If you are a LGBT student, you need to understand that coming out while you are abroad has implications and can affect your experiences. Some countries and cultures are open and accepting of LGBT people, but in other places you may encounter stares or even hostility.
Depending on where you go, openly displaying affection for your same-sex partner may put your physical safety at risk. If you will be living with a home stay, discuss with your study abroad advisor or program director whether or not you should come out to your host family.
Before you go abroad, find out what kinds of legal rights LGBT persons have in your host country. For example, in some countries, homosexuality is illegal. You’ll also want to research what kinds of behavior are appropriate for friendship and dating. Two people of the same gender kissing or holding hands often has a different meaning abroad than it does in the U.S.
No matter where you go, you will encounter different ideologies and will have to adapt to different customs while you are abroad. Some students find it is necessary to hide their sexual orientation for safety reasons, while others feel free to express their sexual identity openly. In addition, discussing sexuality is taboo in some cultures, while in others it is acceptable.
Become informed and be aware of the attitudes, customs, and laws of your host country. Keep them in mind so you can have a safe and rewarding experience abroad.Must Ask Questions for LGBT Students:
Tips for LGBT Students:
- What are the laws regarding homosexuality in my host country?
- Is it safe for me to be out when I’m abroad? Should I come out to my host family?
- What are the cultural norms for dating and friendship?
- What kinds of LGBT resources are there in my host country?
- What is the LGBT population like in my host country? How visible and large is it? How do they dress, behave, etc.?
- Put your safety first.
- Before you leave, familiarize yourself with the customs and laws of your host country.
- Research whether or not talking about sexuality is taboo.
- Research the terms and definitions used in your host country to talk about LGBT issues.
- Find a support network abroad.