May 24, 2010

Anonymous Posts
(5.17.10-5.23.10)

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 :)

This summer continues to be The Summer of Chris as I spend more and more days not doing civil engineering at the HRC. For those curious about what a typical day is like, when I get there in the morning, I first do not design a sidewalk. Then, just before lunch, I do not design and mix a batch of concrete. The rest of my day is spent not finding neutral axes.

It is truly a dream job.

After work today I met up with Vivi, who is The Greatest, and took her to this great Mexican restaurant I found this week called "Chipotle." I think a Glee party with the other Dukies may be in order tomorrow night. Community, come visit us!

Anyhow! Sorry these posts are up superlate today. I was busy fighting for my civil rights and those of millions of other people (clearly this job has not gone straight to my head).

#1
I am excited and I am anxious to begin my next four years at Duke. I have no desire to live life in the closet any longer. But easier said than done? How do I present myself to a new community as a gay member? Will I just become known as the gay kid? Perhaps if I wait until later, until people get to know. But then will I do? Can I tell them? And how much more time of my life will be spent as a lie? I am a straight acting guy, and no one really questions my sexuality. I have begun to wonder, however, if this is really who I am. Did society force me into this ideality of how a man should act? Did I shun my true self so far down into the darkness that I can't even recognize it? I am gay. I know that, but I have never said it. I cannot bring myself to say it, let alone to another person. I hope that at Duke I am able to live happily with myself, and discover my true identity.

On another note, not that this has been very linear, I have been considering that when (if?) I am an open gay man. How will I begin to see/date other gay men. Starting with my freshman year of high school, I had a "hook-up buddy". He was a year older than me and went to the same high school (he is actually the brother of my one best guy friend, which made for some interesting nights spent over there). We never really talked, just hooked up. I have never even kissed a guy; nor have I never had sex, but everything in between I suppose. I have never dealt with actually dating or getting to know a guy. I do want to hook up at Duke. I want to have fun and I want to meet people, but I feel like I won't know how to actually connect with someone. Does this make me superficial? Or just like any other college guy?

In short, I am confused. I am confused as to who I am and how I will live my life at Duke. This post has been a messy stream of consciousness with too many rhetorical questions, but I have never actually talked(or written) about this before. I just hope I can be happy with myself at Duke.

#2
Hi community,

You don’t know me yet, but you will soon, and I want to pick your brains.

First, I’m a woman, and I think I’m bi.

I think I accidentally dated a girl once, who I think was also bi, but wasn’t ready to go there. I mean when we stopped living together I called it a breakup… that was one of my first signs. (what timing). Also, it was a little complicated because I was engaged at the time, but when I started questioning and then realized that I’d been cheating on him, honest to God unknowingly, and with a woman, for several months, and he’s not a bad guy but also not particularly sympathetic with the LGBT community, well that broke down real fast.

I’m still questioning, but I think it’s a pretty good indication that sometimes I find myself thinking about kissing breasts while my boyfriend goes down on me. But what if I’m actually a lesbian? I don’t know. Honestly, I don’t know. I’ve blamed some confusing sexual reactions in my recent past to abuse in my far away past, and now I have no idea.

And I think I might need to spend some time with a girl to figure it out.

The problem is, I’ve been dating someone new and I really love him. We’ve recently moved in together and he is the most open and understanding ally I’ve ever met in my entire life, not to mention a smart and wonderful and loving person. I’m toying with the idea of forever. We’ve talked about my sexuality situation and he said he might be secure enough in our relationship a few months down the line to set me up with one of his bi/lesbian friends, but I don’t really believe him. I think he would do it but it would hurt him too much, honestly, and he is not by any means one of those guys like Katy Perry’s boyfriend who won’t take cheating as seriously if it’s between two women. (Thank God. Can we please stop supporting that, culture?) Anyway.

So, my questions to y’all are these:

Do you think you can know definitively about your sexual orientation without experience to back it up?

Even if you can know, is it important to get that experience?

Why can’t I stop thinking about it? Do you have any suggestions?

Love.

#3
So I’m approaching my month of being uncloseted! I’m so excited about this day approaching. To be honest after I came out I told my friends that I wanted a “Coming-Out” party! I still plan on making that happen and I want “I’m Coming Out” by Diana Ross to blast over the speakers. I just want to celebrate my accomplishment. I wrote my mom a letter, inspired by a friend’s letter to her mother, and I sent it to her over facebook. I kept asking myself as I was writing it, “Are you sure?” “Life will be changed after this forever”. I was also listening to “Listen” from Dream Girls. (I’ve yet to see the movie, but I love that song). My soul straightened up and said I’m coming out and I finished the letter. I even attempted to preemptively answer the questions that my mom would have at the end of the letter. I posted it and clicked “enviar” (send, my facebook is in Spanish). I was out. Well not right away my mom would have to read the letter..but several other things happened. I called my grandparents to let them know what I did, and my grandma pleaded that I told her I was kidding... I waited a day and my grandma went ahead and told my mom. While waiting this day, I told my friends what I had done, and received all of their support. I was out. No more hiding in closets...No more lying to mom about what I’m doing!! I can now be more specific about what I do at Duke! I felt free. My soul felt free. My entire being felt marvelous, amazing, alleviated, healed, repaired, liberated, astonished, amazed, shocked, scared, flustered, and incredulous! It was the most unique experience I’ve ever had in my life!! I’m out!!!!!!!!! I’m OUT!!! I’M OUT!!! I told myself this, and each time I felt like I was taken to a different level. My mom is now asking who I’m dating but I have a feeling she is telling all the family relatives, so now it is going to be awkward when they approach me and say...so I heard through the grapevine your gay. But lately my mother has been having conversations with me about the birds and the bees. She states, “When you were young you didn’t like suppositories or enemas, how do you think a man will be?” What she fails to understand is that, being a child, you don’t think of adults like that...well not at the age of 3 or 4. So that bothered me a bit that she was trying to rationalize my sexual preferences. But I told her same rules applied before I came out. I’m not telling you about my First nor what positions were tried. That’s gross mom, well gross to talk about with your own mother.

12 comments:

  1. To 1:

    Hey Dear, it honestly sounds like you're aching to come out. I can assure you that you will not be known as "that gay kid" at Duke. The community itself is incredibly supportive. To answer your masculinity questions, being in the closet does that to you. It forces you to act the way that stereotypes have told you to act "as a man," HOWEVER, that does not necessarily mean that there are no "straight acting" gay men. There are plenty to go around and if you feel comfortable as one of them, then there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. The community is also very welcoming, so if you try to put out effort and talk to people, I'm sure that you will make nothing but real connections, especially at the Center. Chris and Janie, the guardians of the Center, are nothing but wonderful and always have a listening ear for you to borrow, not to mention that the Center is full of people who, more likely than not, have felt the same feelings that your feeling right now.

    I hope that helps! I'm at UNC, but I'll be over at Duke enough and am looking forward to actually getting to know the person that you are, every identity included.

    To 2:

    Hey, I believe that you can definitely be sure about your sexual orientation without experience. One of the things that I actually hate is that the "not LGBT supportive" community will always question how someone knows that they're gay if they've never kissed a man or a woman before. It's upsetting because I know quite a few men who are sure of their heterosexuality and have never kissed a woman before. You know what you feel, the only unsurity will be if you stop being sexually attracted to men and are solely attracted, in body and mind, to women.
    Getting the experience is great, I'm sure, and it's what college is about. BUT, you are in a healthy, enjoyable relationship with a man who seems to love you very much. My guess as to why you were fantasizing about breasts with your boyfriend because maybe you are curious, but if you don't want to hurt him (no matter how understanding he seems to be) then I wouldn't go for it. Now, if things don't work out with him in the end and you want to try a woman, then feel free. But I advise to go with your heart. Do not ever feel pressure to date a woman because you've been curious because that relationship will be for null and you both will most likely end up hurt. However, that doesn't mean that you can't live your life with both eyes wide open. After all, isn't that what college is all about?

    Oh, I forgot your last question, I think. Probably because you're curious and it's a new exciting experience. Not to mention that your boyfriend gave you the tentative "go ahead" for it. Fantasies are a little hard to reign in.

    (Of course I run out of space)

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  2. To 3:

    1. I love the "coming out party," best idea ever I think.
    2. I am SO happy for you! Coming out is pretty hard and I'm happy that you've finally had the courage to be completely honest with your family (which I personally know is difficult).
    3. To get down to the nitty gritty, every family deals with this news in a different way. For example, my family was OVERLY supportive of the lesbian identity that I never have claimed...it was awkward to say the least. Your grandmother's reaction was understandable because it might be the first time she's ever been in this situation, and it is understandably scary. Your mother is curious, that much is obvious. She just wants to try to connect with you and is unintentionally being hilariously curious (or annoyingly awkward...depends on how you look at it). She's trying to get comfortable with the idea and trying to see where she completely overlooked your identity change. She might also be telling the family in order to find someone to sympathize with or simply to talk to. If your family comes up to you and says "so I hear through the grapevine that you're gay," then just stand firm and say that you are. Ignore any stupid questions and try to get at the root of the question and answer it. I doubt that anyone will be intentionally malicious. So if someone asks "So, when did you know you were a fairy?" just reply with "well I've always been gay, but I fully realized it around age ___ and was in the closet until I told my friends and mother ________." (Or with something of an equally informative and neutral nature).

    Looking forward to talking to all of you next year!
    Swati Rayasam

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  3. To #1:

    I can empathize with your situation - I felt similarly before arriving at Duke. I was unsure of whether there would be an accepting community, whether I'd be labeled as "the gay kid" and how/if I was going to come out to people. It's definitely a struggle to deal with all of these questions while at the same time discovering your own identity.

    Drawing from my own experience however, I'm sure you'll be able to live happily with yourself and discover your own identity at Duke. By no means will it happen overnight, nor will the path always be obvious, but that's what college is all about. We have really strong community here on campus, with many resources available, including the LGBT Center, the student group Blue Devils United. They've both been instrumental to me in my time here and the development of my identity. If they aren't necessarily your thing, then there's heaps of other ways to be involved, such as the discussion groups. Of course, these outlets aren't necessarily for everyone - and you'll quickly work out what you want to be involved in and what you don't once you arrive.

    I don't think your wish to have fun and meet people makes you superficial - most college students feel the same way. You don't need to be so hard on yourself for feeling confused, these are pretty common feelings to be having. You've definitely taken a bold first step in articulating these feelings however. Declaring that you have no desire to live life in the closet any longer takes a lot of courage too, so I applaud you for that.

    I hope I've alleviated some of your concerns and know that we all really look forward to meeting you this Fall.

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  4. To #2:

    This was a really interesting post, you definitely cover a lot of difficult questions that many people grapple with on a daily basis. Relationships can be messy enough without the added complexities of sexual identity thrown in!

    To answer your questions, I think that (as with most things) really depends a lot on the person. I know I knew I was gay long before I ever had my first experience with another male, I remember a very strong sense of feeling different from a young age. Initially I didn't understand where this feeling derived from, but as I entered my teenage years I very quickly appreciated that it was because of my sexual orientation. I know of many people who have had a similar experience to my own, but it is by no means the only one. There are definitely people who are deeply unsure of their orientation and only begin to formulate an idea of what it might be after some encounter. An LGBT Road to Damascus event, if you will. I think sexual orientation is too vast and complex an issue for it to ever be cut and dry.

    As for whether it is important to get that experience - again, I think it depends on the person. Only you can be the judge of whether it is important for you to gain these experiences or not. For some they are defining moments in their lives, while for others it doesn't really matter. The question of sexual identity is such an intimate thing that it should ultimately only be up to you how you choose to explore it. Which is probably why people think about it so much. Sex and sexual expression is such an ingrained aspect of being human that we do think about these questions a lot. Being what societal norms consider to be outside of the 'mainstream' can also often lead to a lot of questioning and pondering over what one's expression of their identity should be.

    My only advice would be to try to not let it consume you too much (difficult and cliched, I know). The expression and understanding of one's sexual identity is a beautiful thing, but you should discover it on your own terms, at your own pace. If you feel that you need and or want to get these experiences to understand it further, then by all means do so, but definitely don't feel pressured to by anyone else.

    Thank you so much for your post, looking forward to meeting you!

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  5. To #3:

    Congratulations! That's awesome, a Coming-Out Party sounds totally cool, excellent choice in music too ;) That's so great that you've had such a positive experience in coming out.

    I hope that your mom begins to understand better where you're at and what you're experiencing. Parents and families can definitely be complicated, especially when it comes to this sort of thing. It's great that you're speaking to her and other members of your family about it though, dialog is rarely not a positive thing.

    It's wonderful that you feel free now and better able to express yourself at Duke. Again, congratulations, this was such an uplifting and inspiring post to read :)

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  6. #1 - Just be yourself. That's something we all hear A LOT, especially in periods of growth, but I think it applies to your concerns. It's definitely not as easy as it seems; we hesitate and withdraw all the time to prevent others from seeing who we really are. If you make true self-expression your main goal, though, your confusion over sexuality and masculinity will be appeased. You don't have to seem like anything - gay, macho, normal or otherwise - because those things are social inventions. What you create in your own personality is the most important.

    #2 - Love your post. So great haha! As far as your specific questions...You don't need experience to know. At least I don't think so. I sure didn't. If you can't stop thinking about this, then talk to your boyfriend about it some more. Just remember to handle things reasonably. I personally wouldn't expect the situation to get better if you're experimenting while still in a relationship, even if he says it's ok. Whether you're dating a man or a woman, and whether you're going from that person to a man or a woman, everyone deserves to be treated with respect and consideration. Of course, this includes you, so do what's best for you. Just tread carefully.

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  7. 1. I loved this post. So many people feel this way ALL THE TIME. I felt similarly before i came out as well. And before coming to Duke, (even though i was already out) i even wondered if I should wait before telling people at Duke.


    My advice for is just to be yourself. Everything Spencer said above is spot -on, forget all of this "straight-acting" gay nonsense. Who you are is who you are, and that's all. If you like only males and identify as a gay man, that does not mean there are certain other "traits" that will suddenly become of you.

    Also, you asked whether you should wait when you first get to Duke. I firmly believe that everyone has to come out on their own time, meaning that no one should come out until the are ready. However, i have met so many people who stall and stall and stall waiting for this really "easy" moment. It doesn't exist. Coming out of the closet is a challenge, and it is difficult sometimes to tell others of your sexual orientation if you've never told anyone before. So if you're ready, do it from the start. I went to Duke being out from the start and i have met the most amazing people in the world. If you decide not to be out from the beginning, don't fall into this trap of never coming out either. I promise, there are many, many people who are even upperclassmen who thought about waiting their freshman year a little before coming out, and they still aren't out. It's very easy to do that.

    Remember though, be you. People will love you for that and you WILL be happier.

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  8. I'm not really qualified to give advice to any of the three anonymous posters, but I feel like Mr. Editor needs to get his head in the game for not having been to a Chipotle before. There's one approximately 100 yards from my apartment. Next time you go, make sure you get the carnitas.

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  9. #1- On the note about superficiality when it concerns to your approach on relationships, I had a similar mindset before I got to Duke.

    I am all about fun and no strings attached because I don't sit well with long term relationships or that dreaded thing called "commitment." I roll my eyes when people discuss about wanting to find their true love or want something substantial outside of the hook-up realm; it's not my cup of tea. Though you may not be as cynical as I am, I don't see anything wrong with not knowing how to automatically "click" with people. It's not an easy task, and college sometimes doesn't make it any easier, but at the same time, college opens a lot of knowledge the self. You should have an open mind about interaction ranging from friendship to intimate relationships or hook ups in order to know what sits well with you and what doesn't. You never know, something you averted from in past may be something you embrace once you get to college.

    So have fun, experiment, and reiterating Spencer's words, just be yourself. People will easily connect with you if you do so. I love talking about the different links connecting people and the degree of those connections, so if you just want to chat about that, or anything at all, let me know.

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  10. #1 - I am SO glad you asked this question on the anonymous posts for this blog. It's very close to my heart. =) First off, good for you for already using the BDU blog! It's really awesome and definitely a great resource.

    I could probably write an entire book in response to your post...but I'll try and keep this as brief as I can. I didn't come out my freshman year, because I found it stressful enough to just be in a new environment on my own. (I'm a twin, so being "on my own" was super weird.) I was just trying to adjust. BUT looking back on it, I wonder if it would have been easier to come out if I didn't have to do it as a sophomore. If I had just came out right away, I wouldn't have to rewrite my identity after "passing" as straight for a year.

    SO. There is no right or wrong way-just different. You have to do what you are comfortable with. But if there's one thing I WISH I did at Duke, it would be to have come out WAY SOONER. (Sorry for the caps, but I want to emphasize this!!) I really think being in the closet in college...with so much sexual liberation and freedom of discussion..is just very taxing on your psyche. I don't think it's worth it.

    That being said, I don't know what's right for you. For example, if you're in ROTC, I wouldn't recommend being super open. If you'd like to continue this conversation via Facebook, I would be more than happy to answer any more questions you might have (Megan Weinand). :D

    As for the relationship stuff...I have little experience so I can't give you advice on that! I would say, don't force it, it'll probably come when you're least expecting it. =)

    Good luck! I hope to see you around (or in Facebook) soon!

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  11. to swati :)

    She doesnt even go here!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Do you even go to this school?

    No, I just have a lot of feelings

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  12. #2-
    You asked if you can know without "experience" and I think you meant a shared sexual experience. On that note, I agree with the people above who said that you can know your sexual orientation without sexual experiences with another person. However, an "experience" doesn't have to be a shared sexual act. There are other experiences which may help you to navigate your identity--crushes, for example. Using this definition of experience, I think experiences are really helpful and even necessary to figure out how you identify. I'm willing to say necessary, and not just helpful, because I'm currently questioning and am all over the place and the root of much of my uncertainty is because I'm not attracted to anyone, and virtually never am.

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