So first I should probably just note where I’ve been this whole semester. I had been so sure of myself: on this mission to present my community with interviews and photos. I loved doing it. But then, as some of you know, my last subject’s parents found the entries…the blog. What ensued was not the greatest of circumstances for this individual. I had the permission and everything but I couldn’t escape this feeling of guilt. I stopped writing. What right did I have to put someone in that position of pain and hurt?
I think I reflected on it too much. I was scared that I threw myself out there, and was trying to pull out everyone with me. To be supergay, or ultragay, or gay before anything else. To take the risk and out ourselves on campus, online. That’s a big step. Deep down, I still absolutely agree that being just us was the goal of my entries: to show the broader experience of queer folks at Duke.
But being more out has not been without its hate.
Reactions from family and friends and complete strangers have been interesting. Although I am perhaps more hesitant now to post online, I know these stories are important to tell. So I hope you can bear with me in this post. I hope to continue posting during the summer and make up for my absence and overcome the fears that have piled up on me this semester.
There were two events that occurred really close together. They were my most direct and blunt experience with hate speech. I tried to brush it off and not let it get to me, but I’ve kept replaying these events over and over in my mind over the past few weeks. The first—was on LDOC. For those of you who have seen Patrick’s Documentary, LDOC 2009 was a great memorable experience for me. LDOC 2010 was tons of fun too, don’t get me wrong. But while kissing a female in the crowd while the bands were playing, I suddenly became aware of the people talking around us. I tuned in to a pair of guys next to us, hearing: “They’re kissing each other, that’s fucking disgusting.”
I can delight in the attention and reaction and help show a broader spectrum of female sexuality, the girl I was kissing certainly was. But I don’t really like being told that I’m fucking disgusting. It tore through me like I didn’t know it would. I shocked myself with how much it hurt.
Then, awhile later, the second event. Walking down Markham, hand-in-hand with my partner, a gentleman took it upon himself to lean out of his car and yell, “God made Adam and Eve!”
Not so piercing, no. But what if it was? What if something happened?
The only thing you can really do is laugh it off. Crack jokes. Be stronger...somehow. How do I do that?
I went to the Eno a few days ago, on a hot humid Durham day. I jumped right in that damn river. The peace and serenity of it all was overdue. Listening to the river flow slowly by, sitting on a soggy log, watching the dragonflies dance. I even got a tick! I’ve been terrified of ticks my whole life, but somehow it felt like a milestone. I picked it off without an issue, and maybe I’m sinking too far into hippiedom for my own good but I was pretty excited.
This semester was huge for me. A coming of age with hate speech and ticks. My grades weren’t what I wanted them to be—but are they ever? And I talked to my dad yesterday and while on the subject of coming out to the family he said: Summer, I just want you to include in your life whoever you want to be in it.
I don’t think he knows what that means to me, to us. It made my big ol heart want to explode.
Transparency and honesty are hard. It’s what I’ve made out 2010 to be. So far so good I think.