It is often a challenge for gay students of female gender, or of any gender, to navigate through all the advice columns on the internet. However, this guide is brief and covers three categories – with one recommendation for each category: having a night out, dating, and finding support if needed.
1. Going out
Well, if you weren’t lucky enough to pick up a copy of The Print, you would have probably gone to Ku Bar only to see yourself surrounded by persistent men, most of whom are heterosexual tourists. Do yourself a favour and stay away from the whole G-A-Y scene, will you? If you’re a classy individual who’s been in the library all day, reading Darwin’s Origin of Species for breakfast and Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway for lunch, I’m sure you need to sit somewhere with ambience and far from the madding crowd, somewhere you can sip at your Raspberry Cosmo without being harassed by irritatingly loud music. If so, then SHE SOHO is for you. Located at 23a Old Compton St, it’s a safe place to sit down and unwind or socialise. Quick tip: try going there on your own in order to enjoy not being bothered by anyone and fully de-stress, or, if you’re interested in socialising, go there with a friend, as you’ll find out most clients of this classy bar are sitting in pairs (so it’s not a dating scene). The music is just loud enough to splash a bit of life on the underground bunker-style walls, and you can actually talk and listen to the other person. And if thou hast decided to get devastatingly blotto, Friday and Saturday nights after 10pm, for only £4 or so, the DJ plays the most vivacious, utterly marvellous records for a rather polite crowd.
Class and dating rarely go together in this butler-less age. But if I had to recommend a dating app, it would be FEM. I dated five individuals from this app last year and it felt like I was jumping out the frying pan and onto a wok, then to an oven (the middle section), then on the back of my phone when it’s charging, and then to those thingies that they use in Ground Café to press and cook the paninis. They were disastrous! But what matters is that I actually went on many dates with actual people. The app isn’t fully free, but fret not! Give it a week and you’ll be matched with someone. You can send ‘Hi’ to people for five coins, and considering you earn fifty coins each day, it shouldn’t be a problem. There are also chatrooms and I found the Local one very helpful, as you can just let people around you know that you exist by just saying ‘hi’. I wouldn’t waste my time in chat rooms though. There are quite a lot of people with various interests, especially couples looking for ‘playdates’. Word of advice: just turn the offer down politely if you are not into this sort of thing. Unfortunately, there are glitches in the system and sometimes you can see messages from individuals who are male. The app is altogether very unstable. Oh, and then there are fake accounts and fraudsters. And did I mention the ads? Nonetheless, FEM is the best of a bad bunch and worth a cursory look.
Now on a serious note, if you are feeling down, anxious, lonely, lost, confused, or are dealing with distressing issues, my advice is that you, first and foremost, talk to your tutors, and if it’s overwhelming and urgent, to your GP. Meanwhile, I would strongly recommend you have a look at these two websites (https://counselling-directory.org.uk and https://www.psychotherapy.org.uk/find-a-therapist) and find yourself a lovely therapist. You can find all sorts of methods of psychotherapy, from Freud to Jung to CBT and Art Therapy. The fees are between £40-70 per 50-minute session and many of them offer concessions for students for as cheap as £15-30 per session. I cannot emphasise enough how life-enhancing having a therapist can be (plus, you can say my therapist, like my maid and my accountant). In addition, there are LGBT+ support groups run by each Council in London. I have used Camden LGBT Forum in the past and the confidential and compassionate service they provide is exceptional. At the cost of sounding like your parent, I have to tell you this with genuine care: if you feel unwell, ill-at-ease, anxious, depressed, lonely, etc, even if you don’t know what is causing it, just reach out to support groups. We are all paying tax so you are looked after. Spend your money on your health, my child.