August 30, 2010

Anonymous Posts
(8.23.10-8.29.10)

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 :)

Sorry for the late post, y'all. I've been spending all day fixing my schedule, which includes "Steel." Of course. No duh. Normal college stuff. I also, in my first task as a Center employee helped piece together The Center's weekly email (check your inboxes, Community!). It was not very easy! Props to Chris Purcell (NVR 4GET) for doing it all those years.

So much to discuss re: this semester. More on that later, I just want to get these posts up ASAP. See you at the Welcome Reception, great to be back, comment on the posts, etc, etc.


#1
"I just wish that there was more variety in the images America sees. I don’t know any Antoine Dodsons but I do know quite a few gay black men who would give Will Truman from Will & Grace a run for his money in both wealth and career achievement, and I would certainly love to see a few of those types as a gay character in a drama or sitcom, or a real-life type in a reality show.

While I have no issue with Antoine Dodson, I hate that his over the top, neck-swinging sassiness, as real as it is for him, represents the current status quo for almost all black gay images in the media."


#2
Seeing the "Love=Love" shirts when I visited Duke convinced me to come to here. This blog makes me feel more confident in my decision and more pumped for college each time I visit. Thanks for being rad.

#3
I don't feel comfortable with the term "gay". It's probably because it's a category with a lot of connotations that I'm not comfortable with. I don't want to label myself as gay. That's why I haven't "come out". Why do I need to come out? Is it just the people who are attracted to the same sex that need to come out? They have to announce their sexuality? bring the bad news to their parents that for whatever reason their kid is queer? Can't I just go about my life without coming out? Sure I feel this weight on my chest. I wish it were undiagnosable anxiety. But it's just the stress from bottling up the truth about my sexuality. I suppose coming out would relieve that? But I don't want to...

I'm more offended by the term "straight". That implies that preferring the same sex is crooked--somehow wrong or abnormal.

I wish I had been more confident with my sexuality at Duke. I would have gotten more sleep, maybe. To the people I had crushes on I would hint, passively, my interest. There were only two people, really. One sophomore year. One junior (and senior) year. Too bad neither of them drank. All my sexual encounters involved somebody drunk and (pretending to be) sleeping.

I feel like some of my friends know my sexual preference. They must, right? I make cryptic, subtle hints about it. I don't date or hook up with people.

The closest I've come to the LGBT center was to get my hair cut.

My mom talks about turning our old bedroom into a guest room for when we visit with our wife and kids, or serious girlfriend.

I'm intrigued by "you people" on campus. You "Community" people. I want to interact with you. Or I wanted to. But I guess I missed a lot of chances to do a lot of things.

Would my parents think differently of me? My sibling? My sibling would. My sibling can be a bit bigoted at times. My Republican aunt, uncles and cousins might think differently. My grandmother might. A lot of my friends wouldn't. The people I work with wouldn't.

I feel bad leading girls on. I dated a girl once. After we made out the evening of our first date I felt no sexual desire. But we dated for a month so I could tell people when I went home for Fall Break that I had a girlfriend. I broke up with her and I didn't consider how she felt.

I was attracted to girls before puberty. I had genuine crushes on girls. I saw one girl I had a crush on in 9th grade without a shirt on (just a bra). And I was attracted to her. But then something happened, I guess. Maybe when I started masturbating. I've only been sexually attracted to one girl since then. That was 12th grade. And nothing came of that. Unrequited crush.

What about kids? I want kids. And a family. And a big dining room table. How can I have that??

If I were still a student I'd take one of my free CAPS visits and talk to someone, maybe. I used 3 of them over the years, but of course wouldn't tell a therapist the truth of my sexuality. Now I might.

I wrote it down and sealed it in an envelope and wrote "burn before reading". I did that a few weeks ago. I opened it and read it.

I don't know what to do. What could someone possibly say to make me---make me be open and honest about my sexuality? I feel like I've heard it all before.

12 comments:

  1. #1: It would be really nice to see more variety in the presentation of LGBT people. Unfortunately, that can't really happen until more of a variety decide to present themselves. And that opens up a huge, complex discussion about visibility and equality, but basically more people need to be out for us to see them and then reflect them in the media and stuff...

    #2: Glad you're here! Make the most of it.

    #3: I'm really sorry to hear that you've never been able to open up. I know it's a difficult lifestyle. Try to let the prospect of letting go of that burden motivate you to reach that "ready" point sooner. You don't need to announce a label to the world. You don't even need to announce a label to yourself. Just try to feel comfortable living your life how you want to. Everyone deserves that.

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  2. 3 - i feel the same way. i'm a freshman at yall's rival and i've already led a girl on. and all my suitemates tell me about how they're homophobic and don't want to hear gay people talk. now how can i come out? not that i even want to come out really - its a private thing, i don't need to tell anyone. but not telling anyone doesn't solve my problems. and my mind goes in circles over and over again

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  3. Why don't people want to be open about their sexuality? I think a main reason is the worry people will treat you differently. There are obviously stereotypes about "gay" people. Gay guys like to shop and don't like sports and are sensitive. You think your guy friends won't want to hang out with you alone. You think people will define you as a homosexual, with all the baggage that comes with it.

    That seems like a good reason to "come out". Be who you are. Open up about your sexuality. You are you. You just happen to like people of the same sex. By being open about it you debunk the stereotypes.

    I know people receive violence and hate for being open about their sexuality. And that is serious and scary. But I'm not worried about that.

    What it really boils down to is this: You are going to come out at one point or another. Whether it is today, in college, or when you're 35 divorced from your wife and moving to San Francisco. The question is when do you want to come out? Why wait? The sooner the better, right? The sooner you come out the more time you have to lead a healthy life with social and sexual encounters that are real and honest.

    Sometimes I wish I had dark brown skin, so I could be a victim of racism and feel what it feels to be discriminated against. And yet I am too scared to come out about my sexuality. I have a chance to join in solidarity with people who are discriminated against because of who they are attracted too, but I am too shy or scared or something.

    I know I should be open about my sexuality. I know I might as well "come out" even if I'm not calling it as such.

    But I still can't do it...help...

    -Poster of #3

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  4. # 3 - for me it was just a very clear realization that I definitely wasn't happy closeted, and I knew that whatever being "openly" LGBT meant, I knew it had to be better that not being open. also, I was telling someone this last night, that coming out is sort of like going to the gym; you're pretty sure it's good for you, but you really don't know how you're going to feel until after you do it. also, a lot of folks I know have expressed that looking back on it, coming out was actually easier than they thought it would be. I know the thing that made it easier for me was to have help from friends along the way. this community is still here for you if you need to talk about this. =)

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  5. @#3:

    I think a lot of people think that "coming out" means completely changing who you are, announcing to the world in some loud way that you are queer, etc. While that may be how some people look at it, and those who choose to come out in that way are certainly not invalidated in their choice, there is no "one size fits all" model. You made the great point that heterosexual people aren't forced to shout their orientation: those who want to do, and those who don't don't.

    In my "coming out" process, I still haven't explicitly told a lot of people. I don't introduce myself as, "Hi. I'm X, and I'm gay." I don't really feel any different except for the fact that I don't feel forced to really hide anything. If the topic of sex or sexuality comes up and it is appropriate to the situation, I may bring up being gay. If something about LGBT rights comes up, I may tow the Community line. If there's a cute guy who I know is also gay, I may make a move. I don't really see that as being much different from how those with straight privilege would act in similar situations.

    Just realize that coming out should mean to you what you want it to. I can only hope that you feel comfortable enough to live without fear or hesitation about being gay. But don't feel like you have to follow anyone's rules or start tap-dancing in a rainbow flag in order to be "out".

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  6. #1: Truth. This was a great piece that I read start to finish - thanks for sharing. I would challenge what the first comment on this post says - that the problem here is a lack of visibility on the part of the black community. I mean, if we're talking about fictional characters written into a television show or movie, that is not an explanation. It's not like the reason Seinfeld, Friends and Sex and the City don't have any minority representation is because there is a LACK of diversity in New York City. For reality shows, it's not like this is a random sample, the casting is done meticulously.

    This is a chicken/egg issue, but I would argue it's much clearer than that. We are at a place in 2010 where we can write/cast these characters into television shows. The media portrayals of gay men (especially black men) influence visibility much more than vice-versa. As #3 points out, it may mean feeling like, "well, I'm gay, but I don't identify with these images. What does that say about me? What does this mean if I come out?"

    The columnist's point that there's nothing wrong with flamboyant, over-the-top gay men I think is really important, and I was really happy that was in there. Our rejection of stereotypes should never be confused with a rejection of people who may be stereotypical. The problem with stereotypes is not, "ew, I would never be one of those people that go shopping and are sensitive or even cross-dress." The problem is that it completely ignores individuality and my existence. This is why, as complimentary as it may seem, making Asians a model minority that is great at math, technology, etc. is offensive. One needs to put themselves in the shoes of an Asian American that is just, like, awful at math and wants nothing to do with it. How fucking annoying would that be? It's not like you'd be all, "how dare you confuse me with someone who likes math?! Those people are The Worst!". It's just don't assume anything about me.

    /rant. Sorry that meandered a bit.

    Also, this. Mmm.

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  7. #2:
    You rock, and are so much so the reason why I am ditching engineering ASAP. There are differences to be made! Sidewalks can wait! Also, thank you for already volunteering to write for the blog when you get to campus. That was very nice of you! You'll let us know when you're here and all? Sweet!

    #3:
    I really think the anonymous commenter (11:32 AM) did an awesome job of responding to this (I see you, Anonymous Commenter - great work!). It's so often perceived that, "well straight people don't come out, why should I?" when the fact is that straight people come out, like, every three minutes.

    For me, it's just important because I wouldn't be able to deal with the heteroassumptive (a word, now) comments and questions. I hate that. With my personality, too, it would just be too hard and stressful to watch everything I said. I need to express myself and if I couldn't do that in the way I wanted to, that would be a huge problem. I just don't know what I'd do.

    You can still have the big dining room table, #3. I think you know that now, more than ever, you can have that big dining room table.

    But baby steps. Let's start by, like, telling a couple other very close friends? Maybe?

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  8. From poster #3:

    Thanks folks. Comments are somewhat helpful.

    "But baby steps. Let's start by, like, telling a couple other very close friends? Maybe?"

    Yeah. That's a good idea. But for me that seems like the hardest part.

    I don't like the heteroassumptive stuff either. I try to say "he or she" in conversation.

    If one of my close friends asked me about which sex I preferred, I wouldn't lie to him or her. Last year, one of my friends asked me "Are you gay?" I just didn't respond.

    I know it takes time for people to come to terms with their identity and sexuality, etc. etc. but I think we should start a "I know your gay and I don't care" campaign.

    That would be reaffirming for me. It would take the pressure of at least. If a close friend, or anyone for that matter, just came up to me and said: "I know your gay, and I don't care." I wouldn't need to respond.

    I don't feel that repressed. I'm not that sexual. Maybe I'm a little depressed. But I am happy and social and stuff. So I don't have much of a burden keeping my sexuality a secret. I just get it at night when I'm alone. Or after I hang out with a male friend that I am sexually interested in. And sure it drives me to drink. But not in an unhealthy way. It's ok to drink alone in moderation, right?

    So, maybe if yall could come up to me in person and say "I know your gay, and I don't care" that would help. Can you do that for me? Of course, I'll be hard to find.

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  9. When I was 14 I was instant messaging with a boy I had a minor crush on and I said I was gay. He said something like "me too, lol" I responded "No, really" Then he didn't respond.

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  10. ^ Hey 4:37. Please tell me that isn't the end of you coming out or even par for the course since then?

    Also! To the UNC first year with awful suitemates: There are some really, really cool people at Chapel Hill that are good friends. I know you're meh about coming out and all, but I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that the first GLBTSA meeting is on Thursday at 7 in the Student Union. It's really no stress - anyone can go (hell, I've even been to one). Idk. At the very least it'd be a break from your suite.

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  11. From post #3:

    I wrote this...

    "When I was 14 I was instant messaging with a boy I had a minor crush on and I said I was gay. He said something like "me too, lol" I responded "No, really" Then he didn't respond."

    And that was the most I came out. Besides tacit allusions.

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  12. #3:
    I resonate completely with what you're saying. It's a daunting feeling--the feeling that you need to deconstruct and reconstruct your life at the same time. All while in your early twenties and trying to navigate work and life and everything.

    I graduated from college in 2007, still closeted. I tried dating a few girls and hoped I just hadn't met the right person. I actually came to Duke last fall as a Div School student. Honestly, it was my last desperate attempt to try to fix myself. I tried to date a girl, and realized that I was selfishly enmeshing her in my mixed up emotional turmoil.

    That was the final straw for me. That was when I realized, oh so thankfully, that I didn't need fixing, that I wasn't going to change (nor did I need to). I went and talked to Janie one afternoon. She is a saint above saints. She had to listen to an hour plus of my verbal vomit about the emotional turmoil that was my life at that point in time.

    When I first starting coming out, I also felt bitter about the process. There were days I just wanted to stand on the top of the chapel screaming, "I'm GAY! I'm GAY!" just to get it over with (and because the irony of a guy standing on a chapel in North Carolina screaming I'm gay is WAY to amusing for me). Fortunately, I managed to resist that impulse (not always the easiest thing ever for my mildly hyperactive self).

    Instead, I started slowly building a community. I started slowly telling people I knew I could trust. Each time brought a wave of anxiety. But it got easier with time, as well.

    And it grew more fulfilling. The more people I told, the more I had people say they felt honored to be part of the process. The more I had people say I was the first close friend they had that was gay. That's when I realized that I have the privilege of norming being gay for them. I get to be the face that goes with the word. And I get to help them realize that being gay is not just a caricature or an idea or an abstraction.

    I'm still not out totally. And I know that the really hard conversations are still ahead of me. But I also know I'm in a better place now then I was a year ago. And I trust the same will be true a year from now.

    So my advice: start slow. Continue reading this blog and enjoying the virtual solidarity that comes from hearing others' stories. And over time, you'll get more comfortable with your own story.

    -Josiah Littrell

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