April 19, 2010

Anonymous Posts
(4.12.10-4.18.10)

Every week, we collect anonymous entries sent in using the link on our sidebar and post them all on Monday. We post anything as long as it doesn't contain personal attacks or hate speech. Feel free to submit your thoughts and questions :)

So. Much. To. Discuss.

First off, we all know that GLEE returned last week. It was okay? Jonathan Groff is marginally attractive at best with his hair like that (fellow Spring Awakening alum Matt Doyle remains infinitely awesomer and my husband). Also, can we just delete Schuster and Emma's plot line in its entirety? Let's just get rid of it. It is tedious, repetitive and does not involve Kurt, Mercedes or Sue Sylvester. It would also mean we would hear much less of Schuster's singing, which is something that we can all agree is a very good thing. The Best Thing.

Songs that have hello in them is also an insanely lame theme. I propose that "Telephone" be the key word in a future episode. #amiright?

Also, we got a RANGE of anonymous posts this week. Please respond to as many as you can, and make sure that every entry gets a comment. It's superimportant, especially with this batch, y'all. I know that normally I comment on the posts within this post, but I've been told that's sort of pretentious. Maybe! Obviously, I never meant to make my commentary or advice any sort of official response because I am an idiot 21 year old that is an idiot and 21 years old. It should trump the opinion of no one. I really just wanted to thank everyone officially on behalf of the Staff for sending something in. But maybe! I do not want to risk anything! So Imma put everything in the comments section from now on. My name's Chris for all of y'all that don't know :)

Ok. Let's do this.

#1
I am disgusted by gay people and I don't want to be. I know a few gay people and think of them as my friends, but inside I just can't shake this revulsion. I have the most respect for those who stay in the closet even though I know it's not healthy for them to do that. Sometimes I think it's really insensitive of me to harbor these feelings of disgust, but at least I keep them inside and don't show my revulsion outwardly. How can I possibly be accepting of gays when in my experience here at Duke, it only seems like they're trying to get attention any way they can? I'd love to meet just one gay person who isn't flamboyant as hell and seems sincere to me. Otherwise I just think that homosexuality is a bid for attention. Like I said, I don't want to feel this way. I just don't know how to feel differently.

#2
I don't know how I feel about homosexuality but evolutionarily it doesn't make any sense. Can someone explain to me from an evolutionary perspective, how does homosexuality exist? Survival of the fittest generally means that those who don't reproduce get eliminated.

#3
Really liked the Day of Silence posters on campus. They meant less when I saw the people on the posters talking on Friday.

#4
I am always lonely, always hurting, even when I'm with my friends; when I hurt too much inside, I hurt myself. It would be better if I could show who I truly am, but I can't. I think that people only like me because I'm funny, but I'm only funny because I'm too scared to let them know how hard it is to get through every day. My humor is a mask. I started to come to the Center in hopes that I would somehow find the courage to really be myself, or to ask for help. And sometimes I manage to open up for a little while. But it's never enough, and as soon as I leave I put the mask back on.

#5
BDU, thank you for being silent. Thank you for saying everything by saying nothing at all. In my humble opinion, Friday's DOS was a huge success. The many posters that hung around campus for both DOS and the no homo(phobia) campaign sent an immensely powerful message to the Duke student body. I can imagine that many of you who were silent on Friday wondered if it was 'worth it'. Did this day of silence accomplish anything? Can our message be heard if we aren't saying anything? Will we see change on our campus because of our actions? You can rest assured, BDU, you were successful: I heard you.

I walked around campus on Friday completely humbled. You who are already brave and confident enough to live your lives out loud are willing to stand up for those who are not as strong as you. You fight against injustice, stigma, hateful words, and outright cruelty for people you don't even know. Through your silence, you stand in solidarity with someone in one of your classes, someone you've eaten dinner with occasionally, someone you pass on the plaza, someone you sit next to on the C1 every week. You give hope and strength to those who are silenced every day out of fear. Fear of rejection, fear of prejudice, fear of the truth. Your increasing presence on our campus is a daily reminder to the silent that there is a community ready and waiting to accept them with open arms when they are ready to speak. So thank you, BDU, for your participation in DOS. Thank you for being silent for me.

#6
Frustration.

Well, that's not really a good word to describe how I feel. Upset. Depressed. Angry. Overwhelmed, maybe? Terribly...sad. Eh, let's stick with frustrated.

The center is a great place. It's full of great people, great resources, and great events. But mostly great people.

The rest of the world. Is. Not.

It’s really hard sometimes, when you hang in the Center a lot, and all of your friends are friends of the Center, and your life really doesn't function very much outside of the Center. Then, it's really hard sometimes when you can't go to Center, when you have to present yourself to the rest of the world. I feel vulnerable, weak. Terribly exposed. Naked, even. But at the same time...cold. Sheltered, Isolated. Fortfied. By this wall that I build around myself when I'm not sure how you feel about me and my sexuality. When I hear your slurs and your comments, and when I let out my chuckle that's so fake it's awkward, mentally I'm cementing another brick onto my wall that I've built between me and you. And the world. Until, I've got so many bricks that I can't get out. What started out as a way to protect myself from you has now trapped me inside.

And let me tell you, it's real dark.

I can hear my own heart beating, louder than the muted sounds of life that are going on outside of this prison. Sometimes, I'd like to scream and see if anyone could hear me, but even if they heard would they know it? I grab a sledgehammer and try to break through these thick walls. I swing and smash and watch as the cement blocks turn to dust. Only now, the sledgehammer has become a razor, a pistol, alcohol, hydrocodone, and the dust is now my body, my spirit, my will, my MOTIVATION. Because I see infinitely more blocks behind that one.

All I can say is, thank God for the Center.

What do I do when I can't go there anymore? I think I am suffocating.

#7
See separate post.

#8
I know this is a recurring theme on the blog, but I feel like venting, so here goes. I guess I feel very lonely at Duke, not because I lack friends, because I don't, I have a fantastic group who are close to me. It stems more from the fact that after being here for a few years and I still haven't had a meaningful relationship. Every time I see the couples who are involved with the center, both male and female identified, I feel a pang of envy. Many of them seem so content and comfortable in each other's presence, which is fantastic and I'm really happy for them. My overriding, selfish thought however is "Why not me, what do they have that I don't?" The fact that Duke's LGBTQ community is so small just compounds it.

Perhaps I just haven't met the right person, perhaps my standards are too high, perhaps I'm just unlucky - it could be any number of reasons. Everyone tells me to be patient, to wait and that the right person will come along eventually. Rationally, I know that they're correct, but it's very difficult to be rational about something as emotive as a relationship.

I know I should be patient, not let it get to me and realize that many other people are in the exact same situation. But it's difficult. It's really worn down my self confidence and esteem over these past few years. I've started to wonder about what huge flaws I must have to make me so uninteresting to others and which cause me to fail whenever I pursue someone else.

So there's my spiel. For all those out there in the same situation, I truly empathize with you - I hope you meet that special person sometime soon. It'll be one less of us in this situation.

#9
I don't know what to do. I just got the call from Durham Public Health last week, and I'm still in a state of utter shock. I always knew that hooking up on the internet was sketchy and dangerous. I always felt badly about it…but what could I do? Most of the gays at the center won't even look at me, (Do they look at anyone without a nice camera and Common Ground apparel?) let alone pay me any romantic attention. I was desperate…I needed that close contact and intimacy that only being penetrated can provide. But the condom broke…and now my life is over. I'm HIV positive and I don't know what to do. I can't tell anyone…but there's someone who has to know. I had unprotected sex a few weeks ago with a guy at Duke and I don't know how to tell him that he may be infected. There are lives at stake...

16 comments:

  1. #1 - I'm glad you posted and are actively trying to think about ways you can change your perspective. I've never been on Common Ground, but I've heard that's an experience that can really change the way you think. Also, I hope you keep meeting more LGBT students at Duke, and that you feel comfortably coming to the Center and meeting more people who identify as LGBT. I have a feeling once you just put more faces to the word "gay", you'll think completely differently. =)

    #2- If you search Wiki for “Biology and Homosexuality” or “Homosexuality in Animals” that might give you more of the scientific basis that you’re looking for. But hmmm… why should we find a cause to same-sex attraction? I'm in Bio 116 (Ecology & Evolution) right now and a lot of what we study is why altruism adapted-it's not really beneficial to constantly expend energy helping others when you could just find resources for yourself. But we would never try to find a genetic cure for “friendliness”...it just wouldn't make sense!

    #8 - I just want to tell you that I wouldn't put your own self down as the reason why you haven't found someone yet. Did you ever consider that maybe you're just so cool, friendly and amazing that people feel intimidated approaching *you*?

    #9 - Please know that even though I do not know you, I stand with you, love you and support you.

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  2. To #9 -

    I can only imagine how terrifying it must be to have learned something as life changing as this. While I can't lie to you and say that everything will be the same as before, advances in treatment have allowed HIV+ individuals to lead relatively normal lives. In addition, we are constantly hearing about exciting advances in HIV/AIDS research that keeps me hopeful for the future. With the proper treatment, you can expect to live a long life so just because you have HIV, it does not mean your life is over.

    That being said, it is critical that you inform anyone who may be infected so that it doesn't continue to spread. Telling someone is possibly the one of the hardest things you may ever have to do. If you are uncomfortable with telling him yourself, Public Health Departments usually offer anonymous notification to people that they should be checked for HIV without revealing your name. It's still not easy to do but at least the person can also begin to seek treatment if necessary.

    Know that this is something that no one should have to go through alone. Talk to people. Professionals. Friends. Whoever. I'm sure Chris Purcell or Janie Long at the Center have a myriad of resources as well as the Duke Medical Center and Durham Health Department.

    And know that whoever you are, where ever you are, my heart goes out to you and that there will ALWAYS be people who will support you and help you.

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  3. #1 - There is a diverse population of LGBT people at Duke. Some are involved with formal advocacy (which requires attention in order to be effective). Some are not. Each person has a unique personality, and if you take the time to get to know us you'll see that you can decide whether or not you like us on an individual basis. You can be friends with one of us or not because of your opinion of an individual's character, just like you would with any other people.

    #2 - Love isn't about fitness. I'd like to think that one of humanity's distinguishing factors is the ability to live outside the bounds of instinct and within the realm of a dignified balance of thought and emotion.

    #4 - There are people you can trust. Although I don't know who you are, I can tell you at least one person is here for you.

    #9 - I am so incredibly sorry. I can't imagine what you must be experiencing. Try not to lose hope or give up on your life. It's not over. Duke has incredible resources available for you, and there are plenty of people willing to support you in a variety of ways. For the sake of your recent partner, though, you should tell him. The sooner he can get tested and take necessary action, the better.

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  4. #1, I am truly sorry you feel that way. I wish there was a button you could press so that you could just "be okay" with gays. Unfortunately, that is not the way society works.

    You say you feel that gays are just here for attention. And that they are all flamboyant. Do you truly truly feel this way? Have you ever attempted to meet other gays? We are certainly not all flamboyant, nor are we all even involved with the LGBT center (as Spencer said earlier).

    You should try to get to know us for who we are.

    Guess what: I am a huge basketball and baseball fan, i am very physically active, i am undeclared in terms of my major, i love to read and write, i am very very close to my friends.

    Oh yeah, and i just happen to prefer guys over girls.

    The fact is, why does sexual orientation define people completely? When you meet a straight guy or girl, i'm sure you certainly don't immediately label them as heterosexual. Yet, you do that with LGBT identified people (by immediately labeling them as homosexual, ignoring other prevalent human qualities).

    I know this is all easier said than done, but step out of your comfort zone. challenge yourself. Sit down with someone who is gay and ask questions, be honest, don't hold back. You never know what you may gain. I (and I'm sure any other gays) would love to sit down and just talk some time. Try us. You have nothing to lose. After all, we're all human beings, right?

    #8--I know people say this all the time, but i promise when i say that we all feel like this. Even i get lonely sometimes. It is perfectly normal to long for human companionship. The only thing i can say is be patient, your time will come. There is always someone out there for everyone. I know it can get so incredibly frustrating, but hang tight. And never BE AFRAID TO VENT TO SOMEONE ABOUT THIS. I go to my best friends when i am feeling down, and it helps so much. I promise, people can relate and who knows what insight you may receive.


    #5--thanks so much for the support. It is people like you who give me hope.

    #6: i bet it can be scary. sometimes it seems like the center is only a temporary safety. That is how i feel about any of my close friends.

    Although it is scary, i know you can give up the fear. You are going to have to let go at one point, and when you do you may be frightened. But guess what: no matter where you end up there will ALWAYS be support. I know it. Just because the Center will no longer be here doesn't mean there will not be some other replacement. At the same time though, definitely test yourself without being dependent on a "center", Although it will be very hard, challenging yourself and stepping out of your box is the ONLY way to grow and learn more. bottom line. I have faith in you.

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  5. #9 I received that same call two weeks ago. It was the single most terrifying moment of my life. While my results were different and there is no way that I can completely understand what you are going through right now, I do know that there is life after HIV. I have various friends who are HIV+ and live, and will continue to live, there lives to the fullest each day. While it is imperative that you share this information with your recent partners, I completely understand the difficulty. I had to tell my boyfriend who I love very much that I made a mistake one night and not only was I potentially HIV+, but so was he. I invite you to email me, phone me, or anything else if you want to talk to someone or just need a shoulder or an ear. Also, after I received my phone call, I had a meeting with Chris, the programming coordinator at The Center for LGBT Life, and it really helped me get through some things. Stay strong!

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  6. #1-For what it's worth, I'm a strong supporter of gay rights. Even so, when I came to Duke I was terrified of going to the LGBT Center. Even more, I was terrified that someone might think I was gay. That I felt these things really freaked me out, because they come from a place deep inside of me that was apparently homophobic. After all, I am not ashamed to believe in equality and I had friends from home who were out. The truth is, though, that we can all (including LGBT identified individuals) harbor homophobic thoughts and feelings--even when we don't want to. I think challenging your current internal feelings is really healthy and it will help you to move past them. No longer am I afraid of The Center, nor am I afraid to be assumed to be gay.

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  7. #4--Coming from someone who doesn't know how to ask for help or open up about these things, I understand. Sometimes I wonder how individuals in the closet manage to be in the closet for so long, but then I remember that I'm in the closet too--just a different one. For the past six years, I've internally questioned my sexuality. Despite secretly yearning to talk to someone about this, only recently have I half opened up, and it was only when I was sort of forced to. I'm not sure that I have good advice. But I hope you know you aren't struggling alone.

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  8. By the way, i meant #7 for my post, not #1

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  9. #1 - I'm coming and going between agreeing with you and thinking you're overreacting without knowing the people involved. Well, yes obviously a lot of LGBT people try to draw attention to draw attention to their issues. Is it too much? Do they overdo it? I love gays and sometimes it all gets on my nerves as well, but then I'm already aware of all their issues, I don't need them shouting it to my face over and over again. Not everyone is that way though. Bah, I don't know.

    #2 - You do realize that theories on evolution and survival of the fittest have developed and become more complicated since Darwin, right? You're like the people who ask for song titles on Yahoo Questions instead of googling the lyrics.

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  10. #2 - Read up on your shit.

    #3 - Be my friend.

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  11. #1- First, I commend your honesty. But I do want to challenge your comment about flamboyancy. As has been mentioned above, not every gay person expresses themselves in a manner which is considered flamboyant. But, putting that aside, I don't think that there is anything wrong with acting flamboyantly and I want to challenge your perception of being flamboyant as a negative trait.

    As I think you know, everyone has a different personality. Your post indicates that you desire authenticity (rightfully so), but your comment about flamboyancy seems to be discounting the sincerity of someone who is flamboyant. If that is someone's truest expression of himself--why should they act differently? Why would you think that they're being fake? Because "society says that's not how men are supposed to act"? I guess what I’m trying to say is: Would you prefer for this individual to act more “macho,” even if that isn’t the true him? That would seem problematic to me, given that you (and I) value genuineness. See, gender norms are dangerous and oppressive and not just to women. Many individuals accept that femininity is a social construct, but forget that masculinity is no different. “Macho” as a male concept is dangerously restrictive in all sorts of ways.

    As for how you can get past this? I hope you'll keep reading the blog. These posts will certainly provoke you to think about things in a new way and being informed on the issues presented here will make you a better ally.

    [Note, I assumed that the individuals described as flamboyant were male, because that is how I most frequently encounter the word being used.]

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  12. Dear #4,
    You deserve to be happy and you deserve to get to be YOU. I think going to the center and beginning to open up are a really really really great start. I also think that writing your post (and doing those things) took a lot of courage. You said that when you leave the center, you put your mask back on. I would encourage you to continue to spend more time there if that’s a place that you feel comfortable. The more time you get to practice “being you,” without the mask, the easier it’ll be to truly be you out of the center. The center isn’t just a space, either. The friendships you make there can exist out of the back room. If being with certain individuals from the center makes you feel empowered to be true to yourself, hanging out with them elsewhere may give you the courage to take off your mask in those other settings.

    One other thing—you mentioned that when you hurt too much inside, you hurt yourself. I hope that you’ll find the courage to talk to someone about this in person so that they can help you to help yourself. Whether that person is a friend, a professor, a staff member at CAPS—you’re a valued member of our community at Duke. I don’t promise that it will be easy—but I do promise that it will be worth it.

    Last last thing, If we aren’t already friends, I’d like it if we could be. Please reach out to me via email or facebook whenever you’re ready.

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  13. To #6--I think one of the greatest things about the center is the people I've met there. And the GREATEST thing about these people is that I can reach them wherever I am--at Duke or in the "real world." These relationships with the students and the staff aren't going anywhere, even if you aren't on campus. When you feel vulnerable and weak, they're only a phone call/email/facebook message or IM/text message/etc away. So, even when you can't go to the physical space under the student union, you can still go to those people.

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  14. To #8,

    I have to admit that your post scared me a little bit. I felt as though someone had taken my deepest, most personal thoughts and wrote them down. I know how you feel. The constant feeling that there's something wrong with you. All your friends say that anyone would be lucky to be with you and yet, you're alone. Something just doesn't add up. I'm not going to tell you to be patient because I hate it when people tell me that (even though that's just because I'm a stubborn, impatient person), but I will tell you to keep your eyes open. You never know. While you're busy admiring someone else, there could be someone else doing the same thing to you. You never know when you might stumble into that special someone. Keep your head up, my friend.

    The name's AJ. I'd love to talk to you about this more if you'd like. Talking it out with someone in the same position really does help.

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  15. bengisu...queen out!

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  16. This is #4. I just wanted to say thanks.

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