September 20, 2010

Anonymous Posts
(9.13.10-9.19.10)


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 :)

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 bluedevilsunited@gmail.com. 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.

#1
I love, love, LOVE this blog. that is all.

#2
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.

#3
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. :/

22 comments:

  1. #2: As someone who doesn't come across as gay immediately, I totally see your point of view. I think you should know, however, that going to the center and having non-lgbt friends aren't mutually exclusive. Honestly, its like 2-3 hours a week- I go, I eat some free food, I make new friends and catch up with old ones. You're only as involved-socially or otherwise- as you choose to be. Give it a visit, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.

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  2. #3, I am very much in the same situation as you (I am poster #5 on last week's anonymous posts), although I do not have a girl chasing after me, so props to you. Aside from that, I also broke up with a great friend and first boyfriend this summer because of distance. My ex is the reason I came out to more of my friends and even my mom this summer, and now that we are broken up and I am in a new environment, I feel like I have to redefine myself as being gay. Similar situation, I am not the most-obvious gay guy, although I do have my moments. Aside from the BDU crew, I’d say only four other people here at Duke know I’m gay (with one from my school who is here and the other my roommate), of course all of them straight, so it’s not the easiest environment to just tell them everything in my little gay world.

    At least you had spoken to your ex on a fairly regular basis before he told you that news; I have only messaged my ex a couple times since being up here. But truth is, he was the one I could talk to without being judged and I could be myself, and I feel that, I too, have lost that up here. From going to the BDU meetings, I have one person that I can tell some things to, and not feel too judged, but at the same rate, I don’t feel like I can just bare my soul to a new friend that I’ve known for three weeks. And that is still going to apply to you because you’ve only been here for so long. Give it time, and you will have that friend to whom you can tell everything, or most everything. But I would say try and find more LGBT friends around campus because you will be able to connect with them in a different manner. I was deathly afraid to go to the BDU meetings and the chocolate fountain social, and even still I am afraid to go, just because there are times where I don’t feel I belong because of my introversion, but I have to reach out of my comfort zone just enough to know what it’s like. If you don’t like it the first meeting, I say give it one more try, and then if it just doesn’t work, then it’s okay to not go; don’t feel forced to be a member, but we welcome you if you visit. And you will be treated like a human being, because that’s what you are, a real, live, breathing human.

    I’m also confused, and there are times when I’m not happy, I don’t know what to do, and I just want it to be over and want to live a “normal” life. That’s called maturing, and it sucks now, but in the end, you and I know well that it will all be okay. You are not in this alone, so don’t feel like it’s just you.

    I wish I could give you my contact info, just so you know that there someone that you can try and talk to. Then my comment wouldn’t be anonymous, and my anonymity is important because I’m not too open about being gay still. But I hope to meet you around, maybe at a BDU meeting. There is always somebody there to talk to.

    Sorry for making the comment longer than the actual post.
    -CK

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  3. #1 -- You're awesome. Keep reading!

    #2 -- You don't need me to tell you that you're not required to go to the Center. You don't have to be a part of a movement or give your time to social demonstrations. Just please don't let it bother you when other people do. It's for good reasons.

    For many people who do, it's still not central to their lives, like me for example. I have much more going on in my life than LGBT advocacy and outreach, it's not all of who I am, and the majority of my friends are straight. I also don't go to the Center looking for a hook-up. I go there to see nice people and chill on a comfortable couch. I think it's important that we become accustomed to others' differences, like a "flamboyant tone" of voice, because they don't make anyone less than another and they shouldn't be hidden.

    #3 -- I'm sorry you feel trapped. I can't pretend to know your particular circumstances, but I don't know anyone who's truly happy allowing that sort of entrapment to continue. There are plenty of people whom you'll find accepting and willing to listen. You're not alone here. You can talk to me if you want to.

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  4. #1: Thanks, it's always super nice to hear that this blog is appreciated =)

    #2:I agree with the commenter above me. Also, the Center is a great place for resources and is just another place to hang out. You don't have to be LGBT identified (I'm not), but the point is that it is a safe space. To go to the Center is not to be defined by it [and many who go to the Center are not inherently defined by it as well], which is why I take a bit of offense to the comment about the rainbow sized prisons. I am personally a huge proponent of visibility because it's harder to see a persons sexuality verses their skin color. That said, you don't have to like what the "Center Gays" do, but you have to at least respect that they are willing to risk carrying their controversial identity on their sleeves.
    The group under fire is trying to make sure that they are more careful about what they say and how they approach recommending the Center, making sure not to push it on people etc. but you shouldn't criticize what they do with their lives. Hanging a flag is a personal choice that a person wishes to make, and if you ask any of the people who have flags you may be pleasantly surprised to find that it is a very personal choice and experience.

    I'll close with this,

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gay_and_Lesbian_Kingdom_of_the_Coral_Sea_Islands

    It is actually kind of a country flag.

    #3: Sorry if you had to scroll a bit to read it, I like to type...
    I really wish I could give you a big ol' hug, and if you want, I'm at UNC, but I'm always open if you want to message me on facebook, Swati Rayasam. You may be right about your ex moving on so quickly, but don't be so sure. He may have just done something with some guy so that he could try to get over you etc. There's a chance that he's hurting as much as you are and just doesn't want you to know or worry. But, don't text him or talk to him assuming that without knowing it for fact, because it could get awkward. Also, I'm sure that if you wanted to talk to Janie Long or something she wouldn't mind meeting for coffee or a walk or something, just ask her. The worst she can say is no and refer you to someone who fits your needs more.

    I hope that helped a little...if any =)

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  5. #2 said: "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..."

    I can understand not supporting or enjoying the Center. I am not LGBT and I don't particularly identify with the culture at the Center either. But I don't support people denigrating other people for their sexuality or personality. I just don't. And that's what you are doing here, #2. Some people here may meet your definition of 'flamboyant.' The way they walk, talk, dress, or shimmy down the Plaza may make your skin crawl. But you need to think long and hard about why you have such a problem with them. Just because flamboyance grosses you out doesn't make it OK to look down on those for whom 'flamboyance' is natural. Why are you so disgusted by them? Why do you want them to stop acting 'flamboyantly'?

    Your condescension toward people who were made differently than you doesn't make you a cool nonconformist. It makes you seem like you're scared to be associated with others who are a little bit "too gay," because they would unsettle your safe little world. It's normal, considering how homophobic our culture is, for you to be scared of gayness, to recoil from it. You're free to be you. But watch yourself if your fear makes you hate others for being who they are.

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  6. I'm #3:

    To CK: If you ever wanna contact me, send me an e-mail at my old e-mail: stradermutt@hotmail.com. You can contact me there and we can talk in anonymity haha. :)

    Spencer: As creepy and awkward as this sounds, I've actually seen you around a bit, you seem like a great guy. Hopefully one of these days I'll get the chance to talk to you.

    To everyone else: Thank you so much for your support. :) I really hope one day I can get the courage to meet you all because you all seem like amazing people.

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  7. #3 -- That's not creepy at all. Since I don't know who you are, I'll have to leave it up to you to talk to me. But if you want to, know that I always enjoy good conversation.

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  8. #2:

    Don't go to the Center. If you don't feel comfortable there, don't go. It's not for everyone and it may not be for you. I don't go to the Center just because I've never felt the need to. I've always had my group of friends that have been by me for three years now even after I came out as gay and it was fine. I understand how you feel about feeling pressured to go, as though you're a bad gay if you don't go to the Center and become active in everything, basically becoming a SuperGay. I, also, find the flamboyance of some people unsettling. I think some of the above commenters may not have understood what you meant (or I could just be completely off) but, to me, it sounds like you just are comfortable with some of the more extreme personalities and it's okay. I don't think you're being condescending at all. Even as someone that is openly gay, I still kinda cringe when I see a guy in heels or a woman with extra-baggy clothes on. It's not out of disdain for them, but more of it just being a little out of my realm of comfort. I don't think you or I are any more to blame for that than a heterosexual who cringes at two homosexuals making out. They just aren't comfortable with it and it takes time. As for the rainbow-sized prisons you mention, I, again agree with you, but in this way: It seems that some gay people like to stick to only other gays and pretend that no one and nothing else exists outside of their gay world. This is true of many minority groups. I think it is important that everyone keep an open-mind and not seclude themselves away from other people that are different from then. Everyone is different, even people within the same minority group. It's imperative that even people within the minority group remember that some of its own members may view things differently than them and it's absolutely ok.

    I really like the idea of being able to talk a little more personally so here's my email address if you want to talk more: legaleagle1084@yahoo.com

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  9. "I'm going to be a little strict until then to be on the safe side." aka you will be censoring hard core. Surprise me and post this.

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  10. only three anonymous posts this week? maybe the censorship bit really is a bad look...

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  11. "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."

    I've got an idea! Let's move BDU out of the center and turn it into a real ally organization/one where closeted kids will feel comfortable.

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  12. how can i "like" the three comments above?

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  13. #3: I sent you a quick e-mail, just so you have my e-mail. You can reply if you want, but take advantage of talking to me or Spencer or Swati. We want to help out, we wouldn't say we want to help if we didn't.

    CK

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  14. To the anonymous commenters above: it's possible for us to express our thoughts without being sarcastic, rude, or nasty. We as commenters on this blog are just as responsible as the editors for giving a sense of friendliness and openness to this site. You can't complain about the editors driving away anonymous posters in the same post as you use a nasty, mocking tone. You are driving people away from this site rather than welcoming them. Remember that.

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  15. hey #3 I'm a freshman in a pretty similar boat so let me know if you ever want to chat or anything

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  16. I think it's really heartwarming that people who aren't necessarily comfortable going to the center are now using this blog to meet each other! Awesome!

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  17. Well considering you're anonymous that'd be pretty hard. Shoot me an e-mail at stradermutt@hotmail.com if you wanna meet up or anything.

    Sincerely, #3.

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  18. #1: Thanks for reading and contributing! :) I love it, too.

    #2:
    Right. Well, I truly hope that during the BDU meeting and in anything I've written afterward I never conveyed that "people who didn't support the Center" were not "rational, thoughtful, or human." Because that is just not a true thing, I agree!

    I'm not sure if this anonymous post was written before my essaything went up, but I feel like I addressed this there. Where it's not really fair to tell anyone to not do something they want to do that isn't really hurting anybody. I'd also challenge the assumption that those who are active in the Community don't have straight friends (or aren't straight themselves).

    And I feel like I cannot do this point justice in a comment, but I'd regret not pointing out the distinction between the problem with stereotypes and the non-problem of being stereotypical.

    #3:
    Whattup.

    The assumption of straightness can be superawkward and uncomfortable, I hear you. That's pretty much the story of my first coupla months at Duke, and ugh. I guess I could have just obviated it, like you said, but I just didn't know how to. And it was really intimidating. I eventually just surrounded myself with straight girls (or at least that's how they were identifying at the time lol). And they were great and all, and I was out to them, and they were certainly sympathetic but I was missing the empathy that I think I was starving for more than anything.

    I wish I had gone to the Center sooner. It took me a year+ and the motivation of catching the attention of somebody that I knew was going to be at this one event (sketch of me, no doubt). But once I had met this Community and began to interact with it more and more, it was just perfect for me. Conversations were just easier and a lot less energy had to be spent explaining things, because Everyone Else already knew where I was coming from. And I also realized that I wasn't the only one on campus who was struggling with a lot of things (and I mean, I had been out for years and comfortable with it and all) that I was. I didn't see myself represented in the paradigm of Duke Culture, and that was disheartening. I mean, statistically, it was illogical for me to assume that I was one of four gay kids on campus, but to find out first hand that I wasn't alone was really just... nice.

    And no, the Center isn't for everyone, and you might be like, "effff thisssss." It looks like a bunch of people above me have offered friendship on more of a one-on-one basis, which might be a little less overwhelming. Add me to the list :)

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  19. I am offended by the term "straight". Does that imply people who prefer homosexual romantic endeavors are somehow "crooked" or abnormal? Is this something you think about? "Gay" is not that great a term, either. "Homosexual" is worse (as it seems to make sexual preference your defining thing). But straight just seems wrong.

    It's just interesting to me how people use this language so lightly, it seems.

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  20. Understood, 11:38. Cool point. Do you think there's a better term/What do you use? I guess heterosexual could be used, but in doing so you're normalizing homosexual.

    And what's wrong with "gay"? Or how do you feel about "queer"?

    I'm brimming with questions haha. Language is really interesting to me, actually, and I think something that's important.

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  21. In regard to language:

    Heterosexual and homosexual are words, not people. By using them as an identity term, it creates this false priority. I am A GAY? I am A HETEROSEXUAL?

    No. You are whoever you are. You may engage in same-sex sexual activity. "Homosexual" and "heterosexual" are behaviors. I

    Get rid of "straight". I don't know what term would be less offensive.

    But when talking about sexuality, why can't we just say: "I prefer to have sex with males, or females" Or "I engage in homosexual behavior"

    By deconstructing it, we decrease opportunities for stereotyping, no?

    But people love to Give Titles to people. To Classify. I AM A WHITE. I AM A GAY. "I am human and I need to be loved" (sorry, that song came in my head).

    But everytime I hear straight I cringe. Just like when I hear "That's so gay" "fag" etc.

    I don't know much about queer.

    All this concern with language may just be a defense mechanism so I don't have to "come out"

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  22. When we say someone is a robber, a rapist, a kleptomaniac, an accountant, a hothead, a lover, etc. you're using nouns yes, but essentially describing a quality in a referential way (that groups other experiences, so it's more so a generalization than a stereotype). That's how language works.

    I believe it's fairly clear that when someone calls someone homosexual they are indicating that the individual in question "prefers to have sex with other individuals of the same sex." So I'm not sure what distinction you're actually making. I suppose it is in somewhat poor taste to use the word with an indefinite or definite article, and I think there's some probably rightful suspicion of a person who refers to "a homosexual" or "the gays."

    I too like to bend the vernacular use of straight, just to kind of subvert the mainstream, and I sometimes refer to both 0's and 6's on the Kinsey scale as being "straight," i.e. going exclusively with one gender. But now, there's not really a logical argument I can use to validate this, since language is operated on just being able to communicate ideas in a pretty much standard-utilitarian type way—thus "straight" implying some sort of default might hurt your feelings, but I guess that's the way it goes.

    I agree that language is interesting, and I don't think your concerns are a defense mechanism of any sort. Just understand that identities are entirely optional and you don't have to sublimate your aversion to this kind of social grouping in order to affirm yourself in any way; gay and straight is just an essentially natural human shorthand (laziness of the brain, perhaps) that we (maybe mindlessly) prescribe in order to conceptualize each other. You don't have to participate in this game, but I don't know how constructive it is to be angry at it, either.

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