April 26, 2010

Anonymous Posts
(4.19.10-4.25.10)

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 :)

It's LWOC, y'all. And from all of the anonymous posts we got this week, you would think that the L stood for Lanonymous posts (my fire alarm went off at 4:45 AM last night so my jokes are going to be like this).

Glee was incredible, etc. etc.

Let's just get to it.

#1
I love being involved with the Center. Let’s get that straight. But another thing I want to get straight is this: I am straight. For some time, I’ve enjoyed being low key in the Center and showing up to events, even helping to plan some, and I LOVE the people who make up this community. But something inside me still keeps me from being 100% committed or involved. Something inside me pulls me so hard to get more engaged with the issues, to be an advocate for LGBT issues, to prove that things are looking up and with hard work here, now, we’ll get more people to be aware of these issues, too! And yet, I can’t bring myself to be fully invested. I guess you could say I’m not completely “out” as an ally. Or, maybe I am (I surely am proud to be an ally), but every time I bring up that “I’m hanging out at the Center” or “Yes, I’m participating in Day of Silence” or “Hey, come with me to this event, you don’t have to be gay or anything,” I worry that people still … assume. I especially worry about this with my co-workers. But why does that bother me? There’s nothing wrong with being LGBT … right? Is that why I feel the need to specify “straight” on my Facebook page? To qualify ally with “straight?” Then again, socially, religiously, politically, there still is something “wrong” with being gay, generally speaking. Is me being a straight ally then make the cause more valuable? More valid? Does me being removed from the “problem” give the cause more power? To a certain extent, I think it probably does. If someone is not affected by immigration issues, or healthcare issues, or minority issues, then the voices most loudly heard are usually people more empowered to speak – oftentimes, those not affected by these issues. Unfortunately, sometimes those calling for oppression are louder than those calling for freedom. But that is changing. Hopefully. Slowly, but surely.

So I ask myself again, why am I an ally? What’s in it for me? And then I think that if I’m asking myself that, then others sure as hell are asking themselves that, too. When I first started going to the Center, I felt like I was approached with caution, curiosity, and suspicion. To this day I still sometimes feel that, whether that’s truly the case or not. Do I do it to prove how “open-minded” and liberal I am? Do I do it just to get a reaction? Or, do I do it to prove that there are others like me out there, too?

After years of introspection, I think I’ve been able to start identifying the reasons I am an ally. I am an ally for the humanity and dignity and worth in you and in me. I am an ally because you deserve the same respect, consideration, happiness, protection, peace, and rights as anyone. I am an ally because I see the absolute beauty of perfect creation that you are, just as you are. No, this is not me up on a high horse. This is me exposed completely at my deepest core.
But, while these thoughts and feelings are in my mind and heart, I still struggle with openly expressing them. I still need help coming out as an ally and really not give a shit what people think – as long as it gets them to think about LGBT issues. And in that respect, I remain in solidarity with those who must question whether they can come out on a daily basis, for those who do struggle with LGBT issues and discrimination, and for those who question the power of their voice and presence.

#2
I like to think of myself as an ally. I come often to Fab Fridays, I hang out at the center in my free moments, and consider many of the individuals within the LGBTQ community my friends. Though, I often question how good of an ally I am. Yes, I am strong on the social part- but I feel like I lack in the activism part.

Recently, DUU put up the "me too" chalkboards on the plaza. One night. As I was looking at the posts for inspirations, I saw someone wrote "I hate transgendered people." I inwardly thought how horrible that was. But that was it, I thought about how bad it was then moved on to another part of the board and wrote superficially wrote "I hate going to the gym." As I waited for my companion to write something on the wall, another ally who's a familiar face at the center saw the post- vocally said "that's horrible" and proceeded to cross it out. She rewrote "I hate bigots." Echoing in the spirit of the board, my companion wrote "me too" next to it. Now that's an ally. I was so disappointed in myself in that moment- at how passive I was. I felt like a coward. I realized how recently I've become more lax in how approach the various forms of "soft" hate speech around me. I used to be so vigilantly in questioning my friends who casually used "fag" or "retard." Now, I let words coolly pass me with an unreceived eyebrow arch to mark my disapproval.

In the weeks since, I've made sure to vocally question whenever my male friends say "no homo" or "i'm not a queer." I try to openly entreat them as to what that means- why are we denigrating groups people for the sake of humor. I think I realized why I stopped doing this before, it's not a popular thing to question privilege. You get stares, stammers, and sighs of frustration. But, it's necessary. All forms of silent (and not so silent) repression are connected and need to be attacked.

Still, I constantly question how good of an ally I am for all disenfranchised groups- whether it based on gender, race, disability, sexual orientation, etc. I feel like that I am not doing enough. I feel like awareness is not worth anything if you don't do anything with it. At this point, I feel like most of my stock is based on awareness.

#3
Thank you to all the people in the Center, especially Janie and Chris. You make the lives of so many people on this campus just that little bit better, even if you've never met them.

#4
I hate being stereotyped. I am a very politically conservative individual who hates being stereotyped as a gay-hater just because I'm conservative. I have no problem with LGBT individuals, but I do when they automatically assume I dislike them (And this was even before the DCR issue!). This is not a blanket statement, and most LGBT's do not do this, but a few here at Duke have branded me a homophobe just because I am conservative, even though I've given them no reason to think that.

I really want to be able to support the LGBT cause, but every time I run into someone who judges me, I have a hard time. It seems almost like they *need* someone to be against them, as it justifies them somehow. I know most LGBTs aren't like that, but please know that the best way to advance your cause is not through trumped up victimization, but rather just being who you are and not actively seeking out people to be against you (once again, not saying most of you do that). I feel many people would rally behind the LGBT community if that happened :)

#5
I would like to apologize for my post last week in which I falsely claimed to have been diagnosed with HIV. I intended it partly as a joke, and partly as a means to encourage people to get tested. I hope that the latter did occur. I understand, however, that the post created a lot of distress and for that I am sorry.

12 comments:

  1. Hey Numbers 1 and 2, I'm an ally from UNC and I would hope that you do know me. There is literally nothing that makes me happier than seeing other allies at the Center. Honestly, the reason is because, for the longest time, I thought that I was alone or that I was crazy for being a straight girl in an LGBTQ world. If you still need help getting more involved as an ally (or just more active) or if you need someone just to talk to that will reassure you and tell you that you are just as important to this cause, feel free to contact me (Swati Rayasam). I give out free hugs and am completely open to new friends.

    Trust me when I say that coming out as an ally is just as important as coming out as LGBT.

    Look forward to hearing from you =]

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  2. #1 & 2 yay ally power! :)

    and 2, this is weird but i must say, thank you for the compliment.. when i read your post, i was with my friends who were also there with me when i crossed out the hate speech, and we couldn't believe you mentioned me/us. but there's no need to be disappointed in yourself - we're here to support and remind each other the right thing to do. i've questioned my abilities as an ally countless times before but i think that's natural. awareness might seem passive and weak, but it's maybe the most essential part of an ally because i think it changes the way you act in general even if you're not making a comment every time you hear hate speech. i never thought me crossing out some hate speech on the "me too" boards would be noticed by anyone except my friends - i even felt useless because i didn't think the writer would see it. but you saw it and it effected you and you have inspired me to keep up my attitude. so just remember that your smallest action can create a butterfly effect and even when you feel like you're not doing enough, a small eyebrow raise can inspire another silent ally.

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  3. # 1 I know where you're coming from. Recently someone I know asked me, "Since when did you become such a gay rights freak?" Honestly...who cares? I just go to the Center because my friends are there. What more reason do you need?

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  4. #5 you're kind of a douche

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  5. #5 i cried when i read your post last week so i guess i feel a little betrayed right now. if you truly posted because you thought it would be an effective way to encourage getting tested, maybe your heart is in the right place. however, as a joke?!? really?!? that's not even remotely close to comical. please do better.

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  6. I really appreciate your honesty with yourself. I often hear allies at Duke and UNC start sentences with "well I'm an ally but..." or "I'm straight but I still think that..." As a bi person who is in a currently heterosexual relationship, I have to consciously choose to decide to be an ally. That's sometimes calling people out and that's always making sure I'm not participating in homophobic culture because it's so easy to not think about my privilege. Being an ally is also about recognizing your privilege

    And please don't beat yourself up over not saying something. Just think about that instance and put it in your tool belt and use it next time. And if you know that there is nothing wrong with being gay, try to "come out as an ally" in little ways. If you still want to be interested in the opposite gender on facebook that's fine, but stand up when someone says "that's so gay?" And if someone questions your sexuality, you can always say like "wow, I'm straight but would there be anything wrong with being gay? I just can't believe people still talk like that/gays can't marry/etc/etc." And use that situation as one where you can start a conversation.

    And re: #4...I'm sorry I'm probably one of the people who stereotype you. Thanks for calling me out on it, I'll try to work on it.

    And finally, as much as I appreciate your honesty in your post, joking about AIDS is not funny

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  7. to number 1,
    It took me a really long time to feel comfortable with being an ally and as outspoken as I am, so I promise you that I know where you're coming from. The first time I had that feeling of "I hope they don't think I'm gay," it totally freaked me out. It freaked me out because it meant that on some level, at the very least in my subconscious, I associated being gay with a negative quality--negative enough that it was something I didn't want to be. Before that incident, I had no idea that this "thought" (?) was inside of me--me, someone who prides themself on being embracing, accepting, tolerant, open minded, etc. At first I didn't confront it, because I didn't even want to admit to myself that I harbored those feelings. But now, I no longer worry about the assumptions people make about me. In fact, on a few occassions since then I have been mistaken to be gay, and it didn't bother me at all. So what changed? I can't put my finger on it exactly. I started getting more involved with the Center--a place I was once terrified of (because, "what if someone saw me going there!?"). In become more acquainted with the space, the activities of BDU and the friends I made through those things, I was able to "reprogram my subconscious." The thing is, we can't help the cultural messages that are forced upon us at every turn. We do internalize them. All of us do. And there is no way to avoid them, but I can fight those messages by exposing myself to a different set of cultural messages and values. That's where the center, BDU, and my friends come in.

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  8. #5: This apology is more baffling than the original post, even if it was fabricated, given the context of anonymity. It rightly should cause distress: there are several students on this campus dealing with being HIV positive, some whom I know would never post on this blog.

    But then, if you let your identity be known and caused distress to your friends/loved ones, that's your own misstep.

    —E.F.

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  9. 1--your idea about being straight and an ally and how that may make the cause more valid, more powerful, etc in the minds of others is really interesting. I think I agree with you that "to a certain extent, I think it probably does." You have a different perspective than other members of the community, and I think that's definitely valuable. Also, the first half of your final paragraph is really very powerful/moving. It's just really striking and really beautiful. I can understand how those feelings are the core of who you are and it only makes me think of you as a truly beautiful human being. I feel really fortunate everytime I have the chance to meet people like you at Duke.

    2--Don't beat yourself up over it. We've all missed opportunities to speak up. The way that it has stuck with you speaks volumes about the kind of person you are. I think your recent change in behavior--being more vocal and really challenging people--is really awesome. Way to use that night as a learning experience and as a catalyst. Be proud of the change you ARE creating.

    3-- :)

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  10. 4: sorry for being that person who probably judges you. I'm trying to be more open minded and to realize that not all conservatives oppose gay rights. Thanks for challenging me to continue to try to view people differently than I currently do. I appreciate your post.

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  11. OMG #5 THAT WAS SO FUNNY. I laughed so hard at your post last week. Because it was so funny.

    I wonder what other things you do for attention.

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  12. "I wonder what other things you do for attention."

    Oh yeah because usually people do things anonymously to get attention.

    -E.F.

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