<p>Even before the /It Gets Better Project/ launched in 2010, universities
were portrayed as places where LGBT+ youth could be happy and free from
the bullying and social isolation that often characterizes their lives
in school and at home. Of course, even a casual glance made it obvious
that students likeMatthew Shepard faced brutal violence, and that
students like Tyler Clementi committed suicide after being harassed.
These two ideas about university life for LGBT+ students make up what I
call the /Happy Normal/ and the /Suicidal Exception/: generally,
university life is a great experience characterized by liberation and
acceptance, but a few isolated lives still end in tragedy. This paper
draws on both original research conducted in the US and related
literature to argue that these understandings are far too simplistic.
Students today have many new opportunities for support, community, and
relationships. However, they also experience a stunning array of
harassment and hostility that has negative effects on their academic
study as well as their health and well being. Most never become the
tragic victim we see in the media. Instead, they live on, they s/urvive/
in the truest sense of the word, going to class, to work, to the store.
Their lives, most LGBT+ student lives, are unintelligible within the
paradigm of the /Happy Normal/ and the /Suicidal Exception/.</p>