I had written a blog earlier this year about the Trevor Project, It Gets Better, and all of the recent gay youth suicides.
In it, I talked briefly about my own coming out experience, how I had it relatively easy and did so because of the support of friends, family and fellow classmates. And all of that was true. Growing up in DC, I had a wonderful environment in which to come out, grow and develop a sense of self that was rooted in a security in my own sexual orientation. In DC, I participated in the Gay Pride festivities whenever possible, the Gay Youth Pride festivities and tried to be involved in local agencies as well as local chapters of national agencies and organizations.
One such agency was SMYAL, the Sexual Youth Minority Youth Assistance League. And of course, being DC, the local chapters of GLAAD, GLSEN, PFLAG, HRC and Stonewall were very active. I was a happy gay. (redundancy intended.)
When I was looking at prospective schools to attend for undergrad, I did my research on their gay culture and social environment, as well as the programs that each school had for LGBTA (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Allied) students. I was very surprised when looking at OSU that not only was there a very vibrant, active and inviting gay culture here in the city, but it was represented at the university as well.
Columbus actually has one of the densest LGBTA/capita populations in the country. The HRC organization here is incredibly zealous and has done wonders working with local industry to make sure that the LGBTA population is properly represented and protected, as well as helping many of these local industries score perfect 100′s on their Corporate Equality Index.
If you’ve ever been to Short North, you know that it is a bustling area for the LGBTA community with a variety of business, restaurants, clubs and bars that cater specifically to our segment of society. The Columbus AIDS Task Force is tireless in their efforts to educate everyone in the prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS. Stonewall Columbus holds many wonderful charity events that raise great amounts of money for a great many of great LGBTA-related causes.
Honestly, I had no idea what to expect from the Columbus “scene” before moving here, despite all of my research. I was happy to find that the “scene” here is incredibly varied and diverse, just like the OSU population that it reflects. If you have a particular type of club you like to go to, cause you like to champion, or scene (hipster, twink, other) that you prefer to hang out in, you can find it here in Columbus.
Within the university, there are a wide array of programs and organizations to serve the gay community and its allies. Specific to the Fisher College of Business, there is OutInBusiness, a group for LGBTA students, as well GradQueers, an organization for the LGBTA graduate student body across all disciplines.
Even though I felt I had reached a level of maturity regarding my sexuality previously while back home in DC, coming to Columbus was like a renaissance. The gay community is just as friendly and warm and open as the people of Columbus as a whole. I had an opportunity to interact with other LGBTA students that were in various stages of their coming out process and learn from them and share with them what I had already learned. It surprised me that I was able to continue to grow, and continue to do so now.
If you are an LGBTA student considering the university and the program, I highly recommend coming here. Columbus is a safe space where you can learn much about yourself and come out safely.