Welcome to Cambridge: the basics

(image: the current CUSU LGBT+ committee)


Hi everyone – I’m Michael (he/him) and I’m the editor of get real., the magazine of CUSU LGBT+. Welcome to the site, and for all of those new to Cambridge, welcome to the university! The start of a new year is always and exciting and overwhelming time, but luckily there are loads of people and resources to help you on your way.

First of all, CUSU LGBT+ has a website full of information and resources that can help you if you have questions about the basics of LGBT+ life in Cambridge. There’s also an anonymous contact form for welfare concerns, and info about how to contact any member of the committee.

Everyone on the committee is here to help queer students like ourselves navigate their way through their time in Cambridge, so don’t hesitate to get in touch if you need advice or have issues to raise.

In addition, the Disabled Students Officer, Florence Oulds (also a get real. contributor) has put together an extremely useful guidebook to Cambridge. In Florence’s words: “The guide was written with disabled students in mind, but gives thorough and readable explanations of key Cambridge concepts and practices that can be useful to all students, including those who aren’t freshers.”

Secondly, we have two active Facebook groups, both public and private, which are constantly kept up to date with news and events organised both by the committee and other people around town. You can go there to see our Michaelmas termcard, or pick a copy at the Freshers’ Fair.

To give you a flavour of the kind of work we do, I’ve collected a little more info from three of our committee members, so hopefully you’ll have a better idea of what to expect. These go into a little more in detail than the profiles you can find on our Facebook page. In a few days, I’ll be posting more perspectives from other students on the practicalities and experiences of queer life in Cambridge.

Cait Findlay (she/her), CUSU LGBT+ Women’s Officer
Hi! My role is to represent self-identifying LGBT+ women and non-binary people across the University, and so if you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please feel free to direct them to me and I will do my best to help you out. I also run events to foster a sense of community, starting with a weekly discussion group in the CUSU lounge every Thursday of term. There’s also a collaboration with WomCam on a spoken word/music night in the pipeline – more details to come soon. There’s always the chance for some pub trips or pre drinks throughout term, so keep an eye out as these get publicised on Facebook in advance. I really hope you enjoy your time at Cambridge as LGBT+ women and non-binary people – let’s make it as gay as possible!

Devarshi Lodhia (he/him), CUSU LGBT+ Welfare Officer
I know that for a lot of people Cambridge can be a daunting prospect. Whether you’re worried about leaving home for the first time, the workload, or making new friends. For LGBT+ students there can be even more to think about – you might be questioning your sexual orientation or gender identity, you might be concerned how welcoming Cambridge is as a place, or simply wondering what LGBT+ nightlife in Cambridge is like.

As CUSU LGBT+’s Welfare Officer I just want to reassure you and let you know that Cambridge is for you. I won’t lie and claim it’s perfect, because it’s not but you’ll be able to meet a diverse range of people from all backgrounds, sexualities, and genders with different perspectives and life experiences. There is a great support network in place and all colleges have LGBT+ Officers and Welfare Officers who will be your first point of call should you have any problems or if you just want someone to talk to.

In the meantime please contact me if you’ve got any questions at: lgbt-welfare@cusu.cam.ac.uk

Ali Hyde (he/him), CUSU LGBT+ Trans Rep
I have loved being a part of the trans, and wider LGBT+, community in my time at Cambridge so far. I would really recommend attending both college LGBT+ and CUSU LGBT+ events. Your JCR LGBT+ officer can be a great help as you get to know people and getting involved in CUSU LGBT+ will help you meet people from other colleges. There are specific events for trans people as well: for example, I run a weekly two-hour coffee meet. Attendees range from first years to those finishing their PhDs so they’re a great place to meet people from a wide range of parts of the Cambridge bubble. It’s also just a great opportunity to take a break from work over a Sunday lunchtime and socialise outside college! There will hopefully be some discussion groups later in term with reference to trans issues and I always want people to suggest different and new events that they would like to see put on.

If you want any advice regarding trans issues, the CUSU LGBT+ website has a recently updated Trans Resources section with articles tailored to Cambridge students. I’m always happy to answer any questions over Facebook or email and help source relevant advice. There are plenty of places to find support and solidarity in, and I would emphasise how useful these resources can be in an unfamiliar environment where so much of your energy will be taken up by work and college life.

Enjoy starting your Cambridge experience and I hope to see you at some point in Michaelmas!


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