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Whether the closet is nothing but a distant, dusty memory, or whether you’re only now embracing who you really are, throwing yourself into college or university life is the perfect opportunity to celebrate and explore your LGBT+ identity.

And when you happen to be doing so in a country ranked by the Rainbow Europe Index as the best country for LGBT+ equality in 2015, you could not be in better hands. So brace yourself and welcome to the club! SNACK is here to become your best Judy and guide you through life as an LGBTQ+ fresher (unofficial homework: create a fact file on Judy Garland. It will help contextualise our last reference).

COMING CLEAN

At this exciting time, when your mind should be preoccupied with crucial matters such as learning to boil instant ramen and navigating your way through the perfect hangover cure, you may be considering coming out of the closet. Don’t get me wrong: coming out is no easy thing, even for the proudest among us. But it is normal to feel anxious, and crucial to be realistic in preparing for whatever outcome coming out can have (if you live at home, for example, set up a plan B sleepover with a friend in case the folks need some space). The most important thing to remember is that there is no right time to come out: only you can and should decide that. Nor is there a tried and tested method. Perhaps doing so with a close friend first will ease you in, before broadening the circle and so on. Disclaimer: you will spend your entire life coming out to people. You will learn, however, that doing so becomes your favourite thing to do. For further tips and support on coming out, head to Stonewall Scotland to find a superb range of resources.

And this may be your first time frequenting the Rainbow Set: not all of us grew up in big cities with vibrant gay scenes, after all, and the prospect of jumping in at the deep end can feel daunting. Venture out to bars and clubs in a crowd of friends to ease yourself in, and be confident! You may well find your chosen family.

PUTTING THE CAMP IN CAMPUS

The freedom of life as a student and exploring your sexuality can be overwhelming for even the boldest among us. Thankfully, most universities and colleges offer excellent support services for LGBT+ students, and societies around campus can make your uni experience even better. Within Glasgow alone, each university has a distinctly gay-friendly society. The University of Glasgow, for example, is a celebrated Stonewall Scotland Diversity Champion and boasts several bodies around campus that support and celebrate LGBT+ students and staff. GULGBTQ+ is one of the largest societies on campus and are proactive in promoting inclusivity on campus. Aside from putting on amazing events and running campaigns throughout the year, GULGBTQ+ was shortlisted as Student Group of the Year at the first annual LGBT Scotland Awards in 2015. Strathclyde also boasts a great LGBT+ society which runs different events throughout the year including social evenings, film screenings, political campaigns and trips to local LGBT friendly venues. Events are also organised specifically to coincide with LGBT History Month. Strathclyde’s LGBT+ Union is an excellent platform to socialise, become active in political activism, and get your Harvey Milk on!

Each university and college throughout the country is likely to have groups that cater distinctly to LGBT+ students. Edinburgh University also has its own award-nominated society, BLOGS, as does St Andrews University, which boasts a strong sense of community and throws their amazing Glitterball. Other universities in Edinburgh, like Heriot Watt, Napier and Queen Margaret, also have LGBT+ societies welcoming people of all identities. Getting involved with groups like these is a great way to meet other LGBT+ people on campus, and you may find your time spent with like-minded people becomes the most worthwhile of your student experience. And besides, who throws a better party than gays? Be sure to look into LGBT+ friendly sports clubs like Frontrunners, an inclusive running group, to keep your health tip top and meet new people.

LGBT+NIGHTLIFE

In Glasgow, Merchant City boasts the lion’s share of LGBT+ friendly spaces. Delmonica’s, for one, has been entertaining the masses since 1991 with karaoke, visiting DJs and quiz nights on a Thursday night. However, Wednesday night brings you Suck!, an exuberant showcase of some of the city’s finest drag queens. Your first voyage into Glasgow’s gay nightlife will most likely take you to Polo – the home of cheesy pop, cheap drinks and mournful mornings after – but with venues like Katie’s, Speakeasy and AXM, you are well and truly spoiled for choice. And to soothe the pain of seeing not a single Scottish queen on Drag Race UK, I implore you to explore Glasgow’s drag scene: we have an army of fierce, funny and diverse drag kings and queens all over the city, so give them your money and become their biggest fans, already! For an alternative to these venues, The Flying Duck hosts a lot of diverse club nights that offer something a little different. Their events are always inclusive and they offer a safe space policy, so everyone can boogie with ease, and gender neutral toilets. It’s also a lovely pub – with a Sega Mega Drive – and they happen to be one of the city’s finest vegan establishments, too.

Our nation’s capital, of course, boasts a vibrant gay scene. Edinburgh’s “Pink Triangle,” centred around the top of Leith Walk just off Princes Street, brings you the city’s best gay bars and clubs within walking distance. CC Blooms is the city’s biggest and brightest and something of an institution. It doubles up as a restaurant during the day and a wild club at night. But don’t overlook the likes of the Regent Bar, Planet Bar, which is the city’s longest- running gay bar, and Victoria Bar. Café Nom de Plume also happens to be Edinburgh’s LGBT Centre.

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