College is an exciting time in your life. It is a time to learn, grow, make new friends, and have new experiences. LGBTQ students are becoming increasingly more visible on college campuses and are making positive contributions in all aspects of college life.
While societal norms are changing and bringing about more acceptance of sexual diversity, LGBTQ students still face many more pressures than do their peers at college. Typical college pressures (roommates, academics, finances) can be exacerbated by the stress of coming out, by the lack of experience in dating, being sexual, and achieving intimacy, as well as by the process of developing both an authentic gender and sexual identity. Many college students are in the early stages of coming out to themselves, and when they do come out, they may fear being rejected by those they love. Students who grew up in an unsupportive atmosphere may have internalized society's homophobic messages causing them to feel negatively about themselves and causing them to feel rejected. As a result of this, some students may experience anxiety, depression, and difficulty accepting who they are. This may create struggles with navigating the university experience, including interactions with heterosexual classmates. Although this coming out journey can be difficult, it can also be exciting and rewarding.
If you are going through any issues, including the aforementioned, you don't have to do it alone. You can reach out to supportive people and LGBTQ-friendly organizations. You may also find that counseling can be a positive experience in facing issues related to your LGBTQ identity by helping you develop new understanding, self-acceptance, and problem solving skills. All counselors at the EIU Counseling Center are Safe Zone trained and all students are welcome at the Center. Our staff are also active with LGBTQ committees and groups on campus. The Counseling Center’s Associate Director, Jackie Hines, serves on EIU's LGBTQ Advisory Committee and the Assistant Director, Corey Gifford, is the Counseling Center’s liaison to Pride.