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09/07/2020 at 10:38PM
Admissions Advice
[edited]

Writing about sexuality/being LGBTQ in personal essays

I am thinking about writing my personal statement (or some aspect of my college essays) about the fact that I am part of the LGBTQ community, but I don’t know if it’s a good idea for a couple reasons….

1) Other than the fact that I’m queer, I’m a person of privilege (wealthy, female, white, good education) and I don’t want this to come off as me trying to play a minority card or seem like I’m searching for something to give me a college boost

2) I haven’t faced outright discrimination since I’m not out (except to my parents, who are kinda supportive, and friends), so even though my town is low-key homophobic and conservative I personally haven’t encountered much of it (except for one instance, which I wrote about in an op-ed that i published in the school newspaper)

3) LGBTQ issues are important to me as a person, but don’t make up a large part of my student identity and are not something I’m actively involved in with high school (both for safety and for college reasons); I’m in the GSA but it’s not really official so this doesn’t have any apparent tie-in to my college application

I am only applying to liberal colleges so I know this won’t negatively impact my admissions from a “homophobic AO” type situation but I don’t know if this would actually help me or be meaningful to my application / help the AO better understand me in any way. Any advice is greatly appreciated :)

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@arielUC2509/07/2020 at 10:56PM

I'm in a very similar situation as a nonbinary pansexual student. It honestly depends on how you frame it tbh. If you frame it as a sob story, it may look bad. However, if you talk about what your identity means to you and how you've come to terms with it, that could be an incredible story. Also make sure not to make the essay completely about your sexual orientation! Make it about your personal life, the culture that you were brought up with, and make sure to tie it to your personal qualities.

@arielUC2509/07/2020 at 10:58PM

For instance, I wrote about being enby in a UC Application essay. It was definitely framed as an overcoming adversity essay as I have deeply religious parents who don't tolerate anything LGBTQ+ related... but I made sure to also tie it to my personal qualities of seeing the best in people, optimism, etc.

[🎤 AUTHOR]@crsgo042209/07/2020 at 10:58PM

this is perfect, thank you! you can put this as an answer if u want so i can upvote hehe. i definitely have less of a struggle than you since i don’t have gender dysphoria/am not trans (although i did question for a little, and went through some mental loops w my gender identity and figuring that stuff out) so i really appreciate ur perspective!

[🎤 AUTHOR]@crsgo042209/07/2020 at 10:59PM

sorry that your parents are like that, how unfortunate that they’re so closed minded. i hope that all goes well w you and ur applications!

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2 answers

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11/24/2020 at 03:55PM

For anyone stumbling upon this question in the future, I wanted to provide some of my thoughts on this. It is definitely 100% OK to write about sexuality/being LGBTQ but you do want to be careful in how you approach it. Like @adri mentioned, it's important to consider how you frame the story. You need to consider word choice and tone carefully otherwise the story has potential to come off as a sob story or could been seen as "preachy".

When you write your essay you want to give the admissions officer an idea of who you are. Identifying as LGBTQ is part of that identity so you don't need to worry about playing a minority card because you're part of that minority. It doesn't matter if you're a person of privilege, it's still a part of your who you are. For your second point, you may not have faced outright discrimination at this point in time but I would bet that your views and experiences have still been shaped by being part of the LGBTQ community. Think about your experience of growing up in a conservative town, coming out to family, or something similar. For the 3rd point, you can still talk about why LGBTQ issues are important to you even if you haven't participated much in terms of school activities. You mentioned writing an article for the paper, you're part of the GSA (even if it is unofficial), and you can explain your lack of activity because you were concerned for your safety.

A final point I want to make is that, just because you're applying to liberal schools, it doesn't mean you still shouldn't be concerned about a "homophobic AO" or that it won't negatively impact your decision. While I think it's definitely reasonable to be less concerned about any impact on your admission it's not impossible for it to still have an impact. Being an admissions officer is just a job. Just because someone works at a liberal school doesn't necessarily mean they agree with all the values at the school. Just something to consider is all. At the end of the day it's probably worth including this in your essay, at least in some aspect, because it will give the AO a better idea of who you are and that's what they're looking for in the essays.

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09/08/2020 at 12:23AM

I think that it is definitely something you should include. If you're using the Common Application to apply, maybe don't base your personal essay on your queer identity, however, it is part of your identity. Although I understand where you're coming from about being privileged, white, etc, it is part of you. Keeping this in mind, I would never tell anyone to write their main personal essay on one topic; it is good to have a variety of topics, blended together with a common theme. So, if this fits into one of your essays, certainly include it. Or, if you have any supplemental essays about a community you belong to, this is an excellent example. But I agree you need to balance it right, so it doesn't seem like a sob story. Similarly, don't make it a large part of your essays if there's nothing major in your extracurriculars that prove you're actively involved. (Ex. founder of a club, active in the community, etc.) I would certainly include it if you feel it has shaped your high school experience. That being said, you should definitely not base your decision on whether or not you will be discriminated against in the AO...because at the end of the day, if a college doesn't want you for you, you don't need to go there! There are so many options. Hope this helps!

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