Going nowhere and homophobia: what small town life is like when you’re gay

‘It’s always charming to have “fucking faggot” shouted at you’

What happens to LGBTQI students when they go from living it up in the city to a dead end town with no scene whatsoever?

Returning home for summer can be great: home cooked meals, catching up with friends, even admiring the grotty local landmarks you claim to hate but secretly love.

But Grantham, recently voted the worst hometown in the country by Tab readers, doesn’t have much to offer. While others await their trains or buses back to London, Leeds or York, Grantham natives feel nothing but a sinking heart when they realise they’re required to leave the safe confines of the station.

Glamorous Grantham

Unfortunately, for LGBTQI students returning home to places like Grantham, this sinking feeling is doubled, then trebled, then quadrupled.

Rumour has it that Grantham was once host of a regular gay night. Now with a handful of night clubs that all solely promote M-Kat and lad culture, it’s no wonder that a gay night seems that it could never have happened here.

“Mom, does this shirt make me look gay?”

It’s scary stepping foot inside a club where you can feel angry eyes staring at you, all just because your sexuality doesn’t conform to a community so wrapped up in heteronormativity.

God forbid you and a gay friend be seen dancing together, and expect all hell to break loose should one of you pull. You know, because it was Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve…

A picture of excitement

With a nightlife as tragic as this, you can only imagine what everyday life is like for the LGBTQI. Hook up apps like Grindr are pretty much the only way of meeting new people around here, and it’s always frustrating when you log on to find the same twenty people within a local distance.

What’s even more annoying is the fact that everyone wants different things: you’re slut shamed for being honest about wanting sex, yet you’re classed as frigid if you’re just looking for friends. More importantly, the internalised homophobia on Grindr – “No fems, queens or camps” – is painful to witness, especially when we’re all in the same complicated boat.

But this doesn’t begin to compare to the homophobia received from “heterosexual” onlookers when you’re walking down the street.

“Coming from Broadstairs in Kent, I travel 30 minutes on the train to my nearest gay bar and have a great time there but it’s not very often,” says Cameron Smith, a Marketing student at Lincoln.

“Coming from a Conservative constituency, I’ve not experienced any homophobia around my area but I think that’s because it’s not an area that takes a large interest in LGBT relations.”

Cameron’s on the left

In Grantham, the issue with homophobia is on a totally different scale to that of Broadstairs. It’s always charming to have someone roll down their car window and shout “fucking faggot” at you, or to have someone look you up and down in the street as you walk (sorry, “mince”) with a gay friend from A to B.

The most frightening case to date focused on a group of drunk louts who started name calling and throwing unopened cans of beer at me… Still, through all of this, you grow stronger as a person and it makes your uni city all the more loveable and close to your heart.

Phil and I striking a pose at The Scene, Lincoln

Phil Yeo, a Media Production student from Billericay, Essex, discusses how difficult it is to be on the gay scene in his local area:

“Out of 5 surrounding towns of varying sizes, there’s one gay bar. I’ve never been there and I’ve never met anyone who has. It’s common knowledge that being seen there makes you fair game for an attack or stabbing.”

The train back to Lincoln doesn’t go fast enough

Lincoln’s LGBTQI community is considerably smaller than those in other cities, but our University’s LGBT+ liberation group is brilliant: our meetings and socials are notorious affairs and everyone within the group are so caring for one another. They say that you make friends for life at university, at the LGBT+ liberation group, the statement really does become true.

“I’m from Aberconwy in North Wales and as lovely as it is, there’s no LGBT community or even diversity,” says Film and Television student Anna Richards. “As I have progressed through my first year, I have embraced the LGBT+ society and the gay scene. It’s been wonderful. I remember my first Pride at Lincoln and I was overwhelmed by all of it.”