Today, in honor of National Coming Out Day, we present to you this video of CISabroad rocking it out at the 2018 Pride Parade in Northampton, MA and a bunch of LGBTQIA+ study abroad resources. CISabroad is committed to ensuring access & inclusion to education abroad for ALL students, regardless of who they are and where they come from.
National Coming Out Day means a lot of things to a lot of different people. And, while there may be calls to end this yearly holiday to dispel the narrative that “coming out” is the most important thing in a queer person’s life, we think that LGBTQIA+ students should embark on their international programs with as much information as possible about what it might be like to be out (or not) in their destination country.
We recognize that going abroad as an LGBTQIA+ or gender nonconforming student brings an additional set of challenges and options to consider. That’s why for National Coming Out Day we’ve put together this master post of resources for LGBTQIA+ students looking to study or intern abroad.
SKIP TO WHAT YOU WANT TO KNOW
This is a master post (aka reeeeeeaaaally long) and we don’t want you to have to scroll all the way through. Utilize this handy outline to jump right to the LGBTQIA+ study abroad resources you’re interested in.
There are some questions you may want to ask yourself, and research to be done, before choosing a study abroad location. Being safe and comfortable is important to any study abroad adventure, and CISabroad wants to ensure both of those for our students. As a proud supporter of Generation Study Abroad, we have focused on LGBTQIA+ students in an effort to not only increase students’ knowledge about and access to education abroad, but to also better serve those students as Ally Advisors.
Some questions to ask yourself before studying abroad:
- How “out” do I want to be to my host family or roommates?
- Is it important for me to participate in LGBTQIA+ activities and events while abroad?
- Is discussing my sexual orientation or gender identity something that is important to me?
- What are the social attitudes towards being LGBTQIA+ in my host country?
- Are there resources for LGBTQIA+ students in my host country or at my place of study?
- Are there any LGBTQIA+ groups or LGBTQIA+-friendly establishments in my area?
- Are sexual orientation and gender identity openly discussed and accepted, or more taboo in my host country?
- Will I be staying with a host family or roommates who will be accepting of me if I choose to come out?
- Are there safety and legal issues for LGBTQIA+ individuals in this area?
If you need help figuring out where to go based on your answers to these questions, check out the list of LGBTQIA+ friendly countries below, or feel free to ask our friendly staff in the Global Advising Center for their advice.
If you’ve already applied for your program and want to talk about how we can support you when you go abroad, your program coordinator is a good resource to reach out to.
LGBTQIA+ Friendly Countries Project
In 2016, we sent an in-depth survey to our program partners, and combined with positive feedback from students, the following have made the list. We acknowledge that not everyone will have the same experience in every location, but research and expectations are key. Find out more info (like prices, dates, and application deadlines) on each of these programs at www.cisabroad.com.
- Semester in Sydney – Macquarie University
- Semester in South Africa – Stellenbosch University
- Semester in Sydney – University of Sydney
- Semester in Hawai’i – Hawai’i Pacific University
- Semester in Limerick – University of Limerick
- Semester in Edinburgh – Edinburgh Napier University
- Semester in New Zealand – North Island – Victoria University of Wellington
- Semester in Newcastle – University of Newcastle
- Semester in London – University of Westminster
Your safety is our first concern when you’re abroad. No matter where you study or intern with CISabroad you’ll have an on-site staff member dedicated to supporting you during your time abroad. That said, it is always good to be prepared with knowledge about how your identities could affect your experience in your host country. Check out these resources below for more info specific to your identities.
- The Department of State’s US Passports and International Travel Department has LGBT Travel Information for LGBT individuals going abroad
- The National Center for Transgender Equality provides air travel and airport security tips for transgender individuals who often times face difficulty and discrimination while traveling
- International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commissions offers country-specific information and news
- The International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) offers Lesbian and Gay Rights Maps that detail legal climate
- Featured on AIG’s LGBTQ Travel Safety website, Man About World has a LGBTQ Travel Safety Guide designed to help LGBTQ travelers navigate the complexity of traveling with some of these identities, including some that are specific to lesbians, gay men and/or transgender and non-binary travelers
We did a survey of our LGBTQIA+ identified students in 2016 to ask them if they had any advice for LGBTQIA+ students looking to study or intern abroad. Here is some of their advice:
“Fortunately my identity did not impact my experience abroad, despite Ecuador having a notoriously negative view on homosexuality. For the month that I was abroad, I simply “re-closeted” myself, and only revealed my sexuality to those I trusted. As unfortunate as that may sound, it seemed necessary at the time and was probably the safest option when traveling to a new place. Because of this, I was not treated any differently in the country. To future students, I would recommend doing your research about the country you want to visit. And remember, even when traveling to an LGBT friendly place such at Canada or the U.S., always value safety above all else.”
– Carson P., Intern in Ecuador
“I identify as a gay/bisexual woman, and I studied in Reutlingen, Germany from January to May. It didn’t impact it at all really, I feel very comfortable with who I am and my friends and family support me, so I’ve been very fortunate that I haven’t run into any problems. I had such an amazing time abroad, and I would strongly encourage anybody who’s interested, to definitely spend some time abroad, you may discover something else about yourself!”
– Anonymous, Semester in Germany – Business, Engineering, & Culture at the University of Reutlingen
“I went abroad to Italy. It was perhaps the best experience of my life. The people were incredibly friendly and kind there. I learned a lot and traveled a lot, and made so many new friends. However, I never came out and told anyone that I am gay. I hid that fact from everyone there. I did not want to be judged based upon my sexual orientation. Also from what I learned in the first few weeks was that Italians were not the most accepting of being gay. I mean they were not outwardly hostile or prejudice toward people who were gay or lesbian. They had more of an attitude of if you are fine that is okay, just keep it to yourself and don’t show it around us. It is a little hard to describe how I felt about it or how it impacted me as I kept this to myself. Perhaps I was a little afraid that if I did come out abroad then I would have been alienated by some in the community and those in the abroad group as well. I just went about my days like I always would and lived life to the fullest while there.”
– Anonymous, Semester in Italy
London & Scotland
“I am a young bisexual woman who has been out to my friends and family for a couple of years now. Right at the end of my stay in London, America legalized gay marriage throughout the country. I was ecstatic and so were my new friends. We decided to all go out to the pub that night to celebrate the incredible news. I found London to be a pretty safe space for LGBT+ people, and I observed signs of support for my community through the city. London let me be proud of who I am, and supported me as I celebrated the amazing changes taking place in America.”
– Jennifer W., Summer in London
“Being in London for four months was great because I wasn’t just getting a small taste of gay life in London. I lived it the entire time I was there and loved every second. Being in such an accepting atmosphere helped me to realize that I’m more than some gay athlete (yeah, I play sports at college and that’s not always so accepted as we know). In general, it was such a great experience because if anything else it made me even prouder to be gay. Every last second was perfect to me and my sexual orientation did nothing to cause problems.”
– Nick M., Summer in London
“The summer I went to London, I came to terms with the fact that I was pansexual, not bisexual. That same summer, I went to my first pride parade in London. It was the typical rainy day and all the rainbow confetti and glitter was sticking to everything! I’ve never felt happier or more accepted. It was life-changing to attend such an incredible event after I had just come to better understand my own sexuality.”
– Sally S., Summer in London
“In London, my identity as a gay man did not affect how people treated me. Being Mexican-American definitely had an effect, but not being gay. It was surprising for me personally, being in a space where I did not fear being/coming out. It has helped me in being me. London is such an open city. Yes there is the rare homophobic slur, but it literally only happened once, The rest of the time people simply didn’t care. For future students I would say, do research on the country that you are going to. Find out how it treats its own LGBTQIA+ citizens. You will have to live in that space as either out or not. But it will help knowing what to expect in before going.”
– David O., Intern in London
“Advice to future LGBTQ+ students: If you’re out and going abroad and are shy to tell people like I usually am or if you’re not out but think abroad you want to be (I know a few people who came out abroad) I say just do you. Don’t be afraid to be yourself.”
– Marissa B., Semester in London – University of Roehampton
“I identify as queer, and I went to Edinburgh with CISabroad. Everyone I met was very open and accepting, and most of the girls on both my football and rugby teams were out and proud lesbians. My decision to go the UK was based on that it was an English speaking country and that it was (relatively) liberal compared to the other countries I was looking at, such as Italy and Cuba. If you identify as a girl, I especially advise you to join a rugby team since girls’ rugby seems to attract a lot of queer people. I do wish that before I had gone abroad that someone had told me that the UK is NOT as conservative as I originally thought.”
– Anonymous, Semester in Edinburgh
“I went to Madrid, and I had no idea it was such a gay-friendly city. I wish I had known sooner I would have done a whole year rather than just a semester.”
– Anonymous, Semester in Madrid – Universidad Antonio de Nebrija
- One of the missions of the Association of International Educators’ Rainbow special interest group is to provide resources for students studying abroad who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer (LGBTQ+).
- The Diversity Abroad community inspires, connects, and assists you in reaching your academic and career potential in our increasingly interconnected world. Plus they have an AMAZING set of guides to help you leverage your intersectional set identities to get the most out of your time abroad.
- Equaldex is a community-built database of laws affecting LGBTQIA+ individuals around the world.