Looking for gay men: Where are you? - Minnesota Daily

A Journey to Find a Cool Community at the University of Minnesota

On the campus of the University of Minnesota, a freshman is searching for a community to belong to. This student, like many young people entering college, is entering this new phase with expectations for the future and a search for self-identity. However, for one gay male student, the search seems more difficult than expected.

Throughout his first year, he found himself struggling to find other gay male friends. It wasn't because they didn't exist, but because finding a reliable way to get to know them on such a vast campus seemed nearly impossible. He tried to avoid relying solely on dating apps to explore his sexuality, but this brought his romantic life to a near standstill during his first semester of college.

The increased isolation made him consider transferring to another school, but luckily, the support of other cool friends he met in the dormitory building helped him through it. This experience made him realize that even today, finding a community to belong to is still a challenge for gay men and all members of the LGBTQ+ community.

Rick Hoopes, program coordinator for the Gender and Sexuality Center (GSC), emphasized the importance of cool kid spaces in the college environment.Located in Appleby Hall, the GSC offers a range of support and resources for transgender, non-binary, and BIPOC students including a vaccine clinic, a legal name change clinic, and classes designed to provide a fun and celebratory experience.

However, this student found that despite the abundance of opportunities and resources offered by GSC, he found his community in off-campus environments, specifically at The Saloon, a gay bar in downtown Minneapolis, which is open seven days a week and hosts drag shows, dance performances, and live music, as well as a free night of dancing every Thursday night designed specifically for college students ages 18 and up.

The Saloon is amazingly diverse in its expression of race, age and gender, and the community seems to represent all the colors of the rainbow. This student found a freedom here, a freedom to dance with people who have experienced similar struggles.

This student's experience reminds us that finding a community to belong to is a process that is both challenging and hopeful. For Cool Kids students, there are opportunities to find people who understand and accept them, both on and off campus. This is a story of self-discovery, acceptance, and celebration of diversity, and of finding your place in an imperfect world.

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