Oxford, in full colour

Francesco Morettini (MSc Global Governance and Diplomacy) on a year of inspiration, glitter and change in Oxford’s LGBTQ+ community.

Blossom on Queen’s Lane | Photograph by Francesco Morettini (MSc) via Instagram

“When I first set foot in Oxford, I felt like a small boat suspended on the strong currents of a vast sea. Changing places, moving, meeting new people and starting a new course at one of the most prestigious universities in the world felt like a huge challenge, maybe an insurmountable one.

I felt, at times, overwhelmed by the grandeur.

Still, my early fears were soon transformed into a desire to explore. The easy smiles of so many other students made me feel part of a warm and welcoming community — a little village.

For this reason, I decided to gather some courage and run for the position of LGBTQ+ representative at my college, Kellogg College — a role that did not actually exist at the college at the time. It turned out to be one of the best decisions I have ever made.

In becoming a member of Oxford’s LGBTQ+ community, I’ve had the chance to meet incredible people, make new friends and enjoy the glittery, vibrant side of Oxford’s colourful, rainbow life.

“After my paper on International Diplomacy (terrorised by the incessant dramatic buzz of a potentially deadly bee, please someone save me) I came out of the Examination Schools (alive!) and was met by the radiant smiles and laughter of my friends, who covered me in colourful (strictly biodegradable!) confetti and glitter.”

LGBTQ+ life in Oxford

My experience of Oxford is that you can be yourself. No one will judge you for who you are, for what you believe, or for whom you love.

In fact, it’s the very university that pushes you to reflect on yourself, and what you take for granted; it pushes you to experience in fullness.

Walking hand in hand with your partner through the old, cobbled alleys, surrounded by the dreaming spires, reflecting about life and admiring the beauty of the Oxford colleges is an experience that you cannot live anywhere else — and that, like me, you can never forget.

Tuesdays are special days for the University’s LGBTQ+ community — ‘Tuesgay drinks’ are held in a different college each week, offering an occasion to discover the university, make new friends and enjoy some dance moves in Plush, Oxford’s queer club.

You’ll always find someone to talk you into going to Plush; you can’t miss the drag queens leaving a trail of glitter to mark the way to the club! (Sooner or later, you will end up dancing on the pole, I guarantee it.)

One of the events that really marked my time at Oxford was the ‘Wrecking Ball’, which I organised together with friends at Kellogg. Unicorns, rainbows and flamingos flooded into the college as part of the effort to fundraise for the LGBTQ+ victims of persecution in Chechnya. With this bop (a very Oxford word for party) in collaboration with Plush, we ended up fundraising around £540 for ILGA Europe, the biggest LGBTQ+ rights NGO in Europe.

It was an unforgettable night, not only for all the fun and laughter but also because it really demonstrated the support that Oxford students gave to the cause and to the LGBTQ+ community as a whole.

Oxford can change you

Coming to the University has challenged my perspectives and made me grow up as a person. It is not necessarily even what you study, but with whom: you learn so much not just by reading and preparing essays, but by discussing with your friends and peers — in class, over a cup of tea, just walking around the city.

The people I’ve met this year are truly incredible, and I felt part of a team with my course mates. I have met friends who can paint beautifully, have written movies, speak eight languages, helped migrants in their lives — inspiring me to do more, and engage more.

This is the unicity of Oxford, the vibrant atmosphere and community of scholars that know how to both study hard and enjoy life.

And as part of the LGBTQ+ community, Oxford made me feel welcome and respected as a person, because I found so many people like me that share the same passion and attitude to bringing a positive impact to the world, fighting for equality and for the human rights of LGBTQ+ people.

“During Pride Month, many colleges fly the rainbow flag. Seeing them made me feel welcome and loved, as the flags are there to show that Oxford doesn’t care about your gender, your sexual orientation and whom you love. The flags show not only that you need to accept who you are, but also be especially proud of it — fly high, and just like those flags, show your true colours!”

Oxford taught me that making a change is not as difficult as it seems; it is, rather, a tangible possibility, because you will find friends that support your cause and want to fight and challenge stereotypes and preconceptions alongside with you.

Thinking of applying?

If I were to give a piece of advice to applying students, I would say this: before coming to Oxford, stop and think about what you want to achieve in your time at this university.

Time runs at a faster pace here and the opportunities for growth are almost infinite.

To harvest, you need to understand what seeds to plant. To arrive, you need to understand from where to leave. And so, think: think about your studies, but also about social activities, making new friends, visiting new places, exploring your desires and fighting for the causes you believe in.

Engage, and engage with all your heart in whatever you do, whether by studying for your degree, or giving some of your time to organising LGBTQ+ events and raising awareness about the causes you support.

At Oxford, you’ll always find someone to share your journey. Along the way, you will realise that getting a degree is only one of the aims of your life here, and only a departure point in your life. In the end, no matter the scepticism you might have had, Oxford has a lot to give you.

Only after you leave this enchanting city will you realise that, for you, this place will always be home.”
“This year gave me a precious gift, to experience the enchantment of Oxford in the snow. Cloaked in white, Oxford seems completely changed; everything becomes even more silent and calm. Seeing the dreaming spires wrapped in snow is truly unforgettable; and this picture will remain one of my strongest memories.”

Pride of Oxford

There are over 20,000 exceptionally talented individuals studying at Oxford, including our 10,000 graduate students, and the University aims to offer a supportive and welcoming environment for the tremendous diversity represented in this community.

If you’re considering joining the University community and want to know more about support for LGBTQ+ students, you might want to start with the LGBTQ+ Society website — you can also read more from LGBTQ+ staff and students here on Medium via Oxford University: