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It's more randy camp than feisty campaigning out on campus these days as Adrian Gillan discovers when he goes back to college.

"We used to get guest speakers in but everyone found them boring," confides Karen, outgoing President of Liberation, my old Lesbian, Gay & Bisexual (LGB) Society at King's College London. "So it is more a social thing now - people just want to go out and party!"

There are trained professional college counsellors at King's and a dedicated LGB Welfare Union Officer. However, for young 'freshers' new to it all, socialising at Liberation is their main support. Karen enthuses: "People come along for their first meeting saying, 'I'm so pleased I've found you!'"

They don't do debates or talks here any more like they used to back in my day, in the mid-nineties. So are students less radical today? Have all the battles really been won?

They don't do debates or talks here any more like they used to back in my day, in the mid-nineties. So are students less radical today? Have all the battles really been won?


Just the sort of room-mate you dream of in your first year in a Hall of Residence.
"Militancy is a bit clichéd," asserts incoming President Alex with typical frankness and the shameless surety of youth. "There are almost no issues left worth making a fuss about. I think the main reason so few gay students actually go to their LGB is an unfounded fear of it being 'militant'. The truth is we're mainly middle class and apathetic!"

SAFE SEX

"And we don't do any safe sex talks here either," Alex gushes, completely confounding the alarming statistics on the rise in student STDs. "We did all that at school and it was not a pleasant experience."

So, just one long round of drinking, dancing and shagging nowadays is it - an orgy of LGB inbreeding?

"That's kind of died down after the 'Adam saga'," claims Alex after a recent bout of rampant internal shagging. "He went round everybody, and then everybody got annoyed. Most people use the society as a launch pad to get off elsewhere now and not so much to pull within the group."

And it's not just sex according to Karen: "I do know of two girls who met some time ago through Liberation and are still together now as a couple."

But despite the constant partying and the heaps of love and sex, there clearly still are some perennial issues. "Our publicity officer had just put a poster up," relates Karen, "when she saw the cleaner taking it down - all the other posters were still up, but they'd just binned the LGB one. When confronted, they were naturally embarrassed. We're fairly sure about the Islamic Society too."

Liberation often joins forces with other LGB's that flourish in London, notably at University College and the London School of Economics. And like most LGB's, it exists primarily for the students. However friends, and friends of friends, are always welcome, as are staff if they don't mind letting their hair down and risk getting caught up in student scandals.

"A lot of people, especially in the first couple of weeks, like to come with a friend," explains Karen, "though I think we've had a couple of people come along who aren't anything to do with anyone at the university. You'd soon pick up on older guys just coming along to prey."

KINGKY

But us oldies aren't completely left out in the cold! Ambitious party animals that they have increasingly become, Liberation are now promoting events open to all. Monthly 'Kingky' is billed as 'London's new student gay night', though everyone is welcome to savour its heady mix of youthful hormones and cheap drink.

Ah those student days! In truth, things haven't changed all that much really. I well remember the same guilt-free mid-week clubbing and, of course, the same timeless collection of characters that make up the group - the flamboyant social secretary, the serious organiser, the resident slag, the petting young couple full of the first joys and the blushing new boy about to lose his cherry.

These shiny, happy people are as oblivious to their predecessors like me, as their successors will in turn be of them five years hence, when they've all left to get proper jobs as destined. Once gone, it makes you realise how much you took it all for granted at the time - just as it should be, living for the moment.

For details of student LGB societies in the UK visit www.galha.org.

 

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