People within the LGBTQ community face many challenges every day. One challenge that many LGBTQ people face is with dating. It can be extremely difficult for someone who is transgender or homosexual to find someone that they not only have a connection with but who is also LGBTQ.
For some people, dating in high school was easier for them than in college because of schedules, but for most, college dating has been easier because of people being more open-minded and being more willing to explore their sexualities.
Senior architecture engineering technology major Scott McMullan preferred not to date in high school because he saw all of the bullying and drama that came along with it. He prefers dating in college because people in college usually do not care what another person does with their life.
“We are all old enough that you can be who you are without major discrimination. There are more people that are out and open about who they are,” McMullan said.
High school dating can have benefits such as close proximity and class schedules, but there tend to be more judgmental people and a smaller group of LGBTQ students.
Senior media production major Jade Macoy* said high school was difficult for her because she went to a private Christian school where being gay was so frowned upon by peers that it was used as an insult.
“It’s kind of hard to openly date in an environment like that,” Macoy said.
LGBTQ students who receive this type of response usually won’t come out or openly date until college out of fear.
Macoy said although dating in college is easier, she still faces the unknown.
“It’s interesting being gay on a college campus in the South,” Macoy said. “You never really know how people feel and where they lie when it comes to gay people.”
College dating can be easier for a lot of people because they feel that they have more freedom to be themselves being away from their parents and high school community.
Southern Miss offers a resource office called Prism where students of any gender or sexual identity can visit to get advice on life and find resources for school, counseling and more.
Hattiesburg also has the Spectrum Center, which is a resource center for LGBTQ people. The center provides counseling, a community kitchen and pantry and emergency housing for LGBTQ youth. These options are available to LGBTQ students, but their help can only go so far.
Senior English licensure major Jaq Jefcoat found that the resources Southern Miss has are helpful and beneficial, but they aren’t much help when it comes to dating and relationships.
“There isn’t much help because ultimately it’s our own journey we have to navigate in life,” Jefcoat said.
*Name has been changed for anonymity.