The Lesbian Insider’s Guide to 40 LGBT-Friendly College Campuses

As August draws to a close and September beckons on the horizon, many young women of the gay persuasion will be heading off to college — perhaps you are one of those young women. Or perhaps some of you young saplings are beginning your senior years of high school and considering which colleges to apply to, in which case holy shit you are young, what are you doing here. The smartest among you are probably skipping college altogether, but that’s another topic for another day.

Due to overwhelming levels of social anxiety and self-doubt, many young ladies feel a bit uncomfortable for the first few weeks of school and aren’t sure where they fit in or where to find the other queers.

So we thought it’d be cool to pool our collective resources to prepare you for your blossoming sexuality and/or matriculation with the First Ever Autostraddle Lesbian College Guide!

Included you’ll find the inside scoop on 41 different colleges, mostly in the US but some in Canada, from queer ladies who go there right now or have graduated within the last two years.

Unfortunately, not every school in the whole wide world is included, and we’re aware that if your school is not in this post, that you are gonna lose your shit in the comments, so let’s address that right away.

Why is [x] school included and not [x] school?

We set our max number of schools in this post to 40 as anything over that is really unwieldy and could possibly spiral into a Princeton Review-size situation.

We had a list of schools we wanted covered due to their high scores on the Campus Pride Index and/or their sapphic reputations. We had every team member under the age of 24 who went/goes to college do a write-up on their University. We posted the list of schools we still needed coverage for in a post and many of you volunteered to cover them or asked us if we could cover your non-listed school.

We said “yes” to many of you and generally what we looked at was diversity in terms of geography as well as the school size. Many of you volunteered and didn’t follow through. In any event, this is not a perfect science.

We’re sorry that we didn’t have room for everybody and for every school and we invite you to share all your feelings about your school in the comments! Especially Sarah Lawrence. How did we not find one single volunteer from Sarah Lawrence? (Although our editor did attend Sarah Lawrence for a hot minute in 1999.) I feel like there are a lot of lesbians there.

Also sidenote — you may be familiar with Campus Pride.org— and if you’re not, you should be — every year they rank schools on various elements relevant to the LGBTQ community’s interests and they also just have a lot of resources regarding GLBTQ campus life.

American University

Washington, DC
by Carmen, AS Contributing Editor

carmen

Student Population: 6,657 undergraduate, 3,620 graduate
Tuition: $37,554 (plus $9,108 housing)
Acceptance Rate: 41% (2011)

My only insider advice on American University is: wait it out. It’s going to be a crazy ride. It’s going to be worth it. And someone is going to make out with you.

AU is a tried and true Dyke Paradise, complete with American Apparel-clad hipster lesbros, Anthropologie-shrugging femme girls on bikes, and alternative lifestyle haircuts (with a focus on the undercut). Each year at American University gets gayer. In fact, each minute is actually gayer than the last. I know this because I came here with an uncomfortable attraction to dudes who looked like girls, and now my internet network is called “homomafia.” By the time you get here everyone will be reading Autostraddle in the library and having lesbian sex in the quad. Or something like that.

I am ready to prove to you that the best place on Earth to be a lesbian is American University even though it has to lose to Smith College. But let’s just look at this neatly-compiled list of Things Making AU So Gay:

Queers and Allies, the gay club, has a Queer Women’s Advocacy Committee, meaning you can find all the cute girls within the first week of school.

+ Everyone at AU likes everyone. And I mean everyone. By the end of your time here the amount of gay girls in your life will have increased – exponentially. And someone is going to say they “just like people,” at least once.

+ Not one, but two Autostraddle writers have attended AU.

+ Plus, Judge Judy went here.

At AU, all kinds of queer girl experiences are rampant. You might come here a lesbian and leave here a lesbian with a bigger black book. You might come here a straight girl and realize you and your straight girl friend should be dating, and become famous on the internet. You might even start a queer women’s club to find girls, throw parties with said girls, and then remain on the scene with those girls despite no longer attending the school. You might be an outspoken ally – until you are an outspoken homo. You may even find yourself trying to hook up with a girl at a party that a bunch of your friends, since all your friends are gay, too, end up having feelings for.

This is the campus where “give no fucks” went from being a small joke to a school’s mantra. No matter what, you’re going to fit in somewhere. And someone is going to make out with you.

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Barnard

New York, NY
By Lily, AS Writer/Lily’s College Lesbianage 

lily

Student Population: 2,360
Tuition: $38,868 (plus $12,950 room and board)
Acceptance Rate: 28%

Barnard College is a strange place. This is not to say that I don’t love it—it may have taken me awhile to get used to but I do love it. It is impossible to explain exactly what Barnard is (it’s a women’s college, but there are men in our classes, we are an independent college, but we are part of Columbia University, we are the “straightest” women’s college yet there is a whole web of lady-loving-drama that happens here).

It is hard to talk about LGBTQ life at Barnard without talking about LGBTQ life at Columbia. Our worlds most certainly collide as we join each other’s clubs, date each other’s women, and take each other’s gender studies courses. Barnard has one official LGBTQ club called Q, which is sometimes packed but more often than not is sparsely attended. The “typical” Barnard College woman is very independent, which I believe is a major contribution to the minimal number of ladies who attend Q. We all have our own stuff going on and we have our own worlds outside of Barnard in the rest of New York City. I think many Barnard girls feel like they don’t have to join a club to meet other ladies. They can meet those women in their classes, their clubs, and outside Barnard/Columbia altogether.

The more time I spend at Barnard the more I realize that everyone is gay. For a while I truly did feel that Barnard was an incredibly straight women’s college—it does contain a rather “feminizing” force—but then I started actually meeting people (I’m slow, socially). I realized that many girls at Barnard are gay, straight and gay friendly, or open to dating/hooking up/doing whatever with any gender. Girls who I had originally assumed were straight have surprised me by introducing me to their girlfriend or talking about their crush on the women’s Rugby team (women’s rugby is gay, it just is, you cannot deny this, it is a fact).

Some Barnard students might not agree with me, but I have found that Barnard is a great place to be an openly gay lady. I’ve become friends with straight women, gay women, in-between women, sorority women, liberal women, conservative women, and non-women, and I have not once had a problem with them because of my sexuality. I’m pretty open about being gay, as in if you meet me once (especially if I’m drunk) you will hear about it. Some girls ask me questions about it, some girls are obviously interested in being “more than friends” with other girls, some girls treat it as a complete non-issue (because it is…), but none of these girls have treated me differently or poorly because of my gayness.

I would love to say that every gay lady at Barnard has had the same high-acceptance rate here but I know that this is probably not true. But I think that going to school in New York City is one of the best decisions any college-bound person who does not feel like they belong in their hometown could make. Moving to New York City in order to attend Barnard College was definitely one of the best things I have ever done.
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Brandeis University

Waltham, MA
by Rachel K, AS Senior News Editor

rachel

Student Population: 3,341 undergraduate, 2,301 graduate
Tuition: $40,514 (plus $12,732 room and board)
Acceptance Rate: 35%

I went to Brandeis from 2006-2010, and am proud to say it was a pretty good place to be a homo. Boston in general is pretty liberal, and Brandeis is so activist-y and social justice-y that for a lot of people having gay people around is a genuine non-issue. That’s not to say that there are never annoying or hard things associated with being gay there, but it tends to be more of the “well-meaning but clueless offensive remark” variety than the “anti-gay bullying or homophobic harassment” stuff.

There are people on campus who are pretty religious, but there’s also a healthy community of queer religious people; one of the coolest people I met there was an awesome out lesbian who I am pretty sure ended up going to rabbinical school.

Gay men are maybe more visible on campus, but I think lesbians and queer girls tended to have a stronger sense of community; I definitely had a queer woman crew that I rolled with, and I think that was a common experience. The gay group on campus is Triskelion, and to be honest I never went to a meeting, and most of my friends weren’t in it. There wasn’t a particular reason, though– I think the overall experience of being queer at Brandeis was just so totally fine that I didn’t feel the need to, whereas in high school I was SO in the GSA. Trisk does throw a baller Halloween party every year though, at which you will definitely get laid if you can put in just a minimum of effort.

There’s also a Queer Resource Center, which is anonymous peer-based counseling and support. A few of my friends worked there, and I highly recommend it if you need to talk.

Other good social options for queer girls: the women’s rugby or women’s ultimate teams. Just saying: gay. The options for dating aren’t overwhelming; it’s a pretty small school, and so the number of queer girls is pretty small also. When I was there, everyone dated everyone else’s ex at least twice. But Wellesley is right there, and BC and BU, Harvard, Simmons, Northeastern, etc. are really nearby. If you have an OKCupid account (which, come on, I know you do) meeting people won’t be hard. Good luck!

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Brown University

Providence, RI

Student Population: 6,102 undergraduate, 1,905 graduate
Tuition: $39,928 (plus $11,432 room and board)
Acceptance Rate: 9.3%

The LGBT environment at Brown is very safe and friendly. LGBT resources (e.g. LGBTQ Resource Center) are plentiful and LGBT folks are everywhere. The city of Providence can be less welcoming– sometimes people shout homophobic things on the street. Brown itself, though, is very welcoming; I’d even go so far as to say that Brown isn’t just gay-friendly but gay-loving. Our Sex, Power, God party thrown every year by the Queer Alliance is a huge success.

The lesbian population at Brown is smaller compared to the gay male population but the environments and resources for both groups are intertwined. Lesbians seem to have less visibility, perhaps because we are a smaller group– but don’t worry! We are here and the community of queer women at Brown is welcoming and fun. We have a big party in the spring called “Carpe Dykem: Seize the Gay,” and we’re working on having other queer women specific events as well. Krista Burton of Effingdykes is coming in the Fall.

There is an emphasis on hook-up culture at Brown, especially at parties like Sex, Power, God and Carpe Dykem, but there are definitely also those who are in serious relationships (though I think they’re probably in the minority). And then there’s the rugby team.

There’s a Queer Alliance at Brown, which is basically an umbrella organization for many smaller clubs and groups that have more specific goals and purposes, such as Girls Night Out (a queer group that meets weekly to hang out and talk), BiTE (a group where bisexuals talk and eat), the Queer Political Action Group, Athlete Alliance, etc.

For new queers on campus, I’d recommend going to the first big meeting of the Queer Alliance at the beginning of the year. Sign up on their e-mail list and you’ll get out weekly announcements of things going on around campus for queers. Sex, Power, God is a party worth checking out, but I really recommend going to as many things as possible.

Providence has a few gay bars. Aside from those few times people have shouted homophobic things at me from their cars, I’ve experienced Providence as pretty friendly.

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Bryn Mawr College

Bryn Mawr, PA

Student Population: 1,306
Tuition: $39,860 (plus $12,890 room and board)
Acceptance Rate: 48.6%

The Bryn Mawr College environment is about as safe as it gets for LGBTQ* students. Bryn Mawr prides itself on tolerance for all kinds of communities, and since queer ladies are very visible on campus (some might argue the most visible) no one really thinks twice about the queer presence here. We are one of the Seven Sisters, which means we’re a school of women, for women, by women, and lots of times those women love other women.

Concerning your prospective queer social life: Bryn Mawr is not known for its ragers, but that doesn’t mean we don’t know how to party. There is always something to do, either on campus or in the vicinity– when you’re a twenty-minute train ride from Philly, you don’t really have an excuse for being bored on a Friday night. Plus, the tri-college consortium supplies every variety of party known to man. You can go to Radnor and hang with the lesbros, or you can take the bus to Haverford for a terribly-themed keg party in a Gummere basement, or you can go to Swarthmore and check out a more diverse scene (but avoid the frat parties– roofies are no joke and the Swat frat scene has a serious issue with date rape and sexual assault). At said parties, you may meet many attractive queers. That’s great, but keep in mind that Bryn Mawr is a smaller campus than it seems, and the queer community is even smaller. My advice? Go into Philly, find queers who have never heard of Bryn Mawr, and date them. Date them hard, and never look back.

Queer community support is great, and the entire college ends up functioning as a support system unto itself. There is one dominant queer club called Rainbow Alliance, which welcomes everyone and is a great place to meet people and lead queer events. The other club is an anonymous Queer Support group, which gives a place for people who may or may not be out to talk about the issues that affect them as a queer-identified woman or man. But the great thing about Bryn Mawr is that you don’t have to join a club to meet ladies. You will meet queers everywhere– in class, in the dining hall, down your hall, walking across the green.

Bryn Mawr is a safe haven, and the surrounding Main Line is similarly safe, probably because they’re just so used to seeing gay ladies by now. Philly is a typical urban area– it depends on what neighborhood you’re in, but for the most part it’s not dangerous to be an out queer in the city.

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Carleton College

Northfield, MN

Student Population: 2,009
Tuition: $42,690 (plus $11,238 room and board)
Acceptance Rate: about 30% (2011)

Carleton College, a small liberal arts college plunked in the middle of Minnesota is home to many silly, energetic and smart-but-not-braggy-about-it folks. The icing on the cake is that, Carleton is, in many ways, a big ol’ LGBTQ-friendly bubble.

I rarely feel weird about lesbian PDA on campus. And as an out queer woman on campus I feel included in all major social things (like our Midwinter Ball and Senior Prom) and I’ve brought female dates to all of these functions. At our big school dance parties a “Queer Corner” usually forms, but, at least for queer women, I usually felt like this was just sort of a social thing and not a defense mechanism against the straight Carleton population. However, while I sometimes feel like there are gay girls everywherrrre (go to a women’s hockey game and you will understand), trans students are much much fewer & far between. Also trans issues have less acceptance on campus (although that is changing) and we’ve had trouble with institutional things like gender-neutral bathrooms being universal across campus.

The dating scene at Carleton is as about as good as a queer girl could expect for such a small school. It gets incestuous between queer women on campus, especially within certain circles. But often, there are even more women interested in women than it seems upon first glance– lots of people are gay/queer/bi/etc. without being super vocal about their identities. Also, Carleton has great GSA-type stuff. The Gender and Sexuality Center (GSC) does the feminism thing & the gay thing in one office and keeps the queer activities a-flowing: Coming Out Week, Rainbow Retreat, Pride Month, events, etc. And, a lot of non-queer events will end up being pretty queer. Gay girls are all over the place here and a lot of situations that aren’t explicitly queer (outdoor club, for example) also can feel rather . . . well, gay.

Northfield, MN, is no Greenwich Village, but it isn’t intolerant most of the time. The UU church in town has been really active about being pro-gay, and a lot of the townies agree. Also, there are lots of fun queer things to do in Minneapolis, but school is so jam-packed with stuff, you hardly need it. All in all, Carleton is awesome and for a small campus, queer life definitely felt like a lot bigger than I expected.

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Concordia University

Montréal, Quebec

Student Population: 34,548 undergraduate, 6,670 graduate
Tuition: $4,917 to $25,238 depending on citizenship
Acceptance Rate: Your guess is as good as ours.

Concordia University is a vastly diverse, Anglo university in the big gay metropolis of Montréal. With a wild week of rainbow Pride in August and the Diver/Cité festival in July, a vibrant gay village full of clubs, bars, diners, high-end restaurants, B&Bs, and then some, the emergence of a new queer bar in the oh-so-gay-friendly Mile-End, recurring events like Meow Mix, Amène Ta Blonde, Faggity Ass Fridays, and the new Gurl Talk, this city is more than a welcoming place to attend school.

Queer Concordia is the university’s LGBTQ+allies student group. The group arranges events and get-togethers during the fall and winter semesters, and members use the facebook page to promote other queer-happenings in Montréal, like the start up of DrivePink.com, a gay-friendly rideshare network.

Concordia also houses the Simone de Beauvoir Institute, which offers studies in feminism(s), sexuality, and social justice. The 2110 Centre for Gender Advocacy offers many activities as well as volunteer opportunities for the queer community and beyond. In their own words the centre promotes “gender equality and empowerment” working “within a feminist framework that challenges systemic oppressions.” It offers a wealth of support, including a peer-to-peer network and safer sex resources.

The University has many academic programs (and several trans-friendly washrooms!) and it’s easy to get involved… or not. You don’t have to hook up with the cute girl in your Sexual Representation in Cinema class– you’ve got four major universities and a city full of other très très gay women to choose from.

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Cornell University

Ithaca, NY

Student Population: 13,931 undergraduate, 6,702 graduate
Tuition: $41,325
Acceptance Rate: 18.4% (2010)

Cornell is a pretty good place to be gay. The school is very supportive, and there are many resources available. The LGBT Resource Center is a good place to start. Here you can find books, helpful staff, and safe sex supplies to your heart’s content. There are also several student-run organizations, led by the umbrella organization Haven. We have a Gay-Straight Alliance and a social and support group specifically for women who love women, LBQ. Most people who choose to be out feel comfortable doing so. The Ithaca community in general is very supportive of the LGBT community. The gay male community is definitely the more dominant side of the queer community, but efforts are being made to be more inclusive of women, and the queer women’s community is stepping up its game as well (we hosted an Ironic Lesbian Hipster Party in the spring; ’twas epic).

Cornellians work hard and play hard, and we’re not known as the hottest Ivy for nothing. There are lots of parties every weekend, though if you want queer-centric parties you do have to look a little harder. The social scene on campus is dominated by the Greek community, but as you make friends you’ll find it’s easier to find non-Greek social events. Gay men drive much of the queer party scene here, but their parties are open to women, and women-focused parties do happen. In addition, Haven sponsors several events throughout the year, including Homocoming in the Fall and Filthy/Gorgeous in the Spring. The Cornell Women’s Rugby Football Club is also pretty queer and holds a lot of parties. If you are female, you have a 95% chance of being asked to join the team. If you don’t get asked, it just means that you haven’t met a rugby player yet. The Greek community has an LGBT “task force” comprised of Intra-Fraternity Council and Pan-Hellenic members and is working to become more inclusive. My queer friends in sororities have all given mixed reviews about what it’s like to be queer and Greek.

If partying isn’t your thing, there are many other awesome queer social opportunities. During the early part of the semester, several queer social events will be held (make sure you get on the Haven listserv at Club Fest to find out about them). In addition, the group for women who love women, LBQ, meets every Tuesday. This is a good place to meet and make friends with other women, and the focus isn’t necessarily always on the fact that you’re all into women. It can be a support group, a place to relax before a prelim (Cornell-speak for midterm), or simply a place to hang out and meet new people.

From a dating perspective, the hook up culture is big (gay or straight). Longer-term dating is more rare, but certainly not unheard of. It simply depends on what you’re looking for.

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Duke University

Durham, NC

Student Population: 6,504 undergraduate, 7,744 graduate
Tuition: $40,575 (plus $11,830 room and board)
Acceptance Rate: 18.94%

At Duke there have been many women-directed efforts to increase our community’s visibility and size. Last year a university-funded magazine, WOMYN (for queer women and their allies) was launched. The Duke LGBT staff also puts on a monthly dinner + discussion called “Women Loving Women” for any LGBTQ or questioning woman-identified student. About 25-35 women come each month, mostly graduate students.

The Duke LGBT Center is 4th-largest campus LGBT Center in the nation! It provides a safe space for LGBTQ students and their allies, especially for those students who are not able to be out at home but would like an environment on campus where they can be open about their sexuality.The LGBT Center at Duke has become a second-home for a lot of students and the three full-time staff members always have their doors open to meet with students and go over the various resources Duke has to offer LGBTQ-identified students. Check out their website for details on the “Welcome Back Party,” ice cream socials and “Fabulous Friday.” There are events and celebrations thoughout the year. In October there is a campus-wide celebration of National Coming Out Day (free Love=Love shirts anyone?). In November there is the Trans Day of Remembrance. In December there is an even for World AIDS Day. And at the end of the year there is Lavendar Graduation complete with rainbow tassels! We also have an undergraduate-specific LGBTQ organization called “Blue Devils United“. BDU throws a “Lavender Ball” each spring that is usually well-attended and a lot of fun. If you are sporty check out Athletes United.

There have been a lot of advances for the transgender community within the last year. There is a new Gender-Neutral Housing policy. There are unisex bathrooms somewhat consistently in the different regions of campus, and overall the LGBT community at Duke has the support of the University and the student government.

Overall the environment is safe for LGBTs, and depending on the various scenes you’re involved in (religious, fraternity/sorority, etc.), there might be varying levels of social friendliness towards LGBTQ individuals. Nevertheless, I would say that in general it’s a safe and accepting place. The surrounding town of Durham is known as “lesbian ground-zero”, and there is a pretty thriving queer female community in the area, heavily grounded in the folk/DIY music scene. Post Riot-Grrrl band, “The Butchies,” is actually from Durham!

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Hampshire College

Amherst, MA
by Kalei & Liz


Student Population: 1,500
Tuition: $41,900 (plus $11,180 room and board)
Acceptance Rate: about 53%

Hampshire College is nestled in Amherst, MA, which is a progressive little town close to Northampton, MA (the lesbian capital of the world). The town has lots of quaint stores and vegan/vegetarian restaurants as well as a few bars that Hampshire kids have to share with Amherst College and UMASS Amherst. Hampshire is made up of only individuals; people that shy away from “socially-acceptable” notions of gender, sexuality, presentation and most other aspects of identity. Hampshire is extremely permitting of all-things LGBTQQIA, and in fact there is a “Queer Community Alliance” event built into the orientation program almost annually.

Many women at Hampshire are queer-identified, few strictly identify as lesbians. Many female-bodied queer folks don’t even identify as women. Most people on campus attempt to be trans* friendly. Asking for someone’s pronouns is built into orientation, and many who attend Hampshire are able to question their gender with the support of peers.

It is difficult to locate a date that a friend hasn’t already dated because the school is so small. Granted, an upcoming Hampshire student can benefit from the close relationship/bus-ride we have with Smith and Mt Holyoke College. There are several multi-campus events and one can expand her community by taking a class at another one of the schools. People are generally outgoing and friendly – especially in the first few weeks of each semester, so finding friends who share your beliefs will be a cinch.

On-campus activities range from meet-and-greets to large dances and lectures. The Queer Community Alliance is an umbrella student group that has several sub-groups including TSA (Trans-Student Alliance), Fempire, Queer International & People of Color and Alternative Sexuality Collective. These groups are active on campus and have WEEKLY meetings and/or events such as the Gender F*ck Dance and queer soccer games. Sometimes these initiatives fall flat and fail to involve enough of the community, but typically they have a pretty big draw.

Ultimately Hampshire will be what you make of it. All beginnings at this school WILL undoubtedly be awkward, but the people that can break through this unnerving shell will be rewarded with rainbows.

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Ithaca College

Ithaca, NY

Student Population: 6,442 undergraduate, 507 graduate
Tuition: $35,278 (plus $12,854 room and board)
Acceptance Rate: 69%

Without sounding like too much of a scummy college tour guide, I highly recommend Ithaca College for all of your lesbian liberal-arts needs.

Ithaca itself serves as college town to both Ithaca College and our dear neighbor Cornell University. The area is bustling with eccentric people– street magicians, tattooed ivy league geniuses, aggressively talented Frisbee players– so being a gay dude or lady doesn’t phase anyone. The best way I can describe the city’s approach to the GSM community is “cheerfully apathetic.” It’s an excellent college town, very gay friendly, and safety for anyone– queer, lady, queer lady– is rarely an issue.

I’ve never heard of anyone being abused verbally or physically for being gay while on campus. There may be a few awkward questions from acquaintances, but I don’t know of any aggression against gays. Of course if you’re looking for people who feel strongly about gay rights, look no further than Ithaca College. Now Ithaca’s website will tell you we have four LGBT organizations: one for bisexuals, one activism group, one for student athletes and one for anyone in the queer community. However, I always secretly count IC Feminists as a gay club, too.

If you don’t want to exclusively hang out with queermos, IC has a club for everyone– Harry Potter alliance, theatre, music groups, a student-run TV station, intramural and D3 sports teams, student government, video game designing, religious groups, circus club. Whatever you’re interested in, there’s probably a group of people already really excited about it. Let your freak flag fly.

We also have an awesome LGBT center for counseling, activism, or whatever you need. Plus its director just received Planned Parenthood’s top honor for educators. Did I mention Ithaca College is one of the nation’s top 100 schools for LGBT students? Yeah, we’re pretty swanky.

I can’t speak to one specific dating “scene” on campus. A lot of gay ladies meet through the LGBT-specific groups (Prism and Spectrum are fairly social clubs) but I met my group of GSM friends through DJing at the student-run radio stations. You may also meet a bunch of people through your major—we have huge theatre, music, and communications departments. One of my favorite things about IC is there are too many awesome people, LGBT or otherwise, to keep track of.

The city of Ithaca itself is also gay-friendly. There’s lots to do and it’s safe unless you’re a pot plant. It’s a good place to be queer.

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Johns Hopkins University

Baltimore, MD
by Rose, AS Contributing Editor

rose

Student Population: 4,980 undergraduate, 1,842 graduate
Tuition: $40,680 (plus $12,510 room and board)
Acceptance Rate: about 20%

I am primarily a student at the Peabody Conservatory, a music school that is a part of Johns Hopkins, but in a different part of Baltimore from the main campus in Homewood. However, I spend a lot of time at both campuses, so here is my insight into what it’s like to be queer at Hopkins:

On the one hand, JHU is a fairly liberal university which cares about its queer students. The Homewood campus has some issues with misogyny from certain students, but homophobia is generally frowned-upon across the various campuses, at least in my experience. You’d be hard-pressed to find many openly hateful students, and pretty much all the faculty and staff I have met have been supportive. There are also queer student groups on the various JHU campuses; out of them, I only have experience with DSAGA (Diverse Sexuality and Gender Alliance) at the main campus and the Peabody GSA, but they are both great. DSAGA, in fact, is huge, and they have great weekly discussions, regular trips to clubs in D.C. and lots of other great events. JHU doesn’t have an LGBT Center or anything, but overall I’ve always felt like the various services on campus address the specific needs of queer students.

On the other hand, there aren’t a lot of dating opportunities. Oh sure, the Peabody campus, like any other performing arts school, has a ton of gay guys. There’s even a saying here about unattached freshman dudes – “If he’s not gay, he’s gay by May!” But queer girls are less common, and JHU in general does not have a strong “queer community” of its own. If you want to find one, you need to head off-campus – Baltimore has a fair number of queer establishments (especially in the Mount Vernon neighborhood) and in general is a large, progressive city with friendly people and lots of things to do. Baltimore isn’t New York; you have to seek out the fun rather than expect it to come to you, which is why some people (wrongly) believe Baltimore is boring. If you take time to ride the Charm City Circulator and JHMI Shuttle to the city’s various neighborhoods, though, you will find a diverse array of sights and experiences (though don’t go into every neighborhood; Baltimore isn’t the safest city). If that’s still not enough for you, D.C., Philadelphia and New York are all within a few hours’ drive!

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Kenyon College

Gambier, OH

Student Population: 1,600
Tuition: $41,090 (plus $10,020 room and board)
Acceptance Rate: 33.5%

The environment is pretty lesbian/queer women-friendly and feels very queer safe. There is occasional leering from some fraternities but most students are extremely accepting and supportive.

Kenyon is a small school. Even the heteros complain about the small dating pool and how incestuous most friend groups seem to be. The queer women’s scene is no better. Most girls don’t have a problem with it, but it’s definitely something that you’ll have to adjust to. But the dating scene is totally what you make of it and if you want to actually go for coffee with a person you think is cute, you can make it happen.

The social scene is super lively. Though Kenyon has Greek life, only a small portion of the population actually pledges, making frat parties inclusive campus events. Speaking of Greeks, there are a fair number of out queer sorority and fraternity members. For those who aren’t inclined to attend an enormous keg n’ dance party, there are TONS of bands to check out, active literary and book writing circles, smaller house/apartment parties, movie nights, pool tables, plays, and a cappella concerts, etc. More students attend the pre-game a cappella concerts and comedy shows than the actual football games. Because Kenyon is in the middle of nowhere, students have figured out millions of ways to stay entertained on campus.

There are three queer campus organizations. Unity House is both a student residence and an general GSA organization where the student managers lead a meeting once a week. The Queer Women’s Collective (colloquially known as Qdubs or QWC) holds meetings once a week in various locations around campus. Membership is anonymous and there is a very strict “no discussing who was at the meeting outside of the meeting” rule, keeping it safe for women who are not out on campus to attend. It’s mostly a social organization where meetings can consist of anything from pizza and board games to poignant discussions about what it’s like to be a queer college student. Also, the leaders mandate a “keep your drama at the door” rule, making sure that you and your ex-girlfriend can both happily attend. Additionally, there is the Queer Men’s Society, which functions in the same manner as Qdubs.

Definitely, definitely attend a Queer Women’s Collective meeting. The queer ladies who attend range from Gold Star Lesbians to those who are still questioning and are extremely welcoming, warm, and friendly and love to see new faces at any point in the semester. Other not explicitly gay but very gay-friendly organizations are: ECO (lesbians love the environment), the women’s Ultimate Frisbee team, Women’s Rugby, PEAS, the Crozier Center for Women, and the Owl Creeks who are seriously the hottest all-girl a cappella group. Ever.

In Gambier, most of the residents are professors or associated with Kenyon is some way, making them fairly queer friendly. The closest “real” town is Mt. Vernon, which is about 10 minutes away by shuttle or car. Mt. Vernon is not queer friendly and has a large conservative Christian population. Columbus, which is and hour away, has a thriving lesbian scene. Seriously, the Short North is like a lesbian hot spot and it’s marvelous.

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McGill University

Montréal, Quebec
by Carolyn, AS Contributing Editor

carolyn

Student Population: 25,267 undergraduate, 8,301 graduate
Tuition: $3,652 to $16,690 depending on citizenship
Acceptance Rate:46%

The main gay group/ official presence at McGill is Queer McGill, which is a student-run organization that I have heard unaffectionately described as “a clique-y bunch of leftist exclusionists.” The few times I went to meetings (not larger events, which, it should be noted, were much different), I got the sense that as a lesbian with a mostly unexciting gender presentation, I wasn’t queer enough to stay. Queer McGill does do some awesome things — there are welcome discussion groups, regular coming out discussion groups, several large dance-, booze- and make-out-fueled parties, and an office (with books!) to hang out in if that’s your cup of tea. But a significant number of queer people on campus seem to be unaffiliated, and I have no problem understanding why.

Generally speaking, McGill is gay-positive. It has: The Union for Gender Empowerment (even more books!), political working groups, a McGill Senate committee to advocate for queer and trans* students, faculty and staff, a sexual diversity minor, and lots of gender neutral bathrooms. And most of the time if you’re being stared at for holding hands on campus, it’s by another gay girl checking you out (and, there seems to be a lot of them. So that’s a plus). Montréal is also pretty queer-positive, and has plenty of events, groups, and bars (check out Faggity Ass Fridays, a dance party; Project 10, a queer youth support service; or Drugstore, a mostly lesbian bar) to make up for whatever campus is missing.

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Northwestern University

Evanston, IL

Student Population: 8,367 undergraduate, 8,108 graduate
Tuition: $13,864 per quarter
Acceptance Rate: 23% (2010)

The overall atmosphere towards to LGBT community at Northwestern is quite accepting, especially with our big theater department. There is an LGBT Resource Center, a Rainbow Alliance, Rainbow Week, a chapter of the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association, gender-open housing, Greek Allies and a Women’s Center. Attendance at Rainbow Alliance meetings is very low, and the people who do go seem to be a bit of a clique. But I would recommend at least going to a few meetings at first to meet people. The new Guidance and Peer Solutions (GPS) program is a pretty good way to start becoming involved in the community by learning from an older student. And you definitely don’t want to miss the Drag Show in the winter.

NU is very Greek, though, and I think to some extent, the structure of the Greek community (its dress code & social schedule in particular) squelches the lady gays a little bit. The gayish sorority, Alpha Delta Pi, is gone. Frankly, that sums up the condition of the lesbian community at large. Everyone means well but there aren’t enough visible lesbians to make any sort of homo scene for women a reality.

To be honest, there is no dating scene. Just don’t even try, it’s heartbreaking. Join the rugby team, as we are getting gayer, need rookies, and are going someplace homosexual for spring break. I hear the soccer team’s pretty gay too.

While Evanston is as heteronormative as they come, it is super close to Chicago, which means if you’re willing to sit through the first awkward five minutes of a Chicagostraddlers meetup, you will be rewarded with a wonderfully diverse queer posse who will accompany you to derby matches, lady arm wrestling, chicken and waffles, Pride, FKA at Big Chick’s, brunch at the Chicago Diner, and pretty much anything involving alternative lifestyle haircuts/flasks. Having a fake ID is strongly recommended, as you do not want to miss the WCR afterparties.

One last thing: take Lane Fenrich’s queer history course. The man (gay, dean of freshmen, searingly brilliant) is just fucking magic; you will be a better homo for having taken his class. Also there’s a secret Einstein’s Bagel on the second floor of Pancoe (you’re welcome) and apparently it’s where all the hot lesbian science types get their breakfast (you’re double welcome).

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NYU

New York, NY
by Taylor, AS Tech Writer

Taylor

Student Population: 19,401 undergraduate, 18,990 graduate
Tuition: $38,765 per year (2010)
Acceptance Rate: 29%

In retrospect I have no idea how or why I decided to go to NYU, just that it seemed like it would be sufficiently radically far away from Houston when I got there. NYU was definitely a unique experience, an amazing one too, but talking about queer life at NYU in some respects is just talking about life in downtown Manhattan. NYU doesn’t have a campus to speak of, really; you’re just mixed right in with the city. Obviously, life in downtown Manhattan is really, really gay, but unfortunately, that flavor of gay is often a one-dimensional, flattened-out portrait populated by shiny Manhattanite gay men. That said, DIY lady queerness was never very difficult . . . and we lady queers love to DIY, am I right?

After my freshman year, I became super involved with NYU’s LGBT office, and signed on as an LGBT Peer Educator. Assuming the program still exists, it was a really cool way to step up my game and plug into the community, and it really crystallized my queer identity. Through the NYU LGBT office I held exactly one batrillion workshops on issues ranging from basic identity stuff, to sex toys (demos and all, of course!), to trans-awareness and even queer Valentine’s Day speed-dating. I had the chance to trade ideas with a diverse bunch of queers about identity politics on the regular (and take naps in the office, naturally). Having a vast spread of sharp gay minds around me at all times was invaluable, and obviously we threw great parties too.

The NYU LGBT office went to great lengths to be inclusive and raise awareness about a broad spectrum of LGBT issues, but at the end of the day, the school’s stereotype remains: NYU is chock-full of gay boys and a bunch of straight women who inexplicably crave their friendship. It can be extremely alienating when every single fucking time someone at your school says the word ‘gay’ they mean ‘this certain flavor of biologically gay male who looks like so and abides by these unspoken rules of gaydom’ and you’re like, “er, hey that word belongs to me too, but here you are defining it.”

When I went to college as a naive not-out protoqueer, I thought that kind of ‘gay’ was good enough for me. Over time, I found the diversity I began to crave, and by the end I was part of a rollicking group of queers of all different stripes. Once you get your foot in the door, a whole world of queerdom opens up, but much like anything else in New York, you’ve got to take the initiative. While I initially didn’t know how I fit into that 2D picture, getting heavily involved in LGBT activism early on opened up a nuanced world beyond that telltale New York sheen, and the city and the school are both teeming with a rich queer underground — full of gay ladies who will sleep with you, of course! And if anyone ever invites you to a party in Brooklyn: Go. Your people are there, lurking on the periphery, and they will embrace you with open legs.

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Oberlin College

Oberlin, OH

Student Population: 2,800
Tuition: $42,842 (plus $11,550 room and board)
Acceptance Rate: 33%

Safety for the LGBTQ community is of no question on campus– as an out lesbian I have never felt unsafe or out of place, and neither has anyone I’ve talked to. Teachers are hugely supportive, as are peers.

Dating at Oberlin for lesbians specifically is complicated, but not overwhelming difficult to navigate. Involvement in lesbian-heavy activities (i.e. women’s rugby) is a fail-safe way to meet, hook-up with, or date a large quantity of lesbians, as well as develop friendships with upperclassmen who are more savvy in the dating scene and can easily direct you towards available gay women.

The overall social scene is somewhat fragmented, like much of the gay community. Although Oberlin students gather en-mass for marches or riots or large-scale events like Safer Sex Night (an educational week that involves workshops like “How to please a vagina” and culminates in a campus-wide dance), people’s friends are usually based on their involvement in sports, clubs, majors, or living spaces.

There is no overall GSA, rather interest-specific groups like Lambda Union, Zami (queer people of color), Queer Jews and Allies, Queers and Allies of Faith, and the Transgender Advocacy Group. The Oberlin Queer Wellness Coalition is new, but that is likely to become a more widely-based gay club/group.

The biggest gay events on campus are Drag Week/Drag Ball (a week-long educational event) and queer nights at the Sco (the college-run dance club). Some housing is also gay-heavy, especially Baldwin Cottage. It is the Women’s and Trans* Collective. Baldwin is also a safe-space for those who do need a complete escape from pressures related to sexuality, and is easily one the most open-minded spaces on campus. Also, rugby.

Oberlin is located in Oberlin, OH– and by “located” I mean the college is actually more than half of the town. As a result, the town and college are nearly identical in terms of communities, and thus almost equally as friendly (except for the occasional look from an old lady walking down the street).

Basically Oberlin is one of the best queer communities I’ve been involved in. It is more fragmented than most, but that is changing. As a result of events like Drag Ball and Safer Sex Week, as well as majors like Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies, people are generally well-educated on queer and trans* issues, and are willing to let you know upfront if they are not. I’ve also yet to meet a closeted lesbian– a majority of the freshmen either announce their gay-ness or their newfound bisexuality by the end of first semester. Role models, once found, are invaluable resources, and provide proof to many a baby-dyke that there are real-live lesbians in the world and that acceptance is the norm at Oberlin College.

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Pomona College

Claremont, CA

Student Population: 1,560
Tuition: $38,087 (plus $13,096 room and board)
Acceptance Rate: 13.6%

Pomona and the Claremonts (which share one contiguous campus and have a lot of cross-enrollment, but are technically separate institutions) are extremely queer-friendly as far as institutions of higher learning go. LGBTQ ally and awareness training is offered fairly regularly for both professors and students, and I’d venture to say that the vast majority of the student body (and the faculty/staff) are really supportive and friendly towards queer people. Once in a blue moon there will be a ‘bias-related incident’, usually perpetuated by a member of one of the sports teams, but they’re never major and are always taken seriously by the administration (think gay slurs written on a whiteboard in a dorm hall– they’re shitty, but they never endanger queer students or even really make anyone feel unsafe. Regardless, they aren’t tolerated by faculty at all). Pomona is also wonderful not just for people of varying sexual orientations, but for those with nontraditional gender identities, as well. There’s a pretty big contingent of students who go out of their way to make sure they’re addressing you with the correct pronouns, etc. It’s sort of startling at first, but the level of respect is wonderful and makes me, at least, feel really safe.

The dating scene is more of a hookup scene than anything. There are a lot of long-term relationships, but many of them started as drunken party hookups and then progressed to something more. The relationship rate IS significantly higher among queer women than queer guys, though, probably because there are significantly more women at the consortium than guys (Scripps College is right next door). There’s a lot of hooking up with friends and with people who have hooked up with said friends, but that happens everywhere.

The social scene is . . . interesting. Some would say it’s too quiet, but I definitely don’t think so– you just have to know where to look. There are no fraternity or sorority houses on campus (thank goodness), so ragers aren’t too common. Big dance-y parties, which happen about every other week, are hosted by the schools. They’re fun, if you’re inebriated or just want to dance, but can be overwhelming. There are lots of smaller kickbacks in individual dorm rooms, which are usually where the queer parties happen.  If you aren’t into partying there’s always hanging out in the dorms/quad/library/whatever.

The Claremonts’ version of a GSA is the Queer Resource Center (QRC). The QRC hosts weekly talks on different themes (gender talk, grrl talk, guy talk, etc.) as well as a myriad of other events. Last semester they had a queer faculty symposium series, a bunch of film screenings, a HUGE calendar of events for Gaypril and more.

New queers on campus should definitely check out the QRC. They host the Queer, Questioning, and Allied Mentor Program (QQAMP), which is a really excellent resource. At the beginning of the year, new students in the program can request a student mentor (often one who identifies the same way they do). This mentor will answer questions, provide support, and help them make friends. It’s highly recommended for all incoming queer students. Don’t be afraid to ask any of the other queer students on campus questions, though– everyone is welcoming and more than happy to have you come along to events, meals, and parties. If you’re looking for a place to hang out, definitely check out the Motley. It’s a student-run coffeeshop on the Scripps campus that is often a haunt of the queerz. They host a lot of small concerts and open mics, but it’s a great place to study or chill with friends too. Plus, the baristas are all really cute! And if you’re looking for a place to find other girls who like girls, look no further than the 5C women’s rugby team. Stereotypical, but wonderful.

Claremont is a small, sleepy college town, but a very liberal one. As such, it’s quietly gay-friendly, but not a lot of people are marching around waving rainbow flags or anything like that. We’re pretty close to LA, though, so if you’d like to find gay/lesbian bars or clubs or hangouts, they’re less than an hour away.

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Rice University

Houston, TX

Student Population: 3,485 undergraduate, 2,275 graduate
Tuition: $33,120 (plus $11,750 room and board)
Acceptance Rate: 21%

Rice’s general population is supportive of the LGBT communities, but the average student’s knowledge and/or understanding of LGBT issues and lifestyles varies. Their knowledge of trans* issues is especially lacking. However, the administration, faculty, and staff are extremely supportive and there are ally-trained psychiatrists, counselors, peer health advisors, and orientation advisors on campus.

Because Rice is a relatively small school, there is a limited dating pool, but the people who are around are cool. If you look off-campus, your dating horizons widen significantly.

Rice students work hard, but they play hard too. Most students study/are really over-involved during the week, and then blow off steam on the weekend. Rice hearts theme parties and has a lot of on-campus events. Because of all of the resources and entertainment available, Rice can become kind of insular/people can become hesitant to leave campus, but if anyone gets out into the real world, it’s the LGBT community.

The gay club at Rice is called Queers & Allies. The quality of the club fluctuates year to year, depending on student leadership and involvement, but if you want to be involved and make things happen, it’s definitely possible. The club is a healthy mix of a social group and an activist/visibility-based entity, and it holds weekly meetings and monthly events.

For nightlife, there’s Blur (lesbian club), South Beach (gay club), and The Usual (lesbian bar, 21+), as well as a number of other gay bars/clubs. If you’re into drag you can find queens and kings perform regularly at F Bar (21+), a local troupe of kings called the Gendermyn do drag in the community, and Rice Queers & Allies has an annual drag show in the spring. If you’re politically inclined and/or into volunteering, you can attend Equality Texas meetings, check out the Houston GLBT Political Caucus, or volunteer at HATCH (Houston LGBT youth organization) or the Bering Omega House (AIDs hospice). Other things to check out include the Transgender Center, the Houston GLBT Center, Qfest (Houston LGBT film festival), Houston Pride (it happens at night you guys!), and the Rice Center for the Study of Women, Gender, and Sexuality.

As for Houston, it is the largest city with an openly gay mayor. Yayyy! According to the work of demographer Gary Gates, Texas has the fourth largest LGBT population and Houston has the 12th largest number of LGBT individuals in the country. The Kinder Houston Area Survey found that the majority of Houstonians find being gay acceptable and support same-sex marriage. The Houston Independent School District requires every Principal and at least one Vice Principal from each school in the district to attend a two-hour training workshop addressing the rights and safety of gay and lesbian students.

Overall, Houston is a really underrated city with a thriving arts culture and a vibrant LGBT community that always welcomes more queermos! Come to Texas. I promise whatever Rick Perry has isn’t contagious.

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San Francisco State University

San Francisco, CA


Student Population: 30,000
Tuition: $6,276 to $7,542
Acceptance Rate: 67%

There are two groups/clubs for gays on campus. EGAY, Everything Great About You, is specifically for students who live on campus and it’s a good way to get integrated with the gay campus community. The other group is the Queer Alliance, and it’s for both residents and non. In my opinion EGAY is better because it’s more interactive and has more of a scene. They usually have weekly meetings and have all kinds of events. They host a yearly drag show. All of my experiences with Queer Alliance are “meh” at best. They don’t have many members and the members they DO have don’t attend the meetings. Occasionally they do have bonfires, parties or other socials, though each one I’ve personally tried to attend was cancelled, so I don’t actually know what goes on.

Though there might be more, I only know of one 18+ club for queers. The Crib is where I go to get my homo dancing on. It’s hosted every Thursday night near downtown San Francisco. While there are often time middle-aged straight male creepers, The Crib has about a 75:25 gay to straight ratio, which isn’t too bad. The DJ is popping and the crowd is much nicer than the straight crowd that shows up on Friday nights at the same venue.

The best way to get out into the homo world at State is to talk to some homos. At the beginning of the semester everyone is looking for friends so if you start early you’ll be bound to find a nice little homo niche to call home. Where there’s one gay, there’re more.

Also the school has an official site about all things gay.
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Scripps College

Claremont, CA

Student Population: 946
Tuition: $52,900
Acceptance Rate: 39%

Scripps College is a women’s college located in Claremont, California, and is one of 5 other colleges that make up the Claremont Colleges Consortium. While Claremont is a sleepy little college town, it is surrounded by larger cities (LA, Hollywood, etc.), which helps to widen one’s college experience, queer or not.

The Claremont Colleges Consortium share a 5C Queer Resource Center, located on the Pomona College campus, which provides resources, puts on events, and hosts workshops related to queer life on and off campus.

The Scripps Queer and Straight Alliance is called Family and is located in the Scripps Communities of Resources and Empowerment building on campus. Family is an eclectic mix of Scripps students, inclusive of all students, LGBTQ and straight, from all backgrounds. The environment at Scripps is extremely safe and friendly for queer womyn and our growing number of trans* students, who affectionately call themselves “Scripps bois.” Students have even voted to change their student government bylaws and constitution to reflect gender neutral language and have been consistently campaigning for gender neutral restrooms around campus.

The dating scene is iffy. Some people find that access to 5 other colleges creates a vast dating scene, while others think it’s still too small. There are long-term relationships and extremely quick hookups, as expected on college campuses, and so the dating scene really just depends on who/what you’re looking for.

There is a lack of diversity within the queer campus community. There are people who identify as femmes, butches, and bois, but trying to find people who self-identify as studs, AGs, butch dykes, or any other of those categories might be difficult.

The overall social scene isn’t bad. There will always be parties at one of the Consortium colleges and almost all of them are open to every campus. There is a growing population of students who refuse to attend events involving alcohol, so sober parties/events can be found campus-wide as well.

New queers at Scripps or any other Claremont College should find the QRC stat. Be friends with everyone in it. It is a friendly, welcoming, accepting and affirming space. Queer women of color should be on the lookout for Queer People of Color Brunches and monthly gatherings.

Nearby gay clubs include The Hookup, Oasis, Alibi East and Menagerie.

Fun Fact: One of Autostraddle’s March 2012 Calendar Girls goes here.

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Simmons College

Boston, MA

Student Population: 1,900 undergraduate, 3,000 graduate
Tuition: $30,520 (plus $12,050 room and board)
Acceptance Rate: 55% (2008)

Simmons College is a women’s college in Boston, which should instantaneously bring queer paradise to mind, obviously. It is very safe for LGBT people, including trans* men (hooray for gender neutral bathrooms!), especially with out queer people in the Public Safety Department. It’s especially safe for lesbians and queer women because we’re a women’s college. Since it’s small the dating scene can feel a little claustrophobic at times, but it’s easy to date people off campus. That way you don’t have to overhear gossip about yourself in the dining hall. There aren’t a lot of social activities on campus, but most everyone is friendly and when you make friends you can go have adventures in Boston!

LGBT groups include the Alliance, our GSA, and the Women’s Center, which partners up with other groups to put on The Vagina Monologues and other queer-friendly events. They are both pretty active and a lot of fun. Boston is also very gay friendly and there is plenty to do.

Tip: Take “Intro to LGBT Studies” when you get here. It’s enlightening and you’re guaranteed to make queer friends!
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Smith College

Northampton, MA

Student Population:2,500
Tuition:$39,800 (plus $13,390 room and board)
Acceptance Rate: around 50%

At Smith being queer is a non-issue. Most people don’t have to come out as queer – it tends to be something that is either assumed or met with as much surprise as if you stated your favorite color. This is not the case at some of the other “5 colleges” campuses. Your homosexiness may not be as respected and/or accepted at UMass Amherst and Amherst College.

Smith is located in Northampton, Massachusetts, which is an historically queer friendly place. At the peak of lesbian feminism in the 1970s, Northampton became a kind of lesbian Mecca. It was even dubbed “Lesbianville, USA” by a 1992 article in the National Enquirer. Northampton is a rare small city in which being queer is seen as the norm.

Active queer groups on campus include:

Queerz & Alliez, which is a general group for queer students.
Prism for queer students of color.
Femmepire for queer femme women, who often feel invisible within the androgyny of the queer population.
Transcending Gender, which is an organization for trans* students on campus.
+ And the radio station, which is basically a GSA.

Most queer organizations meet at the Resource Center for Sexuality and Gender, located in the basement of Wesley House. But due to the queer-friendly atmosphere at Smith most queer students don’t feel the need to participate.

The overall social and dating scene at Smith is very queer friendly and Smith isn’t divided along lines of sexuality; everyone is friends with everyone regardless of what floats your boat. Most Smithies are closest with members of their house (that’s what we call dorms), all of which are student-governed and have fun traditions. On the weekends, there is usually at least one college registered open-house party in the Quad. This is a good place for a queer lady to find a hook-up. The various student-of-color organizations also throw a lot of college-registered parties in the Campus Center, which generally draw more men (and straight Smithies). Due to the small size of the school, queer interactions can get a little incestuous and everyone knows your drama, but it’s a small price to pay for a little slice of third-wave heaven. In general, it is much easier for queer Smithies to find girlfriends, dates, or hook-ups than for straight Smithies to meet men.

To a new queer on campus, I would recommend Quad parties, the annual Drag Ball, Celebration, Diva’s (Northampton’s LGBT nightclub) and joining any club or organization that they are interested in, because they are certain to meet other queer Smithies anywhere they go. For any student, I recommend getting involved in your house community because you can truly make lifelong friends, queer or otherwise. I also highly recommend the Study of Women and Gender program (SWAG).

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Stanford University

Stanford, CA
by Zahra, AS Contributor

zahra

Student Population: 6,878 undergraduate, 8,441 graduate
Tuition: $37,380 (plus $11,463 room and board)
Acceptance Rate: 8%

Queer students have a good amount of visibility at Stanford. Stanford has an LGBT Community Resource Center (LGBT-CRC), where I worked for two years. It’s a particularly welcoming space for women, transgender individuals and people of color. The LGBT-CRC is home to queer student groups, which reflect the diversity of the community. Some student groups include Queer Straight Alliance, Stanford Students for Queer Liberation, Biversity, Black and Queer at Stanford, Queer and Asian, La Familia de Stanford (Queer Latin@s).

The Bay Area is really gay and Stanford’s location near San Francisco means that no one really bothers you if you’re queer. That being said, coming out here has its own challenges, including navigating the ins and outs of lesbian dating. Whether gay or straight, when asked about dating at Stanford, most students will probably roll their eyes and say that it doesn’t exist. Stanford students tend to hook up or be committed to something longterm and serious. In theory, there are a lot of queer women on campus to date. However, everything does get narrowed down by who slept with who, who’s out, who is best friends with whose ex, and—most importantly—who is actually attracted to who.

Stanford has a pretty decent social scene but it is a predominantly straight one. That’s not to say that it’s impossible to party as an out woman and have a good time—quite the contrary—but you will probably have to deal with more than a few men ogling you if you decided to go after a girl at a frat house. If you want to hang out with queer women, the best spots are the co-ops, non-greek row houses and smaller gatherings in dorms. We have a lot of fun and do pretty well for a bunch of overachievers. It’s a “work hard, play hard” kind of thing.

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St. Olaf College

Northfield, MN

Student Population: 3,156
Tuition: $36,800 (plus $8,500 room and board)
Acceptance Rate: 57%

St. Olaf College is a small(ish) liberal arts school located in Northfield, Minnesota. It’s a Lutheran school, affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America. For some people, the religious affiliation of a school can be a turnoff, given the overt politicization of the evangelical right, but St. Olaf is more than welcoming. The student congregation is listed as being Reconciling in Christ, meaning it accepts people of all sexual orientations with open arms. Outside of the religious part of campus, the school itself is extremely welcoming and accepting, with very few incidents of harassment. Northfield as a town is also friendly. The UU church in town has donated money to GLOW! in past years; there is also an active chapter of PFLAG that works with St. Olaf students.

St. Olaf has one specific club that can be classified as a “gay club.” Gay, Lesbian, or Whatever (GLOW!) is run by five coordinators, who are almost always a mixture of identifications. The club itself, however, is less of a social organization and more of an activist-driven club. It sponsors events such as OutFront Lobby Day, Pride Week, Coming Out Week, and Ally Week.

Actual social interaction can be derived from a few places. One is the St. Olaf Queer Support and Outreach House (STOQSO), which strives to create a cohesive queer community. The house, located just a few steps from campus, is a 24-hour safe space for queer students. They also host workshops, movie nights, and even toga parties. There is also an emerging women-only group run through the STOQSO House called Lesbians and Bis, including Allies (LABIA). It sponsors movie nights, parties, and offers resources to women looking to learn more about different aspects of the queer community both at St. Olaf and abroad.

For new queers on campus, the best thing to do is get involved. The first GLOW meeting of the year is a good social event. Many openly gay students attend to meet the newbies even if they aren’t active members of the club. And of course, being on the LABIA mailing list is a must. Other than that, be yourself and enjoy the community.

For more information about GLOW email glow [at] stolaf dot edu & for info on LABIA and/or STOQSO email barnes [at] stolaf dot edu.
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SUNY Purchase College

Purchase, NY
by Riley K

Student Population: 4,200
Tuition: $14,320 (plus $10,646 room and board)
Acceptance Rate: 25%

SUNY Purchase is a great place for queer students. Purchase isn’t a perfect place, and there’s still homophobia on campus, but it is one of the safest, queerest spaces I’ve ever been in. I never second-guess myself when I’m out around campus–walking with whomever I like, behaving however we like, talking about whatever we like, with no consequences or funny looks. I’m not involved with the GLBTU at all, but I am deeply involved in the gay scene on campus because it’s so easy to find, and so many of the students are queer that it takes no effort to find gay friends. Trust me, I didn’t try, it just happened! Sometimes it seems like your dating pool has disappeared, but someone new is always around the corner. All it takes is hanging out with a different friend for a day and you’ll definitely meet someone new. The oldest event on campus is our annual drag competition, Fall Ball, which has been the source of more than a few of my friendships. There’s usually an apartment that hosts the occasional Queer Party as well, always with exceedingly fantastic themes.

Beyond that, you don’t need queer events to find a queer scene–any casual gathering of students will do. If your freshman hall seems a little straight, just give it a few months and it will seem like half your dorm is queer. And everyone who isn’t queer is an ally. Let me repeat: everyone you meet is either queer or completely okay with your being queer. When you get tired of the scene (as the student body is extremely small) you can leave campus and meet people elsewhere. The campus is rather isolated in itself, but once you drive 5 minutes into neighboring White Plains, you can just hop a train into New York City.

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Temple University

Philadelphia, PA
by Laura, AS Contributing Editor

laura

Student Population: 39,000
Tuition: $23,642 to $28,906 depending on course of study
Acceptance Rate: 61%

The first thing you should know about Temple is that only freshman live “on campus.” If you’re looking for a big LGBTQ community that’s cohesive and active on campus, you’re not exactly going to find it here. There’s the Queer Student Union which does a good job of showing movies and celebrating national Coming Out Day, but they tend to get the biggest crowd during the first couple weeks of the semester (which I’m sure has nothing to do with everyone scoping out the new freshman and transfer students). As far as the university climate, I’d say it’s pretty easy to be out and getting easier as Temple takes steps (like the gender and sexuality survey conducted last year) to embrace all the different types of diversity on campus. I’ve had ugly experiences in student health services, but from what I hear that’s not all that strange. The more you know! On the dark side, Women’s Studies, as well as most of the other interdisciplinary departments in the College of Liberal Arts, was recently collapsed into another department. On the bright side, African American Studies made it out of the budget cuts unscathed!

And now for the other 8 (eek!) to 22 (also eek!) hours of you day that you spend outside of school. The housing situation isn’t all bad news. Lots of students opt for cheap apartments along bus lines in Center City, South Philadelphia, and Northern Liberties. With students from Temple, UPenn , and Drexel living throughout the city, the city is your oyster. There’s lots going on in the gayborhood–Stimulus is a monthly party that is remarkably successful and diverse–but Philadelphia’s gayness isn’t limited to just the area around 13th and Walnut. It’s a small city, but it’s got a whole lot of queer per capita (caveat: Philly’s also more hip per capita than most cities so be prepared to play lots of games of “hipster or gay?”). You’re just as likely to run across a kindred spirit at First Fridays as you are at OutFest. If Temple’s where you end up and you just can’t handle another intensely sweaty underage night at Woody’s, I’m sure the Philadelphia Autoteam would be thrilled to show you around.
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Tufts University

Medford, MA

Student Population: 9,658 (5,150 undergraduate, 4,508 graduate)
Tuition: $40,664 (plus $12,202 room and board)
Acceptance Rate: 35%

The environment is super PC and supportive of LGBT students. The president’s house and many of the frat houses flew rainbow flags for pride. Tons of resources for queer students, gay visibility and super liberal kids. I can only count a handful of times I’ve heard anything antigay all year . . . as opposed to the handful of times a day I would hear haters in high school.

However, all the happy gayness is very male-focused. There are a handful of pretty visible queer girls but compared to the boys we’re a tiny group. If you want to meet girls you definitely have to put yourself out there and ask around to see if that chick with the fauxhawk is just a hipster or not.

As for the dating scene, the Tufts ourchart is very complex. Gay girls at Tufts are less likely to go for a random hookup and more likely to try to turn a drunken makeout session into a full-blown relationship.

The overall social scene is pretty varied but I would say that Tufts kids are generally very nice and there is less douchey behavior than on an average college campus. Some people claim it can get boring and complain about the parties but I think those people don’t get off of campus enough or are stuck in one social group.

There is a QSA and a LGBT center! Tons of people attend at the beginning of the year. By the end there were probably about seven people. So there’s that. But the discussions we had were usually very good and productive.

To meet people definitely show up to the first few QSA meetings AND go to girl’s rugby parties. That’s where the girls are (hope you’re not scared of full body contact). There are usually some queer speakers on campus at some point and there is a big Coming Out Day celebration. Also take one of the classes that Tufts offers like “queer pop music”.

The community is very accepting. Boston is lovely and there are lots of cute Harvard and MIT girls. Also there is a cafe called Diesel in Davis square (10 minute or so walk or 5 minute shuttle ride away) with Chai, gluten-free cookies and hot dyke baristas.

If queerfabulosity is at the top of your list, I’d definitely take a look at Tufts! Check out all the upcoming campus events.

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Tulane University

New Orleans, LA
by Chloe, AS Writer

chloe

Student Population: 7,803 undergraduate; 4,819 graduate
Tuition: $43,434 (plus $10,820 room and board)
Acceptance Rate: 26%

When pondering how to describe Tulane’s LGBTQ environment, the first word that springs to mind is “diffident.” Tulane is primarily attended by upper-middle-class, white, moderate-liberal heterosexuals. But my peers responded to my coming out with nothing but support. Nobody thought it was a big deal, I’ve never been subjected to any kind of homophobia/hate on the Tulane campus.

Tulane has a GSA but I never joined or even attended a meeting–it was mostly men, and I prefer to spend my free evenings at happy hour, not extracurriculars. I only encountered a few other LGBTQ women at Tulane and it often seemed like there was no one else but me. Then again I spent three years in the Greek system, so there may be more lurking about in different social circles. The greek system is pretty fucking straight. Obvs.

But the city of New Orleans — that’s a different story. New Orleans epitomizes the mindset of “you do you.” Want to be gay? You do you. Want to crack open a 40 while walking down the street? You do you. Want to commit a felony? You do you. Want to walk down the street nibbling on some girl’s ear and chugging a 40 while planning to commit a felony? YOU DO YOU. Nightlife exists but can be hard to find– you need to put effort in. Lesbians can commonly be found at special nights several times a week, monthly grrrlspot events, the oh-so-bohemian bywater/marigny, ladies arm wrestling tournaments (SO AWESOME), and rollerderby games.

On a final note, my four years at Tulane were fan-fucking-tastic and I never would want to have gone somewhere else.

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University of Alabama

Tuscaloosa, AL

Student Population: 30,232
Tuition: $4,300 to $10,950 (plus $5,700 room and board)
Acceptance Rate: about 60%

When you think of the University of Alabama, you probably think of one thing and one thing only: football. It’s what everyone knows us for, but what most people don’t know is that we also have a fairly large queer community.

The campus and the surrounding bubble are relatively safe for LGBTQ+ students, though I don’t think that necessarily translates to being friendly, at least not at all times or under all circumstances. However, when you get outside of the area immediately around campus it is even less safe. Queer women are definitely subject to less aggression than queer men, and of course the feeling of safety declines even further for our trans* students. However, the progress we have made for our trans* students includes a comprehensive list of gender neutral bathrooms all across campus, and a preferred name field on our website, making it possible for all students to list the name they would prefer their instructors address them by. The university has a non-discrimination policy that includes sexual orientation, but we are still working on getting gender identity and expression included.

The only time you might not feel completely safe on campus is during a game day when there are lots of non-students on campus or around the older Greek organizations. Some fraternity houses are still dealing with issues of racism. Homophobia isn’t even on their radar. This is not to say that ALL traditional Greek organizations at UA are unfriendly. They can sometimes give off that a heteronormative vibe, but last year, our GSA hosted a discussion called “Gays and Greeks” to discuss this issue and we realized that we stereotype them just as much as they stereotype us. And there are a couple of multicultural sororities that are openly welcoming to queer women.

The dating scene is kind of lackluster. There are a lot of people that aren’t fully out or just don’t feel the need to participate in any queer-related educational or social events. In my experience it seems as though a lot of the queer community here is looking for casual, semi-discreet fun. To find a girlfriend, rather than a hook-up, try Spectrum meetings. Spectrum hosts academic discussions, movie nights and game nights, as well as a lot of events in October for Queer History Month, including an event called “Coming Out on the Quad.” Spectrum also has a presence in the homecoming parade and in the Birmingham Pride parade every year. Check out Spectrum is what we’re saying: spectrum [at] ua dot edu.

For off-campus solicaizing:

+ There’s a white male oriented gay bar
+ A Tuscaloosa chapter of PFLAG
+ Several queer-inviting churches, including Canterbury Episcopal Chapel, and University Presbyterian Church.
Central Alabama Pride festivities and parade
+ And people often make the hour-long drive to Birmingham to visit are a few more bars/clubs like Club 21,  QuestJoe’s, and Our Place

On-campus support relevant to your interests:

+ The faculty equivalent of Spectrum is the Capstone Alliance. Grad students can be involved in either or both.
+The Safe Zone program trains students and faculty who wish to be more knowledgeable about and sensitive to LGBTQ+ issues.
+ UA even made and an It Gets Better video.
The Women’s Resource Center hosts a Brown Bag Lecture series, which often speaks to the issues faced by queer women.

UA definitely has a lot going on (at least more than people seem to expect) and there are a lot of opportunities to get involved. It’s not a perfect environment, but there are a lot of people working to make it better.
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University of California – Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz, CA
by Megan

Student Population: 14,888 undergraduate, 1,444 graduate
Tuition: $12,732 (plus 14,172 room and board)
Acceptance Rate: 65%

UC Santa Cruz is the most beautiful place to go to college and home to some of the most beautiful queer women I have ever seen. On any given day, you will observe about a dozen dread-locked lesbians sipping on organic teas, trying to figure out on which part of their messenger bags to put their HRC sticker.

As a student of the Feminist Studies department, I was taught that “sex is what’s in your pants, gender is what’s in your head and sexuality is what’s in your heart”. That is the perfect way to sum up Santa Cruz’s collective community ideology. The Zami co-op in downtown Santa Cruz is a gender queer co-op that promotes trans* awareness as well as community activism and sexual education. Plus it’s home to some of the hottest genderqueer shes, hes and xes and the rent is cheap. Oh, and they have naked paint parties.

I am personally involved in the nation’s first and only (that I know of) gender-neutral queer frarority (fraternity + sorority, get it?). Basically our goal is to queer Greek life on our campus and promote more gender neutral activities. This last year, we were able to get the Fraternities and Sororities on campus to make the Greek-Week dodgeball game gender neutral.

Santa Cruz is the place you go when you want the queer subculture you live in to be the dominant one. It is also probably one of the only college campuses where, “Hey beautiful, what’s your PGP,” is an appropriate pick up line. The queer community here is effortless because for most people, it is just life as usual.

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University of Connecticut

Storrs, CT

Student Population: 21,881 undergraduate, 8,153 graduate
Tuition: $10,416 to $26,880 (plus $10,552 room and board)
Acceptance Rate: about 55%

The main thing about UConn is that it is HUGE. The plus side of going to such a big school is that there are about eight million clubs and other social activities for you to participate in! UConn has Cultural Centers at the Student Union to promote diversity. Centers relevant to your interests are the Rainbow Center and the Women’s Center. These centers exist to create a safe space– everyone is welcome! The Rainbow Center has FREE COOKIES AND TEA every Friday. The Women’s Center has lots of queer girls on staff, naturally, and it is a very supportive and nurturing environment. The Rainbow Center and the Women’s Center run all sorts of support groups and social events for queers. The awesome thing about the school being so big is that there is MORE THAN ONE group of queers. Some groups focus on violence against women, others fight for marriage equality and others plan awesome parties, like the Drag Ball. The balance of political and social clubs is really cool.

I almost always felt safe at UConn. There was the occasional catcall or creepster boy, but, tragically, that happens every/anywhere. And one time a student made me feel uncomfortable in class by making a derogatory comment about lesbian sex. The professor was super supportive and worked with me to reach a solution. I had a few queer professors, who were all awesome and great role models. I got to take a queer literature course, and the one of the heads of Student Mental Health Services is queer! There is a lot of support on campus for queer folk, and even though I heard the occasional bigoted comment, right before I graduated, an out queer activist was voted Homecoming King!

As far as dating goes, I managed to get my heart broken a few times, so I guess that is about right for the college experience.

UConn is in the middle of nowhere, and there is no town around it. It’s just you and the university. But I managed to be taught by queer professors, read books by queer authors, work with queer students, and make friends (and make out) with other queer folk. Not bad!

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University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill

Chapel Hill, NC

Student Population: 18,500 undergraduate, 11,000 graduate
Tuition: $7,008 to $26,834 (plus $9,470 room and board)
Acceptance Rate: 17% (2010)

UNC is an extremely LGBT-friendly environment. There are lots of queers on campus and our LGBT population is extremely visible. This is due, in part, to GLBTSA (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Trans, and Straight Alliance) and their efforts to spread acceptance through events like Ally Week, our bi-annual drag show, and other social activities. They also participate in LGBT events in the surrounding community, such as the pride parade in Durham.

Through the LGBTQ Center on campus we also have a special gay graduation ceremony, peer support groups, weekly support dinners for trans* or gender questioning people, and many more events. The University even has a policy of gender neutral language– for example, we have “First years,” not freshmen. Though one normally wouldn’t think of North Carolina as a queer-friendly place, UNC and the Triangle (Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill) are definitely very accepting.

Although it sometimes seems like LGBT life at UNC is dominated by gay men (like everywhere else), we have our fair share of things for queer women. If you’re looking for a date, you should probably just stop by a women’s rugby game, attend a “gay night” at a club off campus or drive about a mile down the road to the town of Carrboro. Once there you’ll want to make your way to the Weaver Street Market, an organic food co-op, where you’ll spend 99% of your time asking yourself if that cute girl is a hipster or lesbian. (HINT: She’s probs a lesbian.) The bars in Carrboro are also great places to meet girls. And Duke is just 8 miles away so that helps in the dating department because they, too, have a good queer scene.
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University of Michigan – Ann Arbor

Ann Arbor, MI

Student Population: 41,924
Tuition: $12,263 to $36,675 (plus $9,192 room and board)
Acceptance Rate: 50%

The University of Michigan – Ann Arbor is essentially a Mecca for LGBTQA-Z students. While there will always be exceptions, as a whole, the city of Ann Arbor and U of M are unbelievably supportive and accepting of our community. As a clearly gay, 5-foot-nothing girl on this campus, I’ve never felt attacked, unsafe or ostracized. I’ve never felt hesitant to hold my girlfriend’s hand while walking down the street or avoided talking about my significant other in classroom settings. I’ve had many gay professors and with classes taught by the greats of queer scholarship (David Halperin, Gayle Rubin), and classes like “Intro to LGBTQ Studies,” you will never feel alone.

The dating scene here is complicated, but not all that difficult to navigate. The gay community is so spread out that it can be difficult to really find what you’re looking for, but there is no shortage of opportunities to try to find a fit because of how visible and out so many people are. You can find the entire spectrum of romantic intentions– from those that are looking for lifetime partners to those that are just looking to hook up.

The social scene varies as much as anything else. There is a great club and scene for queer students that includes, but is not limited to, two gay nights every week at the infamous Necto Nightclub, two a month at LIVE, frequent drag performances from the home-grown troupe Drag King Rebellion and the ever-fabulous Aut Bar. For those that don’t like to go out (or aren’t 21 yet) you can usually find a house party hosted by any number of the gay cliques on campus every Friday and Saturday night (don’t worry, we’re easy to find).

Campus life for queer students is amazing. There are many formally recognized gay clubs that really reach out to all corners of the UM population. We have clubs that focus on specific issues. Some are geared toward specific identities, such as BiLateral for bi students and their allies. Some are specific to majors, such as OutLaws or oSTEM (Out in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). The LGBT Commission of the Michigan Student Assembly addresses LGBT issues on campus. Involvement in these student organizations makes it easier to meet new people and make friends. Any and all gay friendly student organizations can be located through the Spectrum Center— the central office for LGBT students on campus. It’s the oldest office of its kind in the nation and just celebrated its 40th anniversary. Check out Gayz Craze in the beginning of the year. It’s a good introduction to everything organized and gay.
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University of Minnesota – Twin Cities

Minneapolis, MN

Student Population: 50,067
Tuition:$13,060 to $18,060 (plus $7,728 room and board)
Acceptance Rate: 48%

The University of Minnesota – Twin Cities is located in Minneapolis — the ‘gayest’ city in the country. With over 40,000 undergraduate students and 15,000 graduate students, it is easy to find your gay social niche on campus. But not only is UMN gay– it’s really fucking queer. Hence the name for the safe-space on campus: the Queer Student Cultural Center (QSCC). Incoming freshmen have an opportunity to live on an LGBT-inclusive floor called Lavender House. And the GLBTA Programs Office offers resources, information, and addresses concerns about the LGBT environment around campus.

In terms of ‘the scene’, there are plenty of queer ladies at UMN– it’s only a matter of finding them. There’s lots of ladies in the Gender Women and Sexuality Studies (GWSS), but gay ladies can be found in almost any department from art to engineering. The stereotypical Minneapolis queer lady has piercings and lots of bicycle gear. But don’t let that fool you, there are plenty of femme ladies to flirt with. Overall, UMN is very gay-friendly and it is a joy to be as out as you want with little to no social reaction.

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University of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, PA

Student Population: 10,394 undergraduate, 10,809 graduate
Tuition: $42,098 (plus $11,878 room and board)
Acceptance Rate: 14.3%

The queer social scene at UPenn is fairly overwhelmingly male, although with the new Queer Ladies group, a vibrant non-male scene is forming. The queer social scene as a whole, though, is quite robust, with lots of queer parties and events. It’s really easy to find the scene and jump in. The campus is LGBT-friendly, and becoming more T-friendly with time. Students have access to transgender healthcare through student health insurance, no extra charge. There is a lovely LGBT center on campus, open to anyone. There are a handful of queer organizations, and Lambda Alliance is the umbrella for those. There is Queer People of Color, J-Bagel (Queer Jews), Wharton Alliance (Business Queers), Allies, Queer Student Alliance, Queer Ladies at Penn, a Queer Nursing group, a Queer Athletics group, and I’m probably forgetting a few.

For the new lady queers, I’d definitely suggest checking out the QL@P group. They have movie nights and lunch hangouts. Or just saying “Hi” to one of the members is a great way to meet ladies. Also pop into the LGBT center and introduce yourself to Bob Schoenberg, who runs the place. Come to a meeting of any of the queer groups, and just start talking to people. For parties off campus in Philadelphia look downtown in the Gayborhood. Yes, it is actually called that.

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University of Washington

Seattle, WA

Student Population: 34,523 undergraduate, 11,592 graduate
Tuition: $10,346 to $27,830 (plus $9,771 room and board)
Acceptance Rate: 57.7% (2009)

The environment is fairly safe/friendly for queer students. My friends and I feel very safe on campus and I have never heard of anyone who had issues with violence or discrimination. There are also queer people in the student government (ASUW) as well as openly queer people in administration. The environment is not quite as friendly for trans* folks because UW doesn’t have gender neutral housing or a lot of gender neutral bathrooms yet and there is still some blatant transphobia on campus, but everyone is still pretty safe. There is a very large population of lesbians/queer women on campus. Sometimes 90% of the people at GLBT meetup will be women. There are lots of different groups of queer women. You’ve got the rugby players, the Gender, Women, and Sexuality majors, or, you know, both.

The Q Center provides a physical space for hanging out. It also hosts groups, puts on events, and advocates for the interests of queer students on campus. There is also an independent student group, Students Organizing for LGBTQ Equality, which focuses on queer activism around campus. The Gay, Bisexual, Lesbian, Transgender Commission is a student government group that holds weekly meetings and puts on events like the ASUW Drag Show, which is a MUST SEE!

Most queer students go to meetings or clubs relevant to their interests and end up developing a circle of friends from there, so I would definitely recommend going to a couple of meetings that you find interesting. UW is located in Seattle, which is quite queer-friendly. The university is located in an area known as the University District, which is good. Just a short bus ride away is Seattle’s gay neighborhood, Capitol Hill, which is has lots of queers, resources, bars, and events. The gay bar/club Neighbours, which is in Capitol Hill, offers one underage night per week as well as all ages after 2am on Friday and Saturday. It’s late, but its still a lot of fun.

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Vanderbilt University

Nashville, TN

Student Population: 6,831 undergraduate, 5,045 graduate
Tuition: $39,952 (plus $13,068 room and board)
Acceptance Rate: 16.3% (2010)

Gay life at Vandy is a B-. There are some resources on campus and Nashville is a good city, but the campus can seem very segregated between Greeks and non-Greeks. On top of that the non-Greeks are further segregated — the international students stick together, the smart kids never leave the library and you’ll want to seek out the drama/theater department for open-minded individuals.

There are more gay men on campus than girls. This past year a gay fraternity was organized and approved, but they’re small at around a dozen male members. I know of one trans* guy on campus. Most people seem supportive of him. Safety isn’t really an issue for LGBT students. I don‘t know of any bullying or attacks – no violence, just some good old-fashioned southern prejudice.

There is an LGBT resource center. It’s a small little building on campus, but a safe place to gather! They have lots of resources and information and they host lunches on Fridays!

Nashville has about three gay bars/clubs. Wednesday night is college night at “Play,” the largest gay dance club. There‘s no cover charge with any Nashville college ID. There’s a very cute gay bookstore with gifts and trinkets downtown. There‘s a great music scene; it’s mostly of country (obviously), but other good shows come. Tegan and Sara stopped by last spring!

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Vassar College

Poughkeepsie, NY

Student Population: 2,400
Tuition: $42,560 (plus $10,080 room and board)
Acceptance Rate: about 24%

The environment at Vassar is extremely safe and friendly for LGBTs. The liberal arts atmosphere breeds a certain sense of invincibility, where it’s nothing for one to be out not only among one’s peers but even with bosses and professors. I will say this: the gay male population is much more visible and represented, and to some degree, there is a struggle to find a space for queer women on campus.

The social scene is active, but dating can be . . . tricky. There is a lack of variety in ‘types’ of women and there are more women open to a queer experience than outright lesbians. Find a Drama major. It’s party central and a hotbed of queer activity.

We have several LGBT groups on campus. ACT OUT has been active in the fight to pass marriage equality in NY. There’s also the Queer Coalition of Vassar College, which has become a social club for the gay men, but we’re working to improve diversity. New queer students should check out those groups regardless. Visit the LGBTQ center. It’s a great place to study and socialize. They occasionally have free pizza!

If you want lesbian-specific activities, there is an all-women comedy group, which isn’t officially ‘gay,’ but, well, you’ll see. And keep a lookout for clandestine Queer Lady Parties.

Vassar is located in Poughkeepsie, which is not a very gay-friendly place. Once off the Vassar campus, people are often on guard. Students can hold hands on campus, but outside the gates some stares and maybe harassment is a possibility.
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Wellesley College

Wellesley, MA

Student Population: 2,300
Tuition: $39,420 (plus $12,284 room and board)
Acceptance Rate: about 36%

At Wellesley, you’ll never be the only gay in the room. It is a truly gay-friendly place. It’s common to see lady friends holding hands, or other forms of PDA, on campus without worrying about repercussions. Not only are you safe here, you are welcomed with open arms.

The gay scene on campus is great. Places to find like minded ladies:

+ The Hoop – The student-run co-op cafe in the campus center that makes the best nachos on the planet.
+ The Pub – You will ALWAYS find queer students here. You don’t need to be 21 to go in this pub and there’s a new theme every Thursday. If there’s one things gays love, it’s a THEME.
+ El Table – Another student-run co-op that makes sandwiches and sells delicious things in the basement of an academic building.
+The Shakespeare Society – A theatre troupe-like group that produces an all-female Shakespeare production every semester
+ And rugby – Duh!

We also have organizations specifically aimed at queer woman of color. At the beginning of the year, this groups will all advertise themselves to the student body with great zeal. You will find queer students in just about any organization you join. Join things. You will find the gays.

The dating scene is very good. I highly recommend it. You’ll get the inevitable awkward feeling that everyone has dated everyone else, but that comes with the territory of being gay in any social circle. Rest assured the pool of candidates is large enough that you will not be limited to dating your best friend’s ex.

There isn’t too much going on in the actual town of Wellesley, but I don’t know of anyone who has had any issues with being queer in town. There is a bus that goes directly from the campus into Boston. There you’ll find cafes, Trident bookstore and clubs. Most of the queer night club scene is 21+ only, and a lot of things close down around midnight because that’s when the public transportation stops. Boston has plenty going on, so no matter what you’re looking for, you’ll find it.

At times it seems as though the Administration is trying to keep a lid on the queer community; however, progress has been/is being made. A LGBTQ Advisor has recently been appointed. Her mission is to find out what our needs are and work with the Administration to meet those needs.

Baby queers should go to the Hoop, order some food and do some homework while listening to Tegan & Sara. Join an organization. Spectrum is an all-inclusive gay organization that runs events. They have a big sibling/little sibling program if you are looking for someone to show you the ropes. The campus is full of bois AND femmes, so don’t assume the lady sitting next to you is straight just because she has long hair and sports high heels. Keep a look out for “The Wellesley Chop,” our very own alternative lifestyle hair cut. And don’t miss the Dyke Ball. It’s the prom you wish you had!

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Yale University

New Haven, CT
by Brittani

Brittani

Student Population:5,279 undergraduate, 6,381 graduate
Tuition: $40,500 (plus $12,200 room and board)
Acceptance Rate: 7.5% (2011)

There are a lot of places to be gay. The grocery store, an amusement park, your house. Thus far, Yale has been my favorite. It’s a magical place and not just because Yalies like to pretend it’s Hogwarts. Affectionately known as ”The Gay Ivy” with a musical and admissions video to prove it, Yale provides a great environment to come to terms with the gay. Trying to figure things out or find some cute queers to study with? Take Gay and Lesbian History, taught by none other than one mother effing George Chauncey. You might remember him from the Prop 8 trial when he was a boss. Proof of his bossness? He goes to lunch with all the students that take his class to talk to them about the environment for queers at Yale. It’s a really fun, informative, and popular class that I wanted to do all the reading for. Doesn’t matter whether I did or not because it’s the thought that counts in these matters.

It’s a well-known fact that there are a few sure shot places to find queer women carrying on gaily amongst their peers. They include the Women’s Rugby Team and Yale Precision Marching Band. As for official groups, they fall under the LGBTQ Co-op umbrella which is responsible for many of the events, fellowships, and services that appeal to your gaymazing interests but are available to the entire Yale community. I never made it to a meeting but then again I didn’t attend a single Black Student Alliance meeting either. Naps needed to be taken. However, I did make it to many Pride Month, Trans Awareness Week, and Sex Week activities. Two of the more debaucherous events include Drag Ball and the Bad Romantics drag and burlesque show. Also worth mentioning are Sappho, a group for queer women, and Prism, a group for LGBTQ people of color. If you have some gay problems or you’re just a gay with problems, lean on Queer Peers who offer LGBTQQAA people help with their shit. We even have LGBTQ groups for grad students so I’ll have people to hit on when I go back to visit without feeling creepy. Yayyy for meeeee. Speaking of being an alum, I should look into joining GALA, our LGBT alumni network. I think this qualifies as gay-friendly. Or just really gay.

One of the best programs at Yale for incoming queers is the LGBTQ Peer Liaisons program. Peer Liaisons are third and fourth year students who help first year students adjust to campus life and connect with the LGBTQ community.

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267 Comments

  1. Hey everyone. Super late to the party here, but I am a senior in Alaska who is going to be applying to a lot of these schools in about a month. The schools I am seriously considering are Smith, Mount Holyoke and Bryn Mawr. I would really appreciate talking to some current students or alumni! If you would be willing to help a baby gay out, please just contact me on my twitter, @hypedyke. I would give out my email, but I don’t want to be super spammed..

    Thanks!

    • Hi Rowan!

      I’m a senior at Mount Holyoke and am very active in the queer scene on campus (and it really is a welcoming LGBTQ+ scene, not just gay and lesbian). I’d love to talk, if you’re still interested. I don’t have a twitter, but here’s my tumblr: corrupter-of-words.tumblr.com. Send me a question there with your email and whatever you’d like to know about and I’ll do my best to answer.

      Btw Autostraddle, I totally would’ve written about Mount Holyoke! I’m sorry I didn’t see your call for submissions.

  2. I am shocked- shocked!- that Agnes Scott College didn’t make this list.
    Reasons why it should have:
    1. All women’s school with a progressive trans policy
    2. Two queer groups at school: Ascend and Affinity (which address the needs of queer people of color)
    3. Numerous workshops about how to have sex queer sex, coming out while in colleges
    4. Dental dams are available at the health center

  3. Reading this article about a year after its posted, I doubt I will get responses.. but WHOEVER wrote that piece on university of michigan, I would love to have a conversation with you. I am an undergrad at university of michigan and its great to know there is a lesbian social scene, but honestly I cannot say that i’ve witnessed it for myself. Bare in mind I was in a long distance relationship for two years which gave me little motivation to go out and find it until now, but seriously, I can’t even say I’ve met more than 2 or 3 bi/lesbian girls here. Maybe I am in the wrong crowd at a big school, but I’d love to be clued in!

  4. Hey, I know this is article came out a while ago, but I was wondering if anyone knew anything about the LGBTQ scene at the University of Maryland College Park? I’m a senior in high school and I really wanted to go to a more gay college; I was accepted to several of the ones on the list (Brown, Cornell, American) but for financial reasons I have to go to UMD. Any advice? :)

  5. I was a lucky enough lezzi that I had enough scholarships to go to an ALL GIRLS private college(only for one year though, teachers weren’t my style). There were TONS of lesbians but, unfortunatly, not a lot of them wanted to be a part of the LGBT* group that was on campus (I was involved in it)…

  6. As a current Wellesley student, I can attest that our campus is truly queer-friendly. There is a “Women’s College Problems” tumblr and one of the posts is the following: “going from assuming everyone is straight to assuming everyone is gay.” 95% of my friends on & off campus are queer, so now that I’m home for the summer in my conservative, heteronormative town, I like to assume/ pretend everyone is gay. (Wow, I just realized how sad my current situation is…)

  7. Ah! I live in Connecticut (currently attending Manchester Community College) and I’m planning on transferring to UConn either next year or my junior year. I love love love the queer presence at UConn! The Rainbow Center is a wonderful place, and UConn also hosts the largest LGBT youth conference in the country, True Colors. I’ve been going since I was a babygay in my sophomore year of highschool, and it is an awesome time- there’s few places or events more open, accepting, and educational for queer kids. It’s thanks to them that I got a queer sex education, that I know how to make a packer on the fly, that I’m friends with so many awesome queers, and that I feel so comfortable and happy with myself.

    I don’t know what kind of budget or capabilities Autostraddle has for travel and appearances and stuff, but I think that a queer writing/media panel hosted by you guys would be well received at the conference! They’re always open to new presenters. I think it would be a great thing for Autostraddle to be involved in.

  8. Hey, baby dyke here. I was wondering if anyone here has gone to University of Texas? I’m considering it and I was wondering if anyone could tell me about what it’s like there. Thanks.

  9. i’m seconding the question about u texas–particularly austin. i kind of have a huge crush on it, but if its intensive queerness winds up being man-based or overly prep/bro-y, i’ll be massively sad.
    problems with being a nice jewish dyke from brooklyn with a major thing for southern accents…

  10. Yeah I’m one of those “shit you’re young” up and coming seniors… I feel really unwelcome now. I actually love this website and visit it daily. Now I feel like I’m not supposed to be here, and that’s not very cool of you.

  11. Aww. This is a fantastic list, and I’m really glad to see people on here helping out the young’ns. Though oof, the fees…the tuition and fees make my stomach all twisty. I do wish my alma mater, UMass Amherst, had made the list. It’s got a vibrant LGBT community.

  12. Dude this was so helpful. I’m trying to look at colleges that have my major, nutrition, and are also super lesbian friendly :P luckily I’ve found a lot of them. Any other suggestions from the commenter people?

  13. Pingback: The Lesbian Insider's Guide to 40 LGBT-Friendly College Campuses - Autostraddle - Diversity Employer

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