This week, Dannii Cohen answers the fears of a Uni student who has moved into a new home only to find that one of his flatmates is homophobic.
I’ve just moved to Manchester to start university and rather than stay at the halls of residence I’ve decided to share a house with some people from the course. I know one of the guys already, a good friend who’s straight, but the other two people are new to me.
I’d not yet had chance to come out to the household when one of the guys said something really homophobic, which upset me. Even more upsetting was my friend who knows me also said nothing. I’m not sure what to do as the guy is a lot bigger than I am and I’m not sure how he would take me telling him I’m gay. I don’t want to cause problems in the house as I have signed up for 12 months. What should I do?
Many thanks for helping,
Thank you for writing in.
Oh, what a horrible situation and difficult to find yourself in. Feeling unsafe in the place where you are supposed to unwind and study is terrible.
So let’s see what possibilities there are for you:
In your letter, you say you don’t want to cause trouble. The thing is: you have every right to speak out. You matter as much as any other person living in that household and deserve to be who you are without fear.
The first point of action should be your friend. Try to get him alone one evening, maybe for drinks, and discuss your feelings. Tell him you feel uncomfortable and what could be done.
This might seem like a very difficult thing to do, but you have to find out if your friend has your back. He either went along with the joke because he didn’t realise how you felt or he might be a different person with his other friends. You have to know this before you talk to anyone else in the house.
When you know this you can sort things out: If your friend has your back you can start talking to the others and get some other people on your side. If this works you might gradually feel better.
If your friend does not have your back or if talking to the group does not resolve anything talk to the teachers and counsellors at school. Maybe there is a place open somewhere else and they can help get you out of the twelve months you signed up to. These are circumstances beyond your control so there has to be a way for you to get out of your contract. No-one should be forced into a situation where they feel uncomfortable or unhappy every day.
If you are out to your family or other friends, maybe they can help you too. Talk to them about it.
Have you made new friends on campus who you think might understand, talk to them too? Even if you are sure they don’t know anything it is always good to talk. And who knows they might surprise you. Create your own network of support.
Remember, if you ever feel unsafe in the house for whatever reason: get out immediately. No point in waiting for something bad to happen.
Always with love,
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Dannii Cohen is a stand-up comedian (drag name Divine Varod) and comedy writer turned author, psychologist, professional counselor, life coach and self-help expert. Specialized in LGBT issues, anxiety, empowerment, children’s issues and bullying.
Published works include children’s books about childhood depression and the importance of being yourself (When Clouds Hide The Sun and Christopher the Lonely Bear) and an easy to use self help manual 50 Things To Know To Have A Better Life: Self-Improvement Made Easy.