When it comes to the LGBTQI+ community, coming out stories is rarely a warm and comfortable experience for people.
Although my own coming out was not traumatic, there were elements of discomfort and anxiety, particularly to the family I was surrounded by. I was blessed with my parents being as understanding as they could be, including my extended family who were welcoming. However, as considerate as they all were, there was always the feeling of difference. This was never once the fault of my parents or my siblings, not even distant aunts and uncles. Being surrounded by family that were all partnered with the opposite sex and with children always pulled a string in my chest. Not to mention, growing up in a small central western town of four hundred and something people – it wasn’t a great support either. I needed a change of scenery.
Being the stereotypical country town girl, I yearned for a break in the “big city”. Then, I was accepted into La Trobe University – Albury Wodonga campus. A quick google search of the population – around 106,000 people – that was big enough for me. I packed up my belongings and started my arts degree in Semester 2 of 2017. The initial move was obviously a struggle; never leaving home before as well as the weight of “what if people won’t accept me” mentality; it was going to be tough for anybody. However, I soon discovered that the big smoke wasn’t that big, I found the kinship that came with living on campus and eventually, I found my new family. Living with other residents, I discovered that there was no need to come out. No discussion was ever required.
As I walked through campus I noticed advertising for the Sexual Diversity Ball, various signs for gender neutral bathrooms, and no matter who I chose to be I felt that I was accepted regardless. There is a strong community here that are supportive and welcoming no matter your identity. I was embraced fully into this new family in a place that I am happy to call home.
Words by Sarah Cohen.