Sophia James

  • University was the place where I finally gained the ability to embrace every part of myself and I became aware that the LGBT community can be a source of strength, support and - most of all - pride.

    I manage a project which aims to raise aspirations and increase the number of students attending university from non-traditional backgrounds. I’m passionate about building a more equal society and ensuring that every young person has the opportunity to access education.

    As a first year student I didn’t feel able to talk about my sexuality. Difficult experiences at home and school had rendered it impossible for me to be open about being a bisexual woman. My university LGBT society hosted a coffee hour every lunchtime where LGBT students could meet other people and enjoy their lunch in a safe and friendly environment. I walked past that door, every single week, for the entirety of my first year. Eventually a friend took pity on me and dragged me in. Within weeks, I had joined the society, becoming a regular member and openly standing for LGBT and Equality and Diversity positions in the student union elections. University was the place where I finally gained the ability to embrace every part of myself and I became aware that the LGBT community can be a source of strength, support and - most of all - pride.

    I’m not sure what would have happened to me if I hadn’t ever made it into that room but I know I wouldn’t be the person I am today. In the wider world, being a black, bisexual woman can truly be a challenging experience and I’m grateful I had a member of the LGBT society to guide me. Since that time, I’ve become much more comfortable about my sexuality. I haven’t experienced any negative responses at Brookes and I’m hopeful that the constant development of LGBT rights across the world is a cause for celebration. So whether you’re applying for a job, studying or heading into some other uncharted territory… don’t be afraid to step through that door.