September 29, 2010

WOMYN Update!

Hello WOMYN! Thank you to everyone who submitted a piece to the magazine for this year’s issue. We recieved well over 35 submissions and we are getting really excited for the finished product.

We won’t have anymore “WOMYN Wednesdays” this semester, but stay on the look-out for our upcoming “
WOMYN Release Party”, where we’ll distribute the magazine and celebrate this year’s accomplishments. We are planning on publishing the magazine in late October/early November, and we’re working on Layout and applying for funding in the meantime.

Lastly, two weeks after the Release Party we’ll hold elections for the new editors of WOMYN magazine for the following year. Anyone with an interest in working on WOMYN is qualified (first-years too!), and elections are open to all Duke undergraduate students for the positions of Editor-in-Chief and Managaing Editor. Talk to one of us for more information if you’re interested! (Note: The position of Senior Layout Editor is application-based since it requires knowledge of Layout software.)

Thanks for your support, and stay tuned!
-Megan, Jack and Summer

September 27, 2010

Anonymous Posts (9.20.10-9.26.10)

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 :)

Well, I think we can all agree this weekend was The Greatest. The Pride Parade was a huge success thanks to Justin Harris and everyone else who pitched in. I think Matt's recap below sums everything up pretty well.

Last week also saw the first "Our Lives" Up Close & Personal discussion group meeting. And, I mean, I feel like that was very awesome and successful as well. Cole (so give or take a few) counted 32 people there! That is so many people. Too many people? Well, no. There's no such thing as too many people at a constructive and respectful and insightful discussion. But maybe if when we get that many people or more at the next meeting we'll break up into groups? Anyhow . Thanks to everyone that came, I know it meant a lot to me and my co-facilitator (who is a rock star and the best and wow), and I'm sure to everyone else that was there.

Aaaand remember that we're setting up a committee to outline blog guidelines for appropriateness and such. We want this team to be diverse, so shoot me an email at It's only as big of a commitment as you want it to be :)

So many anonymous posts this week, y'all. Last time I split nine up, but I feel like we can handle it and make sure everyone gets some love, right? Right.

Dear Chris and S.,
I went to the discussion group the other night and it was great. Before going, though, I was really worried that since it was a mixed group including allies you'd ask people to include how they identified in their introduction. I knew this was probably something I didn't need to worry about, but even still, I was nervous. I didn't know what I'd say if that happened. I'm questioning, so I wouldn't have been comfortable saying straight but I also wouldn't have been comfortable saying LGB. I hold my cards pretty close to my chest, so I also wouldn't have been comfortable indicating that I was questioning or even saying something along the lines of "I'd prefer not to answer" because of what that implies. I'm grateful to both of you that I ended up being worried about nothing and that I could go to the discussion and be in that space without having to share a whole lot. Really, I just want to say "Thanks!" I'm already looking forward to next month's!

(link) A pretty sobering article and I think an important fact that we all need to get tested.

I have a new goal for us as a Community and a University: to get on Princeton Review's top LGBT Friendly list.

Probabaly isn't something that would happen while any of us are here, but how awesome would that be?

You'd think that I'd be able to be okay with the fact that I'm single. But I just can't be. I'm so longing for physical and emotional contact at this point I feel it's ridiculous. How many more years of my Duke career do I have to go through until I meet someone who likes me and I like them? I want to believe that I'll meet someone at Duke who I care for, but why is it that even though I'm active in the LGBT community here, I just can't seem to find ANYBODY? I feel like it makes me depressed but I don't know what to do to stop it.

I've been seeing a guy for over a year and a half now at school. When we're on campus things are usually great, but there can be rough patches sometimes, right? Right. Over the winter and summer breaks were usually pretty far apart, but we call, text, Skype, whatever to keep in touch. The breaks make coming back to school that much better, but this semester has been odd. He just isn't acting the way he has in the past. He says that he is still interested, but his actions don't show it. Should I stay the course, or am I being paranoid?

I didn't go to the pride parade. I went last year. But I had no one to go with this time and was too shy to venture out alone. I am no longer a student anymore. And finally I'm feeling more comfortable with myself. I wish I had all those opportunities that are available at Duke. I would go to CAPS. I feel old. I feel too old. I fear becoming actually old and still being secretive about my sexuality. I don't want to come out when I'm fat and balding. I want to have some fun romantic relationship 2 years ago. I think I remember some new years resolution a few years ago, about coming out. I guess that never came to fruition.

"So are you going to bring some hot girl to the homecoming ball?" He asked.
"No" I replied.
"Why not?"
"Why would I?...Why would I bring a girl?"
"I guess you could go alone."
"You're thinking in the box...There are three options..."
I think he knows. I don't know if he knows that I had a crush on him for a year or two. But I think he knows that I don't think inside the box. Then why does he ask if I'm bringing a girl?

The two guys I've had crushes on in college have both had girlfriends. But they end up in these circumstances I encourage or create that makes me wonder what they want. Whether it is hiding next to each other under a desk. Or watching a movie in bed together. Then him falling asleep and me not knowing whether I should get out of bed or not.

Or the other staying up with me until 2am. Coming over for breakfast. He didn't seem to have strong feelings for his girlfriend. And they've broken up now.

The other one stayed with his girlfriend (I let him sleep alone in the bed after the movie). He moved. Now we're not even friends.

If I just met someone this could all go away. I would be open if I met the right guy. I don't want to come out. I just want to go out. I don't want to tell my parents I'm gay. I just want bring home a boyfriend for thanksgiving. But it's hard meeting guys. Especially when I'm not out. I suppose I need to look harder. Only if I'm looking will it find me. But do I need to come out for that?

I have an inquiry. I am wondering where my fellow "fabulous" freshmen (F^3s) are getting their confidence from. We've barely been here for a month, yet it seems that everywhere I look I see my 2014 peers hanging up rainbow flags, participating in gay pride parades, meeting other "fabulous" Duke kids, posting amusing recaps on the blog, and doing it all with a rather enviable amount of fearlessness.

I'm just wondering where I can get some of this "confidence" stuff. Were they handing it out during orientation week? Was there a memo I missed? Am I the only one who's fulfilling the duties of the awkward, semi-closeted freshman? I realize that I enjoy earth tones in my clothing too much and don't listen to enough Lady Gaga to be truly "fabulous" in the full implications of the word, but I do wonder if you guys have any of that magical elixir of self-acceptance left to share. I could really use a dose.

While I realize that this plethora of confident, fabulous froshlings is a sign of a positive change in our time, I just feel like it would be cool to know that there are still kids who would be able to empathize with me and still aren't prideful about the whole...uh... "gay" thing (I even have trouble typing the word).

I didn't go to NC Pride for two reasons:
1) I don't like large crowds and
2) I'm still a bit uncomfortable with being "out", though technically I'm not "out".

I hate that I'm this way and I especially hate that I missed attending and being a part of something so wonderful. There's always next year, I suppose. I hope I can have the courage to participate by then.

September 26, 2010

NC Pride Wrap-Up

[Ed. Note: This year, we've decided to recap BDU and Center events with pictures and firsthand accounts. Our first-year friend Matt B. was awesome enough to write these up for us, because it's what people who are The Best do.]

As someone from outside the South, I was totally surprised that North Carolina even had a Pride parade, much less one as well-attended as yesterday’s event. The News & Observer, the Triangle’s local paper, estimated that roughly 10,000 attended or marched in the parade. It was basically Gay Christmas.

Starting in front of Duke’s East Campus and wrapping around the 9th Street district, the parade consisted of about 20 floats among 100 marching groups and almost 200 vendors. Organizations represented ranged from UNC at Chapel Hill’s GBLTSA to Raleigh’s Legends Nightclub. As usual, however, Duke’s float was the best, thanks in no small part to Justin Harris, who organized the float, and Chris Perry, who probably saved several people from dehydration with a valiant Dollar General water run.

I was lucky enough to find space on the float, and it was amazing. Several times during the parade we were warned that our dancing was compromising the structure of the float. You know you’re doing something right when you’re dancing so hard that you might break the float. From the glimpses of our reflection that I caught in the windows of 9th Street storefronts, I feel qualified to say that we looked fantastic, all rainbows and body paint and Love=Love shirts.

Sign highlights:
“All the cool Duke girls are lesbians”
“Bisexual: it’s the best of both worlds!”
“When rapture comes, all the fun people will still be here!”

Regardless of how liberal Duke may (or may not) be, Durham is still in the Bible Belt and because of that I was expecting religious organizations to have a huge presence at the parade. They did, but not at all in the way that I imagined. I was pleasantly shocked to find the religious role in the parade was less “GOD HATES FAGS” and more “(Insert-church-name-here) loves gays!” There were a few protesters, but their relatively inoffensive arguments were widely ignored. Furthermore, I’m pleased to report that as the Duke float passed their somber-faced contingent, a certain Lily Allen song just happened to come on over the speakers…

After the parade, I ran right to the shower. I did my best, but I have a feeling I’ll be finding glitter in weird places for the next week or so.

September 24, 2010

Nonentity- Consistently Falling Under the Radar

[In addition to all of our awesome visible and identifying columnists, we also have some awesome anonymous columnists that for one reason or another must use a pseudonym (and pseudopic?). Details on anonymous columnists here.]

“Bisexuality is a choice,” he said.

A choice? How?

Do gay men choose to be attracted to men? Do lesbians choose to be attracted to women? If you asked them, I’m sure the majority would say, “No, I was born this way” or, “No, this isn’t a choice.” And I believe it isn’t. Why would anyone choose to be a minority? A minority often not respected by the whole, a minority struggling for rights and respect and acknowledgement. No, if anything there is nothing to gain (especially not in this day and age) from being gay, bi, lesbian, etc.

Bisexuality isn’t a way for me to be “gay, but less gay” than others, nor is it way for me to have a broader catalogue of selection, and it certainly isn't a way for me to be a slut and over-indulge in the carnal pleasures of life (in fact, I’m a strange combination of asexual and bisexual, mainly because I’m content without dating/relationships and do not actively seek them). I can’t give a reason for bisexuality, but to me it’s merely attraction to both men and women. The same way a heterosexual is attracted to the opposite sex and the same way a homosexual is attracted to the same sex. Perhaps it’s different for others. Perhaps other bisexuals chose to be the way they are, but I sure as hell didn’t. I’m just attracted to both men and women. I can’t explain how or why, but I am. Why can’t people just accept and acknowledge that?

Of course, I’m not expecting everyone to accept and acknowledge the fact that bisexuals exist. My parents… well, specifically my mom, is the kind of person I’d expect this sort of shallow thinking from. She’s convinced that the only two lesbians she knows—who are a couple—are just playing some sort of game and aren’t really into one another and are looking for husbands even though they live together and are raising a son… Yeah, shallow thinking. I wasn’t expecting much from her granted where and how she was raised (I’ll save the topic of my family for another post).

My parents, together, weren’t too accepting of me when I came out to them. I couldn’t really read them at the time and we never talked about it after that night. I was too surprised/shocked to bother with wondering about what they really thought and they were too confused. Why? Because I had said the word “bisexual”. They spent the majority of the time trying to figure out why I “was repulsed by men” (their words, not mine. I like men!) and it didn’t take me long to realize they didn’t believe bisexuality existed. I felt cornered with nowhere to go—at a loss—and there was no way I was going to tell them I was borderline asexual. I knew coming out to my parents needed to be handled swiftly and simply and I wasn’t going to complicate matters and prolong the event.

I haven’t really run into this topic again until coming to Duke. My roommate even explained to me her difficulty in grasping bisexuality when we discussed it and I’m not too sure she even believes that bisexuals exist. I sometimes wonder what she really thinks I am, but I don’t really care much. And then again, this hit me at the first BDU meeting, when Stranger-I-Didn’t-Know was asking those attending what they identified as. She asked if there were gays, lesbians, and transsexuals, (and probably more, but my memory is terrible) attending the meeting, leaving out bisexual. And then asked later, “Those who didn’t raise their hands, what do you identify as?” And then, it happened again this final time when a gay male friend of mine was talking to my roommate about homosexuality. His tirade about how “bisexuality was a choice”…

I don’t know. Maybe I’m looking too hard into this. It’s easier to notice (and perhaps extrapolate) prejudice when you fall into the minority. Maybe it’s nothing. Maybe others see the same opposition around and I should just ignore it. I’m not mad about their opinions and disbelief, just perplexed by it and curious as to whether other bisexuals have experienced the same thing; people constantly disregarding their sexuality. Whatever the case, I am what I am. I’m bisexual (for lack of a better blanket term); bisexuals do exist.

September 22, 2010

Queer women in literature:
Virginia Woolf (1882-1941)

[Small spoiler note: I tried not to include any huge spoilers about the plot of Mrs. Dalloway, but I did include a few excerpts about the relationship between Clarissa and Sally Seton.]

This semester I decided to take my first English class at Duke, and so I signed myself up for “English131S: Topics in a Single British Author – Virginia Woolf”.

I have to admit that I signed up for the class because I knew Virginia Woolf was a feminist and a queer woman. As someone who wrote openly about her relationships with women and men, Virginia Woolf has been retrospectively labeled as a bisexual author of the early 20th century. Our instructor, Professor Sarah Nuttall, confirmed this fact, noting that Woof’s relationships with women are extremely well documented, particularly one with Vita Sackville-West, a fellow English author and poet.

Both Vita Sackville-West and Virginia Woolf were members of a literary circle called the Bloomsbury Group, which discouraged sexual exclusivity. The two married women had a long romantic affair, and Woolf’s novel Orlando (1928) was later called “the longest and most charming love-letter in literature” (according to Vita Sackville-West’s son). Published in 1928, Orlando was considered one of her best novels and is a story about a young man who awakens one day to find himself in a woman’s body.

Anyone looking to read about lesbian, bisexual or transgender women in early 20th century literature should definitely consider giving Virginia Woolf a try. While she’s not the most accessible author (she drops key moments in her plots between parentheses and in the middle of long-winded descriptive paragraphs), her stylistic qualities make her worth all of the effort.

Having just finished Mrs. Dalloway for this class, I can easily say that Woolf’s depiction of the relationship between Clarissa Dalloway and Sally Seton is by far the most eloquent romantic relationship between two women that I have ever read about in fiction. Within the first thirty pages of the novel, the protagonist, Clarissa Dalloway remarks on her wondrous relationship with a woman:

“Yet [Clarissa] could not resist sometimes yielding to the charm of a woman, not a girl, of a woman confessing, as to her they often did. And whether it was pity, or their beauty, or that she was older-like a faint scent, or a violin next door (so strange is the power of sounds at certain moments), she did undoubtedly then feel what men felt. Only for a moment; but it was enough. It was a sudden revelation. Then, for that moment, she had seen an illumination."

When I first read this paragraph in Woolf’s novel, I was floored. I felt like I could have written this-not in terms of the quality, but the context. It seemed very similar to my own coming out experience, or perhaps anybody's:

"The strange thing, on looking back, was the purity, the integrity, of her feeling for Sally. It was not like one’s feeling for a man. It was completely disinterested, and besides, it had a quality which could only exist between women, between women grown up…the charm was overpowering, to her at least, so that she could remember standing in her bedroom at the top of the house holding the hot-water can in her hands and saying aloud, ‘She is beneath this roof…She is beneath this roof!'"

Perhaps something equally remarkable about Mrs. Dalloway, is that it was a best-seller. I had no idea that a novel published in England in 1925 with prominent same-sex romance throughout the work (5 of the main characters are implied to be LGBT) would be so well-received by the public at the time. Today the book is still immensely popular, making TIME magazine's 2005 Top 100 novels list. I have to wonder what kind of political or social undercurrents the novel might have brought with its publication, considering the equality it demands for same-sex romantic attraction:

"But nothing is so strange when one is in love (and what was this except being in love?) as the complete indifference of other people."

Equally exciting about the novel is that it is highly affirmative of same-sex relationships between women. The stereotypical portrayal of LGBTQ women in older literature is that if lesbians do exist (which they rarely do), one or both of them ends up depressed, desolate or dead. Nevertheless, Woolf’s portrayal of Clarissa Dalloway’s relationship with Sally is largely positive, perhaps more so even than any of Clarissa's relationships with men:

"All this was background for Sally. She stood by the fireplace, talking, in that beautiful voice which made everything she said sound like a caress. Suddenly she said, ‘What a shame to sit indoors!’ and they all went out on to the terrace and walked up and down. Peter Walsh and Joseph Breitkopf went on about Wagner."

And of course…it’s just beautifully depicted as well:

"She and Sally fell a little behind. Then came the most exquisite moment of her whole life passing a store urn with flowers in it. Sally stopped; picked a flower; kissed her on the lips. The whole world might have turned upside down! The others disappeared; there she was alone with Sally. And she felt that she had been given a present, wrapped up, and told just to keep it, not to look at it – a diamond, something infinitely precious, wrapped up, which, as they walked (up and down, up and down), she uncovered, or the radiance burnt through, the revelation, the religious feeling!"

Personally I think that if you want to read empowering literature about LGBTQ women in fiction, reading Virginia Woolf if you haven't already is a great idea. I had actually tried to read Mrs. Dalloway two different times before this class, and I always stopped by page 10 or 20 because she's really difficult to get into. ("Plot" isn't her main focus-description is.) For me, being in this class and knowing ahead of time that Woolf writes equally about same and opposite sex attraction was a huge motivator to get through the novel.

"But this question of love, this falling in love with women. Take Sally Seton; her relation in the old days with Sally Seton. Had not that, after all, been love?”

September 20, 2010

Anonymous Posts

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! Lots to talk about.

The post from last week is still down. This is because we are still organizing this review committee, and making sure that it is diverse as possible. Like I said in my last post, if you want to be a part of this, email I think the goal will be more to develop concrete guidelines of community standards and respectful speech, than to review every comment or post we get. Ideally, a tone'll be set for the blog, and things'll get a lot easier from there.

With this said, and with the committee not formed yet, I'm going to be a little strict until then to be on the safe side. I think what I wrote captures just about everything I mean by respectful discourse, and what it entails for me. It would be superhelpful if Commenters could just try their best to speak from their own experiences, not make blanket statements about groups of people and especially entirely avoid derogatory language. As long and awesome as a comment may be except for an inappropriate part, I will probably employ a one-drop rule (which is a phrase that has its roots in the most racist, embarrassing times in American history and thus not The Most Appropriate Thing to use (Ever.), so sorry for not finding a better way to express this) when it comes to moderation.

Anyhow! Phew. That's out of the way and is something we'll never have to address again ever, #amiright?!

In other news the Center's first discussion group of the year is being held tonight at the Center from 7-8. I'm co-facilitating this, and more than anything I want a wide variety of people there. I know there are many LGBTQA people who would never come to the Center ever (many for ideological reasons), and as stupid and paradoxical and naive as this plea may be, I think their presence tonight would be really awesome. That is what this is for! Also, historically, the discussion group has been a venue for those who aren't out or don't feel comfortable with the visibility that comes with going to the Center, BDU events, etc. And it is still that, because confidentiality is pretty much The Most Important Thing tonight.

Anonymous posts for the week, yo.

I love, love, LOVE this blog. that is all.

The response at today's meeting to the harshness of typical cyber-banter elucidated what I felt was a crucial, underlying issue. Namely, making a negaitve post live took precendence to the issue of exaclty where the negativity originated. I mean, yes the blog post was catty. I probably would not have posted it either. That's why I'm posting today: here's my attempt to show that people who don't support the center are rational, thoughtful, human. We're just as gay as you are. Take this for what you wwill, but after having witnessed this for two years, now, I have something I really would like to say. I think it might even help, if you actually read it. Listen: I choose to be with straight AND gay people too, all the time, and not segregate myself from a population. I can be who I am without surrounding myself with others like me, or making it instantly obvious that I'm gay, or hanging a rainbow flag out of my window. I hate flags, anyway, of any sort; besides, gay people aren't a nation. I philophize and throw frisbees, I play an instrument and sing in the shower, I care deeply for the environment, I write and eat and dream; I do all of this, though, because I'm me and not because I'm gay. That's the problem, I feel with the center. It pretends to be something it shouldn't be: a way of life. I avoid the center because, frankly, I have too much work to waste time dressing up the act of trying to hook up with people. The "Center" is no more central to the lives of the large proportion of gay people you guys don't even know about than you are; it's all well and good that you guys like what you do, but stop. I don't like the center, I don't like seeing rainbow flags around campus, I don't like hearing my name called in absurdly flamboyant tones. Come out of your rainbow sized prisons; smell the fresh air, it's nice.

I don’t even know where to start. First, I have to say that I am so happy that Duke has such a thriving and amazing LGBTQ community. Second, I hate to say that I truly wish I could be a part of it, but I honestly just don’t see myself doing this anytime soon. This is my first year at Duke and I couldn’t have picked a better school. I’m happy with my friends so far, content with the social life the university has provided, and I’m even enjoying (most) of my classes. I even have a girl chasing after me already … man, I think I would have an amazing life if I was straight.

First of all, I truly don’t think I would be writing this right now if it wasn’t for my ex-boyfriend, whom we had to break up due to the distance issue. I am not out to anyone except my best friend back home, my other best friend turned boyfriend turned ex-boyfriend, my two older siblings (although they still deny that I’m like this), and the people I meet when I venture out in gay clubs and other places back home. My ex and I had an amazing friendship; he came out to me September of senior year in high school, and I came out to him the following month. Feelings started to become attached to our friendship around April, and we started going out this past summer. Needless to say, I was heartbroken to have my both my best friend and my boyfriend torn from me all at once due to distance. We broke up, told each other the lovey-dovey crap, and went our separate ways. It was less than a week ago that he told me he had met this other guy and they had already done “things” together (we told each other we would tell each other everything even after breaking up). To put it lightly, it is very easy to find gay people in my hometown due to its size. I was devastated – I didn’t talk to him for four days … I couldn’t believe it was so easy for him to just move on like that. Here I am now, feeling confused, hopeless, and feeling so, so lonely even as I am surrounded by my peers on a constant basis.

I feel like I have nobody to talk to … I wish I could have that one friend over here that I could just tell all my problems to and they would understand me, not judge me, and I could just truly be myself. The thing is, everyone here assumes I’m straight. The way I act, the things I do, the way I talk … it’s all very “straight,” although I hate saying it like that because I’m not the type to generalize actions or people into categories. The fact that I make out with girls during certain parties and that girls like me doesn’t exactly help my situation either. Sometimes I wish I would behave a certain way so that people would just assume I’m gay. Don’t get me wrong, I actually do like kissing girls and having fun (although when it comes down to more sexual interactions, I’m really prude) … even though when I kiss a girl I close my eyes and imagine it’s a guy, and even more sadly, my ex-boyfriend.

I know that if I came out to some people I’d be that much closer to being happy, I just don’t know who. I know that the Center would help me a great bunch, even though I hope that I’m treated less like a patient and more like a human being, if I ever decide to get the balls to visit. I know what I should be doing, what I shouldn’t be doing … and I know what I’m doing is what I shouldn’t be doing and what I’m not doing is what I should be doing … but I don’t have the courage to step forward and be a man when it comes to this.

I’m just confused. I don’t know what to do anymore. I just want to be happy. I just want to be free.

P.S. I’m very sorry this is so long, I definitely didn’t mean it to be this long. :/

September 16, 2010

Letter From The Editor: On Censorship, Constructive Conversation, and Respect

I took the second half of the anonymous posts down for now because things were getting a bit out of hand. All comments are put in queue for my approval before they go up, and what I saw was not good and kind of really very nasty. I understand if Readers think, "what was there wasn't so bad," but as editor I get to see into the future a bit (because of that queue) and things were about to get hateful (and I mean, personally, I thought the thread was already getting hateful). And that is not something that the blog is about.

So I put the conversation (*"conversation") on pause for a bit so that I could talk to the BDU officers and general body about what to do. And I also wanted to talk to all of Y'all, too. Sometimes it's ok to step back and take a second? I feel like that's fair, right?

This isn't about social fascism or quelling people who don't agree with me or us as an organization - it's about discerning between criticism that's respectful and criticism that's hateful.

From all sides.

I hate censorship, as do the BDU officers. In this case, it would be antithetical, as "rpb" pointed out two nights ago, to our mission of "effectively conveying the diversity within the LGBTQ Community" and "capturing Duke accurately while neither coddling nor depressing." Why bother running the blog in the first place if we don't allow contributors to be completely honest about their experiences?

At the same time, we wanted to learn from the mistakes of our predecessor site, which kind of turned into, so we specified that "hate speech and personal attacks" would not be tolerated.

Reconciling these values of total honesty and safe-space is difficult. But not impossible.

There is a way to convey the sentiment or experience of any Reader on campus (or off) respectfully. We can disagree, and I hope we disagree. Let's disagree! But as my mom's told me as far back as I can remember, "we can disagree without being disagreeable."

One of the most important things, I think, is to never discount somebody else's personal experience or reality. More specifically, it's not fair to say that "Duke has been a great place for all LGBT students and it's not a problem here" or "Duke is not an LGBT-friendly campus at all, and I wouldn't go there because how bad it is." Because both ignore the range of experiences of students here. There is no one LGBT experience at Duke, and there is certainly no one way to navigate life at Duke as an LGBT student.

And so long as someone's happy, and it works for them, then they should do it. That's totally legitimate. If that means never coming to the Center, if that means never speaking to another gay person on campus, then ok! No one should ever pressure them to do these things. One part of #7's post that I totally agreed with was his frustration that people kept insisting he get involved with all of our programming and meet all these other gays and such. That's not what anyone should be doing. The goal of "active" LGBT students and groups on campus is to offer options, not "omgyouHAVEtocometothisbecauseyou'regayand,like,we'regaytoo." If "gay" is not a major identifier for someone and subsequently informs zero of their decisions, it does not make them a "bad gay," "not cool," etc. because duh, it does not make them a "bad gay," "not cool," etc.

But the other half of this is allowing people who frequent (or even infrequent) the Center or BDU meetings or events planned by either, to do that, too. I mean, it's kinda fun for some? Personally, it's a place where a lot of my friends hang out and I know a lot of peers (including myself!) have felt the need to use the resources that are offered. I think why a lot of students like the Center and BDU is well documented in the hundred or so columns and comments on the blog, so I'm not going to go into that further.

Like we've said before, personal attacks are not tolerated on the blog. But I don't think I honored that the other night, and I was a jerk in one of the comments. I'm truly sorry for that, because it was not an okay thing not only as editor, but as a participant on the blog. Like I said in a later comment,

... I naively thought that I could just take my Editor Hat off, which is just not possible. I am a leader here on the site, and it's irresponsible for me to comment that way. I reacted, and got defensive when I read the words "disgusting," "incestuous," and "fake" used to describe people that I consider my family (and this includes me, too, I guess). Instead, I should have been more articulate in explaining why I did not think this was okay ... I'm truly truly sorry to #7 and any other commenter that I may have offended because they expressed distaste for the Center and those who frequent it. I won't speak like this again, I promise. And thanks to "rpb" for calling me out - I appreciate it.

I repeated this at the BDU meeting, and I wish I could adjust it to say that it wasn't ok just because I'm Editor, but because I am Anybody.

This is not the forum for personal attacks, because that's CollegeACB stuff and I think we all agree how we feel about CollegeACB (right? We're all on the same page on that?). And personal attacks, for the record, are not restricted to comments about just one person (i.e. "Chris Perry is just The Awfulest") but include character assassination of groups of people, too (i.e. "Everyone who doesn't regularly go to the Center is The Awfulest"). Blanket statements like the latter are not productive, are hurtful, and are usually prejudiced (and, for the record, do not have the necessary sociological data to back them up). They aren't conducive to the constructive conversation and cathartic environment that we're looking to foster here.

So I urge anonymous posters and columnists alike to keep their entries personal-experience based: "I was really looking forward to going to the Center and then nobody introduced themselves to me. It seems pretty cliquey to me." "Somebody told me recently that they took solace in all the flags that around campus, knowing that there was a support network for them at Duke." Let's keep things specific (and remember, LGBTQA-based).

As Readers and Commenters we can much more effectively get to the root of things and talk about them if entries are framed this way. If you've got a concern to share that could lead to a respectful, productive conversation, advice or encouragement, please do. Like, as queer advocates, we'd love to discuss the merit/detraction of showering the campus with rainbow flags. There is a discussion to be had here! But no side should label another with derogatory terms.

In fact, let's not use derogatory terms. I can't really think of an instance on this site where they'd be appropriate.

While I'm hoping this sets the tone for the blog, we decided at the meeting last night that the best thing to do is to set up a committee for reviewing comments and posts. I shouldn't be the only one making these decisions, and the members of this group will be diverse in their involvement with the Center, BDU, etc. If you're interested in more information, email

Anyhow. The blog'll go back to its regular format in a day or so, and there'll be details on what we're doing with the post that we had to take down.

Thanks for reading and contributing for the past 10 months. Y'all make this site My Favorite Thing.

Much much love,
Chris Perry

September 15, 2010

WOMYN Wednesday! [Deadline Tonight!]

[WOMYN magazine is excited to announce that we will be featuring polls from our community in the magazine! We want to hear what you have to say about LGBTQ issues, queer women and Duke! The general goal of WOMYN magazine is to increase the visibility of queer women on this campus.]

The Deadline for submitting to this year's edition of WOMYN magazine is TONIGHT by MIDNIGHT. We're still looking for pieces-artistic submissions, allied support, personal experiences, LGBTQ cultural, political or Duke-related pieces. Email us your submission-as short (1 paragraph) or as long (2 pages) as you'd like-tonight to

Also-keep your eyes on this blog for annoucements about our Release Party for WOMYN, which will be in late October/early November. We're going to release WOMYN with a bang!

This week's WOMYN poll is:

"What is the best thing about being queer?"

Click here to vote!

Feel free to write your name and year (ex. Jane Doe, Trinity '11) if you'd like your response to be quoted in the magazine.


Our goal these past few months, has been to increase the visiblity of LGBTQ women at Duke, ultimately culminating in a magazine. We don't want the conversations to stop with just one issue of the magazine (future magazine editors, we're looking at you!) or after today when the WOMYN Wednesdays stop. Raise your hand in class when someone implies that all women seek to date men. Create a safe-space in your dormitory if you are a RA. Work to end discrimination in your workplace or academic enviornments. And lastly, keep talking about LGBTQ women's issues on this campus, because that is the most important thing we can ever do-to keep the conversations going.

[Lower right, photo credit: National Coming Out Day logo, created by Keith Haring for the HRC.]

September 14, 2010

Blog Meeting Tonight!

If you don't think that making these posters is the best part of my week, then you clearly don't know me. This one is my appeal to the more artsy crowd (Ari), so I'm hoping my pointed advertising works.

Anyway! It's already been a week since there was a trillion people in my room for the last meeting. That was so many people! Things got a little squeezed in here and we had to get a little comfortable with one another. With this in mind, I've decided to have the meeting here again this week because duh, that is how families should be.

Maybe bring blankets and pillows and stuff? I don't know.

Tonight we'll be going over a lot more concrete things - setting up people to write, when they're writing, what they're writing, etc. A timeline for advertisements and such.

Again, no matter what you're involvement's been so far or what you want it to be in the future, you're more than welcome. Come visit!

My Room
Kilgo J210
Tonight, 9PM

September 13, 2010

Anonymous Posts: Part I

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 :)

Oh, ok.

So We went a week without anonymous posts last week, which we can just blame on FWOC and Tailgate, right Community? Right.

And then You were all like, "Let's send in more anonymous posts than ever this week and let's make them super interesting and fodder for The Most Conversation." And then you did.

We got nine entries this week, y'all. And some of these are superlong. So what I'm going to do is put up the first five (chronologically, as always) today, and the last four tomorrow? Is that ok? I feel like this'll help in making sure every post gets the attention it deserves and won't overwhelm Us with all the ! that is in these. I'm truly sorry if this offends the authors that are going up tomorrow.

I feel like this week is a good time to review some things as well: Our goal is to make sure that every post gets at least one response and the best thing we can do is speak from personal experience and frame it as such. Chris and Janie always stressed to me, too, that the best "advice" is to not tell somebody what to do, but to explore the options with them.

Anyhow. *deep breath* Let's do this.

Although I’ve only been an official Duke grad student for a few weeks now, I am so grateful for how welcomed I have felt in my academic program and as a member of the general Duke community. I have been fortunate enough to have a great roommate and to have found several people with whom I have become quick friends. My experience thus far has been overwhelmingly positive, and I am happy, for the most part. That being said, I am not yet out to the majority of the new people I have met. I’ve only been out to my friends and family for a year and a half, and the prospect of coming out to people who barely know me is a bit daunting. There is a part of me that knows most people don’t care, and I vacillate between not worrying about how others will react and being terrified by their reactions. I suppose this is normal, but it doesn’t make it any easier to deal with. I am proud of who I am, most of the time. Being gay is simply one part of me, albeit an important one. I’m also a firm believer in being honest with people when I am ready, and this has served me well so far. At the same time, however, I’ve already encountered some awkward situations with people trying to set me up with guys. The most recent encounter resulted in me coming out to my roommate. I lucked out, because she seems fine with it, despite being completely surprised. But, I’m nervous about the other experiences I might have that may not end so well. I have a strong support system of friends and family, but they’re not physically here. So, if things don’t go so well, I don’t want to feel isolated in a new environment.

I want to become involved in the LGBT community here at Duke and meet other LGBT-identified people, but I realize that in order to do so, I must be comfortable with a certain level of visibility. I’m frustrated because I’m not sure I’m there yet. I’ve been reading this blog for several months now, and I give a lot of props to all of the contributors and readers who are so helpful and supportive of each other and the anonymous posters. I admire you for being so visible and comfortable. I hope my post is not completely out of place on an undergrad blog (it would be great if DukeOUT started something similar), but I wanted to share my concerns in the hopes that some of you could offer any advice on how to gradually transition to being more out in a new environment. Maybe one of these days I will be comfortable enough to introduce myself to all of you. Thanks for listening.

I'm a girl. I started "questioning" not because I was attracted to another girl, but because I just wasn't ever attracted to any guys. I still don't find myself eyeing any guy (ever), but I also don't have any crushes on girls. I mean, sometimes I think "oh, he's cute/good looking," but I don't ever get that crush feeling. Similarly, for girls, I might think "oh, she looks good," but still no butterfly in the stomach nervous tension, etc. Can anyone else relate to this never-really-being-attracted-to-anyone ordeal? Is it what made you start questioning, too? How did you figure out how you identified if you didn't have any attraction to base it on?

I've never done this before, so here it goes: I'm a Senior at Duke, and I have a big secret that only one person knows. She told me it might help me get it off my chest and like rant about it a little if I could do it anonymously. Apparently you guys are gonna hear me out no matter how fucking stupid I sound? Anyway, so the big secret is that I'm gay. Even though saying it here doesn't really count because it's basically anonymous, I have to say that it feels really good to just say it a few times. Like, I'm still at a point where I'm grossed out that this is who I've become, but she says that the more I say it proudly, the better it will feel. I've never told anyone except her before because of all the obvious social constraints: my parents wouldn't allow it, I have a girlfriend I've dated for awhile now, and I'm in a fraternity at Duke that kind of puts us all on a pedestal as the best fraternity to be in and so on. We're supposed to look good and fuck girls and play around because we can. And I do. I do all of that shit and I'm sort of lying the whole time you know, getting through it, and there's not a single guy there who would get it. Why would they? Because I know what we say about guys and what we call each other: all that shit about stuff being "no homo" and how so and so is a "fag" because he does this or that. We just rag on each other and I know it's wrong to talk like that, but now it's like it's even more wrong because I wonder how they'd talk about me if they knew? Like, if they knew that some of them really piss me off calling some kid a fag because he couldn't drink the handle, would they start calling me a fag too because I like guys, even though I could at least drink the whole damn handle? I'm still the fucking man right? I get freaked out because realizing I'm gay - realizing I've hooked up with guys drunkenly and enjoyed it, realizing I've done more than just experiment, realizing girls just don't get me hot or turn me on - doesn't make me any less of a guy does it? Like I still want to drink and play ball and "bro out" but now it's so fucking confusing because some of my brothers really are chill guys and I need that kind of thing in my life. If they found out I was gay, they wouldn't want me around anymore because that's fucking weird. And then I think about the gay stuff I've done with some other guys in the frat - I wonder if they liked it, too, or if they're weirded out just as much as I am or if they think it was like a one time deal and that it'd be weird of me to suggest it ever happening again. I've been at this school for four fucking years and I only have one person I can be honest with? And the person I'm honest with isn't even myself. It's my friend. When I tell her I'm gay, I believe it but when I tell myself I'm gay, I keep trying to come up with all these reasons why I might not be - or at least - why I shouldn't be. At this point in college I've missed out on any opportunity to be honest about this and maybe meet some other gay guys who see where I'm at, so what's the point in coming out of the closet now? I'll lose my whole social life and basically everything I've built here at Duke. Writing anonymously is kind of my only option. So that's what I'm trying to do right now: be honest with myself and I guess with all you other people reading. The point is that I'm gay. I'm not gay in the way my brothers mean the word -I'm not weak and I'm not weird. I'm just gay. I like guys. And I'm really, really afraid.

(You who encouraged me to write this post, you know who you are. I'm sorry I can't take a bigger step but I appreciate you being there at this one. You're my best friend and you know that)

Hi! I'll be honest - I have never met a gay person. I know it sounds shocking, but I'm not from America, and homosexuality is neither common nor embraced in my country. I also admit that I’ve not gone out of my way to meet any member of any LGBT community, whether it be the tiny one back home or the thriving one here. (For that reason I also apologise if I say anything un-PC in this post – believe me, it will be a completely honest mistake.)

However, now I want to. I’m a straight girl, and I have a boyfriend. I really don’t see that changing any time soon. However, part of why I came to Duke was to experience new things, meet new people and forge friendships I would probably never have at home. I’ve been reading the blog regularly for about a year, and I want to go down to the LGBT center some time, just to have a look around and, I dunno, check it out.

When is a good time to go? Do I just show up? Will people automatically assume I’m a lesbian? (I just feel like that might create a little awkwardness.) What would I do there? I’m scared that my naivety when it comes to the LGBT culture will cause me to say something totally insensitive and mess up and offend someone.

I have been stuck between a rock and a hard place during my first two weeks at Duke.

I love Duke. I love the atmosphere; I love the new friends I've made. I love my classes, even. (I'm a nerd, so it all plays well with each other). Sure, the work can be stressful, but I've always had stress to perform well in high school, so now it's just the ol' bump and grind.

On the other hand, I've had to make this tough mental and psychological transition from my home to Duke. See, I am not too open about being gay. I mean, I’m way more open than I was a year ago as I just started coming out to my friends this past spring, but I am still hesitant to tell people that I am gay unless they ask me, with which I properly respond. I am gay, and I am comfortable with that fact. And I am comfortable around others, even with those who don't know I'm gay. But I am finding myself being quite socially awkward amongst my peers.

I've been at Duke for three weeks. I have not been out to West on a Friday or Saturday night.

I feel like my social awkwardness impedes me in making friends and being in more open situations to meet people. Well, in my mind, I don’t find it to be awkwardness. I find it as me being myself. I don’t drink, I don’t smoke, and I don’t “party.” But I feel like that’s what everyone does, especially my gay peers and it’s difficult for me to come out of my comfort zone in those situations. I am obviously trying to meet new people, but the media through which I am meeting people is not deep enough to form strong bonds and friendships, if you know what I mean.

My first boyfriend and I ended our relationship before we both went to our respective universities because we knew that distance would be an issue and we needed to meet new people and gain new perspectives. It was only a summer relationship, but it taught both of us what was required for a relationship to work. Obviously I miss him a lot, and when I try and meet new people, maybe find “dating material,” if you will, I think about what we had.

And I miss that.

I miss the relationship I had with a person who was a good friend who could tell me that he loved me and mean it. I miss the text messages we would send 24/7 when we didn’t see each other. And now that I am here and I don’t have that, I crave it. My cravings for a relationship have put me in a sour mood for some of my time while I’ve been at Duke because I have been unsuccessful with starting another consequent relationship.

Yes, I’ve only been here for three weeks, so why don’t I just put the brakes on first and slow down, have fun, and get a routine going first before we even start to think about a relationship?

I have some pretty mad insecurities and self-image problems that I feel need to be fixed or suppressed, and my first boyfriend did that for me. He made me feel better about myself. Without him, I feel those personal problems seeping back into my life when now is not a good time for those issues.

When I meet somebody here who I suspect is gay, I am afraid to take the next step, in fear that upon first look, I will turn him off. Therefore, I often don’t even make the attempt.

But back to the point: Why do I have these self-image problems and insecurities? Why can’t I stop them, and do I really need a boyfriend to fix those?

The answers: I sure as hell don’t know, ditto, and no, but it would make me feel better.

If I keep a more optimistic attitude, then I should be okay, but the issue is brushing off the pessimism in my brain to welcome the optimism. I’m working on that with little avail.

To wrap this up, because I know it’s too long already, I want to say that the chocolate fountain social was the first step I’ve taken to boost my confidence, reach out of my comfort zone, and meet more people with whom I share a common interest (yes, that interest would be guys). I thank BDU and the LGBT Center for reaching out and accepting me as a member with open arms, because I don’t know where else I could get such a reception. With a little, or a lot, of work, I can truly actualize who I am.

I am gay. I am human.

September 9, 2010

Chocolate Fountain Social Wrap-Up

[Ed. Note: This year, we've decided to recap BDU and Center events with pictures and firsthand accounts. (More pictures to come when I figure out how to embed a nice-looking photo gallery into Blogger.) Our first-year friend Matt was awesome enough to write this up for us, because it's what people who are The Best do. Thanks, Matt!]

Drawn by the promise of new friends and, let’s be honest, chocolate, Duke’s LGBT and ally community converged yesterday on Trinity Café, a cozy venue adjacent to the Marketplace on Duke’s East Campus. A few minutes into the social, Ollie Wilson, fearless leader of the gays, stood on a chair and addressed the gathering. He recapped a few of last year’s events, notably the Day of Silence activism campaign, and outlined the events BDU has planned for the coming year (which sound amazing, by the way). The mingling then reconvened. I met so many friendly people at the social today- it’s a shame I’m terrible with names.

I totally loved seeing all of the other first-years at the social today, even if most of them had smudges of chocolate on their faces. It’s awesome to know that I’m not in this alone. I can’t get over how welcoming Duke’s LGBT community has been. It’s hard to think that just a few weeks ago I was packing for college and obsessing over how hard it was going to be to enter college as an openly gay student. I figured that if regular students typically had a tough time adjusting, it would be even harder for someone, you know, like me. I feel like things are working just the opposite- two weeks in and I already have a supportive, friendly and undeniably fierce group of friends, thanks to the Center. If today’s event was any indication, the next four years are going to be amazing!

Towards the end of the social, I picked up a giant rainbow flag. It’s now hanging from my third story window. I wonder if my roommate has noticed yet…

September 8, 2010

You have nothing to worry about. I just want to be a part of your life.

Today, many, many great things happened. I was sitting in the Trinity Café at the Chocolate Fountain Social, thinking, reflecting, soaking in the great energy, and laughing at the chocolate that was all over everyone’s faces and noses.

I think in a few short hours, several things came full circle for me. The chocolate fountain social was my first LGBT event when I was a freshman, latched on to Chris Purcell. Now, there are so many new faces! It was wonderful to see. And of course, the oldies (but goodies) who I love to see: Janie Long, Jack Grote, Chris Perry, Justin Harris, Megan Weinand, Olly Wilson, AJ Biggers, Michelle, Aliza…and so many others (I’m not excluding your names for malicious intent, I am just unsure of your level of outness).

I also got news today that I have the opportunity to be in next semester’s show of The Laramie Project. (So psyched!) So while sitting there, just chatting and taking a few photos, I just got the most incredible feeling of how fortunate I am to have all of you in my life. The LGBT Center and Blue Devils United have single handedly provided the best kind of community I could have hoped for. Perhaps this is the sentimental senior in me talking, but I know I am truly lucky to be a part of your lives. So amidst this reflection, I made the decision to start putting some really important conversations in motion.

I left the Chocolate Fountain Social and I called my Nana, to come out to her.

Now, if you know my family’s religious affiliation, you can imagine why I’ve put this off for so long. And to be honest, I have always been terrified of losing my birth family, and my access to their lives. Nana was definitely shocked, because she said, “Well, this is a HUGE shock.”

But you know what? I just told her I feel like I’ve had so much good news to share and I am so happy, that nothing should keep me from communicating with my family. I told her about my house and living with my partner, and how I just want to be sure and respect her boundaries and be open to her questions and opinions.

And she told me, “You have nothing to worry about. I just want to be a part of your life.”

This is so, so, so much better of a conversation than I anticipated. She made sure to remind me what her religious beliefs were, but she did so in the most respectful, beautiful, understanding way. It’ll still be a process, and I’m sure once she recovers from the shock, we can have more conversations.

“Life is too short, it’s not my job to judge anyone.” –My Nana

Thank you all so much for providing the best support and the best community I could have ever hoped for. It is through seeing your smiling faces, as well as hearing any turmoil/struggle/doubt that makes me feel so free to be me.

When I think back to this time freshman year, I would have never believed that things would have turned out this way, but I know I will always look back and think of all of you and be so proud to know you.

Much love, and hope for bright futures,

Summer Puente

WOMYN Wednesday!

[WOMYN magazine is excited to announce that we will be featuring polls from our community in the magazine! The general goal of WOMYN magazine is to increase the visibility of LGBTQ women on this campus.]

BIG NEWS: The submission deadline for WOMYN magazine is in 7 DAYS, or NEXT WEDNESDAY!!! Don't miss out on a chance to publish your thoughts in this semester's publication! Email us your piece at within the next week!

This week's WOMYN poll is:

"Would you speak up in class if you heard the following comment?" (see below)

Click here to vote! (We've also left a comment box for additional ideas or past experiences.)


The following situtation happened in a Duke classroom last week:

In an 8:30am class, within the first 20 minutes of discussion, the conversation turns towards gender. One student in the classroom says, "My friend likes reading Glamour, Cosmo and watching Gossip Girl...but I mean, he's totally normal-he likes girls....".

No one in the class stopped the discussion to remind this student that her comment excluded roughly 10% of the population at large. Do you think you would have spoken up?

(You can view the results of the poll in WOMYN magazine when it hits campus late fall semester!)

[Photo credit: Upper Right, Matt Lyons:]
Want to submit to WOMYN magazine? Click here to look at some ideas of what to submit. All are highly encouraged to submit - LGBTQ and straight-allied. Anyone with a Duke affiliation is eligible to write for WOMYN, including alumni, staff, faculty, undergraduate and graduate students alike.

Check out our website for more information on how to submit, and feel free to email us with any questions you might have:

September 7, 2010

Blog Meeting Tonight!

So our first blog meeting is tonight, y'all. This is pretty much The Event of The Year where we'll discuss goals for the year and divy up responsibilities. Obviously everyone's invited, whether you plan on writing for the site or not. The more the merrier! Two heads are better than one! If the shoe fits!

This doubles as a Cookies From The Lobby Shop Enthusiasts meeting, too. Just saying.

My Room
Kilgo J210
Tonight, 9PM

September 6, 2010

Anonymous Posts

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 we didn't get any anonymous posts this week, which is kind of very :(. On the other hand, it's kind of impressive that this is the first time this has happened since January. When we took over the blog in November there had been 12 anonymous posts in its 11 month life. As of today, we've gotten 117.

But, like, let's have a thousand anonymous posts this week to compensate.

In other news! This Wednesday is the Center's Chocolate Fountain Social in Trinity Cafe (next to the Marketplace). This is always packed and a great time. And Friday night is BDU's first Fall dance party, which I'm also superlookingforward to.

See you there, Community.

September 1, 2010

WOMYN Wednesday!

[WOMYN magazine is excited to announce that we will be featuring polls from our community in the magazine! We want to hear what you have to say about LGBTQ issues, queer women and Duke! The general goal of WOMYN magazine is to increase the visibility of queer women on this campus.]

Thank you to everyone who participated in last week's poll. The responses were great, and if you haven't voted yet you still can.

This week's WOMYN poll is:

"Who is the most dateable female celebrity?"

Click here to vote!

(You can view the results of the poll in WOMYN magazine when it hits campus late fall semester!)

This week we want to take the typical Cosmo or Glamour magazine poll and ask our LGBTA community which woman they find the most intriguing. Who do you think is the most dateable female celebrity right now, LGBTQ or straight? If you'd like analyze this type of pop culture and where queer women's experiences fit into it, think about writing a piece for WOMYN!

* * * *
Want to submit to WOMYN magazine? Click here to look at some ideas of what to submit. (The submission deadline is September 15th.) All are highly encouraged to submit - LGBTQ and straight-allied. Anyone with a Duke affiliation is eligible to write for WOMYN, including alumni, staff, faculty, undergraduate and graduate students alike.

Check out our website for more information on how to submit, and feel free to email us with any questions you might have: