Cambridge may be the country’s gayest uni, but it’s still not easy

The wider world is a hard place

| UPDATED Cambridge discrimination glitterbomb LGBT Life

Cambridge is, according to The Tab, the gayest University in the country, with 19% of students identifying as non-heterosexual, which, when compared to the national statistics, where 1.5% identify as such, is quite overwhelming.

Perhaps it is because of this embracing of homosexuality that ensures that the town is a very safe place for gay people to express themselves. The place in which we live (referring to the United Kingdom) is generally sheltered; the majority (approximately 80%, according to surveys) support the gay community and believe that they are not immoral or sinful. You can watch television now, and there’s gay people! You can get invited to a gay wedding! You can sometimes come out and sometimes have positive experiences!

Several colleges flew the LGBT+ flag in February

However, despite the world in which we live progressing in its views towards homosexuality, and it becoming more normalised, it is important that people don’t disregard the fact that the day to day lives of gay individuals are sometimes difficult. The 20% still lurk and homophobia still exists, and it isn’t in your face and it isn’t people screaming dyke or faggot at you; it is subtle and complex, and that makes it all the more disturbing sometimes – you can never quite place a pin in the map.

Violence isn’t even that infrequent. It happens in playgrounds, on high streets. One in six experiences it. However, as we are taught as primary school children, sometimes we don’t need to sticks and stones to scar us. We are made to feel different from the start. We are not spoken about in sex education. Parents with children in streets smile uncomfortably if you’re holding hands. It is now hard for them; children naturally enquire and they now have to now explain to their child that not everybody fits into mummy and daddy’s set up home formula.

Not always the case

Sometimes, you feel embarrassed by this; as if you’re dirty and putting somebody off their dinner. It’s being made to feel strange, alien. It’s being made to feel like you are a complexity in their life that they have to deal with. Some people can be completely fine with one ‘breed’ of homosexuality, but not the other. Gay men? Fine. Gay women? Nah. I have never quite understood where this bizarre attitude stems from, but ultimately it boils down to the belief that one sect of homosexuals are different and acceptable, whilst another isn’t. One group may be promiscuous, or one group may be people going through silly phases. In Suburbia, it still very much exists.

People are perfectly happy when Ellen DeGeneres marries her wife; people are happy when Tom Daley tells everyone he isn’t straight, but as soon as it’s their child – it is different. Never ending questions as to if you’re going to have children, how gay you are. It still remains a disappointment. Sometimes, it can destroy relationships; sometimes, it can lead to larger problems. 40% of homeless youth are LGBT identifying, and they didn’t all come from nothing – some will have been loved and adored till they were no longer ‘normal’.

Why is one okay and not the other?

Sometimes there are complications within the communities that I feel I belong to. Glitterbomb, an LGBT+ night at Kuda, is the University’s only gay night, and, despite it being fun and well intentioned, it still is flawed in that it ultimately appeals to a male audience. There are sometimes barriers created within the community, where some are made to feel inferior for their sexual denomination.

Furthermore, I identify as a feminist, but I also sometimes struggle with feminist communities that ignore intersectionality, or worse, claim to embrace it, whilst equating their troubles to that of the gay community. The struggles of being a woman are very different to that of being gay, but also, I would argue, in the world in which I inhabit, I just do not face the same level of discrimination for being a woman as I do for being non-straight. I feel like this is something that needs to be tackled, but I have no answers as to how to, and I don’t expect anyone else to either.

Being in Cambridge can make us forget that, for some, the struggle is still very much in our faces. Coming out here is like telling people what subject you study, but it can be the most terrifying thing you’ll ever have to do elsewhere: it shouldn’t be, and many people will say it doesn’t matter, but it does. There is still problems within ethnic minority groups towards gay individuals too – being a gay muslim is a lot harder than being a white one.

There are so many layers that can sometimes be erased and forgotten. I want it to be thought about, I want it to be remembered.