning, in more depth, how as children, making comparisons is a fundamental part of cognitive development and the incessant binary gendered nature of society, I would argue, pushes us into gender roles. It became a lot easier to step away and identify that my identity until then felt forced upon me.
For me personally, University gave me space to express myself. Coming out has meant losing my family as they don’t accept who I am. In my first year here I was very slow to experiment or truly explore the LGBTQ+ community on offer. I can remember when I finally did join, it came after taking a break from my studies, coming back sure of my sexuality but not my gender and about four laps of the Freshers’ Fair by which time a member from the LGBT+ Association noticed and asked if I’d like to speak to him. I had a lot of back and forth about whether I was bisexual or not, a lot of which came from how much ‘simpler’ my life would be if I was just straight, but I had worked this all out during my break from studies. The thought of telling family members about my identity became more and more present in my mind over the course returning to University and especially after coming out as trans. However, my experiences growing up highlighted the homophobia and likely transphobia I knew to exist in my family.
My family did eventually find out through social media channels, I could have been more careful about my privacy, but now being able to look back on this, I am glad for it. I’m doubtful whether I’d ever have worked up to telling them directly myself, and as much as they now are not in touch with me, I know I am not keeping secrets. If their decision is not to have me in their lives as my authentic self, I have made my peace with that.
After years, now, being part of the LGBTQ+ community at Cardiff, I have found a whole new family who have always been there for me, through all my doubts and emotional moments. The community is a ridiculously diverse group who can all be there for you in a multitude of ways. This is just a vague summation of my journey but I know from others, there is always someone who understands coming from a homophobic area, or a religious family or a strong cultural clash with LGBTQ+ identities.
So regardless of what I may be having a breakdown about on any given day, I probably have someone to call who understands, in most cases multiple people. The community also feels contagious, I still visit my home as I have friends from school who are still in touch and accept me for who I am, but I’ve also been fortunate enough to form other relations there and essentially form a de facto family at home too.
everyone's journey has to be their own, but you don't have to go through it alone
To anyone who is still exploring or doubtful of who they are, don’t feel rushed to figure it out at University but also don’t feel you need to do it alone. Members of our community want to be there for you. Join CU Pride, TANGGS and the LGBTQ+ Association, if you discover you’re straight and cis but a firm ally, you’re definitely still welcome.
Everyone’s journey has to be their own but I will always remember those who sat with me openly and honestly while I got angry, cried or just had a complete meltdown about who I was, and I am glad to not have gone through those alone.
Transitioning can take many different forms. You can transition, socially, medically, legally or by changing the language you use (or a combination of these), and please know that support is available at the University and the Students' Union to help you. Further information on the support options available can be found here.
If you are experiencing any form of unacceptable behaviour and/or hate incidents, there is help available. We strongly encourage you to seek support through the University's Disclosure Response Team.
Further information is also available from the following webpages:
Zachary Edge | He/Him | Third Year | School of Social Sciences