The Badger has taken the time to create a student guide covering everything from fun and safe venues to queer media recommendations to aide new and returning LGBTQ+ students in enjoying uni and Brighton to the fullest.

Ladies, gentlemen and variations thereupon, welcome to the University of Sussex! We’re lucky enough to be based in Brighton, the UK’s LGBTQ+ capital, thus the city and University attracts many students with various queer, gender and sexual identities looking to have fun, be safe and belong within a community.

So, The Badger has taken the time to create a student guide covering everything from fun and safe venues to queer media recommendations to aide new and returning LGBTQ+ students in enjoying uni and Brighton to the fullest.

For many queer students, we’ve waited until university to fully come out and explore a side of ourselves that we kept hidden in our prior lives whether at school or at work. So, I’m here to help you unleash that previously hidden side, stay safe but most of all have fun.


How to get help and stay safe:

To begin, I must touch on looking after yourself and your health, both physical and mental. Living in the UK, our education doesn’t really touch upon anything LGBTQ+, especially in the context of sexual education. It is of utmost importance that you get tested, use protection (including PReP, various birth controls and, of course, condoms) and don’t let anyone make you uncomfortable.

At Sussex, there are many support systems you can get help including getting free condoms plus support and advice on all topics at the Student Life Centre. You can also visit the Rainbow Hub on St James’s Street which is a non-judgemental space for LGBTQ+ people to get guidance and information.

Sussex student volunteers also run the Good Night Owls society who patrol Brighton in the evenings on Wednesdays and Fridays ready to help anyone in trouble on a night out. Don’t be afraid or embarrassed to ask for help!

How to get involved and have fun:

I’ve had the chance to talk to many LGBTQ+ students to ask for advice and the resounding response was ‘Be Yourself’. To plenty of LGBTQ+ students, the phrase might appear impossible or even scary due to the inability to be yourself previously but I can vouch that both Brighton and Sussex are hugely progressive.

Everyone here is weird in their own way so being queer is really the last thing people will notice. Thus, you are bound to find your peers and make amazing friends who are both LGBTQ+ and not. A great way to start finding these friends is to explore the hundreds of societies that Sussex offers.

DragSoc provides award-winning performances monthly alongside more casual socials including tutorials, drag brunches and film screenings. Whilst, LGBTQ+ Soc arrange socials, club nights and even the Sussex students walking group in the Brighton Pride Parade. Find both at Freshers Fair!

You are absolutely not just limited to specific LGBTQ+ or queer adjacent societies to find queer peers or friends. Due to the wildly liberal status of Sussex campus, our societies are extremely welcoming with one queer student I spoke to citing Film Society as a particularly safe space that they’ve enjoyed.

Brighton is also full of queer and queer-friendly venues. Revenge Bar and Club are notorious for hosting some of the best LGBTQ+ event in Brighton from FOMO Thursdays to Lip Sync For Your Life competitions. Similarly, Polyglamorous is a montly themed queer dance party that is hosted above the Charles Street Tap. There’s also Gal Pals, a safe space created for mostly queer women and others folks of marginalised gender identities, that takes place regularly at Komedia.

LGBTQ+ media to enjoy:

Being involved with the LGBTQ+ community doesn’t have to be a social thing. So, I’ve compiled some recommendations for queer TV, films, music, books and more for you to enjoy from the safety of your own bedroom.


Nowadays, we’re lucky enough that queer representation is becoming more common on TV with mainstream shows like How To Get Away With Murder, Jessica Jones or Orange Is The New Black casually having many queer characters with their sexuality and gender identities not defining or entirely characterising them.

Then, of course, there are many shows where their LGBTQ+ identity is more at the forefront of celebration including RuPaul’s Drag Race (UK version starting October 3rd on BBC3), Sense8, Queer Eye, Cucumber/Banana/Tofu, Queer as Folk and Glow which are equally as enjoyable and worth watching.

Books & Film

Representation extends to books as well. With students recommending these to me: Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal, The Miseducation of Cameron Post, Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda and Call Me By Your Name – the last three have been adapted into hugely popular films.

Other worth-while queer films include Priscilla Queen of the Desert, Party Monster, Pride, Milk, Brokeback Mountain, Carol, Rent and, of course, Paris Is Burning.

lgbt films.jpg
LGBTQ+ TV & Film. L-R: Love, Simon, Rent, The Miseducation of Cameron Post, Sense8, Milk and Banana



Music nowadays is also heavily influenced and populated by LGBTQ+ artists with Lil Nas X being one of the most recent success stories as the only ever artist to come out as gay whilst charting at #1. With his first single, ‘Old Town Road’ breaking the record of longest ever consecutive #1 previously belonging to gay icon and ally Mariah Carey.

Other incredible mainstream queer artists that deserve your attention include Hayley Kiyoko, Demi Lovato, Kevin Abstract, Sia, Troye Sivan, MNEK, Lady Gaga, Kim Petras, Years and Years, SOPHIE, Frank Ocean, Janelle Monáe, Sam Smith and many more.

With woman of the moment, Lizzo, quoted in a Teen Vogue interview as saying “I personally don’t ascribe to just one thing […] That’s why the colours for LGBTQ+ are a rainbow!”

The Badger’s Pride Playlist (Listen here)

Born This Way – Lady Gaga

I’m Coming Out – Diana Ross

Valentino – Years & Years feat. MNEK

Feels Right – Carly Rae Jepsen feat. Electric Guest

Good As Hell – Lizzo

Make Me Feel – Janelle Monáe

Sissy That Walk – RuPaul

I Don’t Want It All – Kim Petras

Kiss – Prince

Girls Like Girls – Hayley Kiyoko

Lgbt – cupcakKe

Girls / Girls / Boys – Panic! At The Disco

Follow Your Arrow – Kacey Musgraves

Peach – Kevin Abstract

1 albums lgbt.jpg
Album art of LGBTQ+ and LGBTQ+ ally singers. Clockwise L-R: RuPaul, Sia, Kim Petras, Janelle Monáe, Lady Gaga, Hayley Kiyoko, Lizzo and MNEK.


Role models:

Are you looking to queer-ify your Instagram feed? Then look no further as I, with the help of some fellow Sussex students, recommend role models and influencers to follow online for daily inspiration.

Some accounts I personally follow include trans, deaf, genderqueer activist and actor Chella Man (@chellaman) who is due to play Jericho in DC’s Titans. I also adore and follow Laverne Cox (@lavernecox), gay actor Keiynan Lonsdale (@keiynanlonsdale) and, sexually fluid and deaf model Nyle DiMarco (@nyledimarco) – all three of which are hugely inspiring activists in our community. I’d also recommend following the founder of Fruitcake, Jamie Windust (@jamie_windust)

Whilst the students I spoke to recommended accounts spanning @adameli (co-founder of NYC based Voices 4), @jazzjennings_ (trans YouTuber), @alisonponthier (singer-songwriter), @pabllovittar (drag queen and singer) and @honeykiney (co-founder of The Pink Project).

At the end of the day, my biggest piece of advice to all LGBTQ+ students coming to Sussex for the first time or for those returning is that you must unleash yourself from the claustrophobic social shackles you’ve struggled with in the past and just try to enjoy your life to its fullest. Don’t let others bring you down. Own your identity through meeting queer peers or involving yourself in the LGBTQ+ community and be proud! You are loved and you are special so be yourself!


Big LGBTQ+ Names on Campus Give Advice

University of Sussex at Brighton & Hove Pride 2018 – Credit: Michelle Hui

Filip Vasilijevic, SU President:

What advice would you give? 

The advice I would give is as cliched as it sounds, the University is the time to fully embrace who you are and don’t be afraid to do so at Sussex. If you are worried that you might not be accepted by certain people then all I can say is that those people aren’t worth your time! Find people who will accept you.

If you’re unsure and don’t fully know who you are yet? That’s amazing as well! This is the perfect time to experiment and figure it all out! We have so many amazing societies and opportunities for you to get involved and see what you life, from DragSoc to Musical Theatre, there is definitely something for you!

How to get involved?

Best advice I can give is just try it out! If something catches your eye, don’t be afraid to go to the session or social. Remember, everyone here is in the same position, so even if you go to an event alone, chances are, so are the majority of the people there.

Plus there is always the Buddy Scheme, a great way for you to make a friend that is a current/returning student and you can be matched with someone with the same interests as you.

LGBTQ+ anthem?

Do I have to pick just one? Maybe ‘It’s Raining Men’ by The Weather Girls, then.


Atusa Jasmin, DragSoc President & performs as Prince of Persia:

What advice would you give? 

Don’t worry if you don’t find your people immediately, you’re going to meet so many different kinds of people and from my experience here at Sussex I have been so welcomed; by my straight housemates, course-mates and wonderful queer friends.

But, I would recommend attending LGBTQ+ events by the LGBTQ+ and Drag societies (amongst others!). When I was a fresher, I went to an LGBTQ+ picnic and made 2 friends that I am still so close to in third year!

How to get involved? 

Go to the events of the societies you like – that way you can get a taste of what it is about and if you enjoy it.

If there isn’t already a society for what you want to be a part of then you can just set up your own as long as you have 3 other people involved. You can even get funding from the SU if you register as a society.

Alternatively, you can get involved with the community through job opportunities on campus (student ambassador roles, bar staff etc) but I’d also suggest volunteering for different schemes on campus or in Brighton itself.

LGBTQ+ anthem?

I know this is predictable and I guess cheesy but I am a huge Gaga fan and I love everything she is about, so ‘Born This Way’ is my number 1 anthem for sure. I could go on about her for days!

Ray Everall, LGBTQ+ Society President:

What advice would you give?

I think the best general advice for anyone coming to University is to join a society. Through this you’re able to find others who share similar interests and it can help to make your first few weeks feel a lot less isolating.

I’d recommend exploring Brighton to find the best spots – there are a fair few hidden gems.

Some dad advice: if you’re going to be drinking then make sure you stay with friends and keep yourself safe. Although Brighton is known for its large LGBTQ+ population, its not entirely safe – especially not at night. Don’t let anyone pressure you into doing anything and figure out what your limits are.

How to get involved?

Educate yourself! You’ll meet a lot of different people at uni, and you might not be entirely familiar with everything you encounter. Little things like asking respectful questions and doing your own research can go along way to ensure that everyone is comfortable. I’d also recommend not just sticking to campus – there are a tonne of LGBTQ+ groups in Brighton, and it’s important to not just get stuck in the Uni bubble.

LGBTQ+ anthem?

Honestly, its ‘Boys’ by Lizzo at the moment.


Beattie, performs as drag comedian Lydia Eastslope:

What advice would you give?

Come to DragSoc! We have cheap nights that show you award-winning artists. We have comedy, lip syncs, dancing, singing, protests and love every first Wednesday of the month in Room 76.

How to get involved?

We’ll start with books because I’m an arts student and I love literature – I just read and loved Queer: A Graphic History, which traces the origins of queer theory and queer activisim in a really accessible and fun way – it’s set out like a graphic novel, its gorgeous. There are, also, classics like Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit or Martin Sherman’s Bent or I could recommend more modern stuff such as Jen Campbell’s short story collection The Beginning of the World in the Middle of the Night.

There are also some amazing, local queer events like Gal Pals, DragSoc or Chub Rub’s Bedroom Drag at the Bee’s Mouth on October 11. I’ve got too much to mention, please hire me for a column!

If you are unable to leave the house or attend social events for any reason, please don’t be afraid to DM me on Instagram @lydia_eastslope and I can provide lots of suggestions.

LGBTQ+ anthem?

I’m non binary so I reject having to make decisions by picking a favourite. Instead here’s several: ‘Finally’ by CeCe Peniston, ‘A Little Respect’ by Erasure, ‘Euphoria’ by Loreen, ‘Everywhere’ by Fleetwood Mac, ‘Make Your Own Kind of Music’ by Mamma Cass Elliot, ‘I Don’t Feel Like Dancin’’ by The Scissor Sisters and ‘Do You Hear The People Sing’ from Les Mis.


Header image credit: @chrisahjempics

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