Our social media ambassador Nils talks about his experience of moving to London as a member of the LGBTQIA+ community and joining London Met.
Date: 14 November 2019
My name is Nils and I self-define as homosexual. I came out at the age of 15 and visited a school at this time where I wasn’t quite accepted – I was even bullied – because of my sexuality. Sadly, some of my former teachers weren’t well educated about the topic of LGBTQIA+ and therefore didn’t step in to help. I think that part of the problem was that they were uncomfortable with my openness about the topic.
As I didn’t feel accepted because of my sexuality, I joined a LGBTQIA+ association shortly after coming out. The association advocated for the rights of the LGBTQIA+ community and fought for equality in the area that I lived in. They also held small yearly events that were considered part of the pride parades of northern Germany. Working together with such great and proud people of the LGBTQIA+ community really helped me to fully embrace my sexuality and also develop a sense of pride for it.
Unfortunately, the city I lived in was in what was generally quite a right oriented part of Germany, which was not the most accepting of the LGBTQIA+ community. Therefore, every now and then when I left the city I lived in I felt like I had to hide my sexuality just to stay safe from homophobic attacks of any kind.
Then, in September 2017, I came to London and I was able to live fully openly as a gay man. London is so diverse and the LGBTQIA+ community is very accepted here. However, when I decided that I wanted to start studying Social Work at London Met, I wasn’t sure if I could be open about my sexuality. This insecurity resulted from Germany not being very accepting towards LGBTQIA+ social workers while I was living in foster care from the age of 15 to 18.
Luckily, the University was fully accepting of my sexuality and I got accepted for the course. As the academic year started, I realised my fears were all for nothing. The teaching staff were well educated about the LGBTQIA+ spectrum and also very accepting and welcoming towards me.
The University also made a very big step towards equality with opening a LGBTQIA+ forum in the academic year 18/19. With this forum the University offered members of the LGBTQIA+ community a space where students who self-identified as part of the community could come together in a safe environment that allowed them to be themselves without having to fear any kind of judgment. I appreciated this forum a lot as it was nice to get together with like-minded people again. I also felt as though it mattered a lot to the University that even a minority like the LGBTQIA+ community was fully respected at this University.
In my second year, the student registers even gave students the chance to provide the lecturers with their preferred names. In my opinion, this is a huge step towards accepting trans, genderfluid or non-binary individuals. It gives those individuals the chance to avoid being referred to by their birth names, which might not represent their current person anymore.
All in all, I really feel like London Met has done a great job with providing an environment where I as a gay man feel accepted and comfortable.