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 bluedevilsunited@gmail.com. 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.

#1
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!

#2
(link) A pretty sobering article and I think an important fact that we all need to get tested.

#3
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?

#4
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.

#5
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?

#6
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.

#7
"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?

#8
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).

#9
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.

18 comments:

  1. #4: my thoughts exactly.

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  2. People, really, it's okay to be single. I'm a straight girl, a senior, and haven't had a boyfriend during my Duke tenure. It's college, relax and have fun. Make friends, that's more important.

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  3. #8 - that was me for 2 years! There's no right/wrong answer to this question. I'm going to leave you with two quotes, given to me by 2 different people: 1) "Don't do anything that makes you uncomfortable" and 2) "Lean into your discomfort". I know those sound contradictory, but I actually think they work really well together. I hope you realize that you're completely normal where you are right now. If you ever want help through this "closeted-awkward stage" as you call it (mine was superrrrr-awkward, I always felt), there are so many people in this community who would love to help you (including myself). I know I asked Aliza to be my wing-woman for like, 5 times, before I *ever* could go to the Center by myself, and I got lunch with her, etc. to talk out my fears. I'd recommend something like that as a baby step, but it's up to you where you want to take this.

    You just have to find a happy medium between quotes 1 & 2. =)

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  4. #4:
    I wish this was like Facebook and there was a "like" button for this. I cannot agree with you more on these sentiments. I've even considered that maybe I'm too out and too active to be attractive to someone that isn't. Honestly, the people that are out are great, but none of them are for me. I also just don't know what else to do. The feelings are so strong and just uncontrollable. It affects my relationships with other people. I just don't want to be alone anymore. Sorry, didn't mean to turn this into another anonymous post but just know that I know how you feel. The only advice I can give is to take pleasure in your other relationships with your friends. Remember that they care about you too. No, it's not the same kind of caring but it helps to know that you are cared for.

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  5. #4: You are everyone and everyone is you.

    You are not alone in this sentiment. I could write out a diatribe but it wouldn't be nearly enough to express how much I feel the same way. With time. It will be worth it. I promise. At least, that's what I tell myself.

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  6. #8: Don't you dare think you aren't fabulous just because you wear earth tones (they're more flattering anyway; I'd cut you if you wore bright orange) and because you don't listen to "enough" Lady GaGa (just promise me you're not listening to Nickelback/Creed).
    First of all, you need to give yourself a break. You are living and working in a strange, new environment while simultaneously trying to come to terms with your sexuality... those are two very big challenges, and I applaud you for not being a total emotional wreck.
    As for the whole "confidence" thing, there really is no concrete answer here. Perhaps I can give you some peace of mind and assure you that everyone is constantly dealing - whether consciously or subconsciously - with all sorts of weird demons and insecurities. I can sure as hell tell you that I had a very specific period in life where I deeply questioned my confidence and, consequently, spent all of my time comparing myself to everyone around me. That period was freshman year. You want to know who else felt that way freshman year? Every single person at this university. EVERYONE.
    Furthermore, things are never as they seem: those "out and proud" freshmen to whom you are referring, though clearly confident in their sexuality, are most likely at least a little unconfident in some other aspect of life. This is not to undermine them but to point out that you have to find your confidence, step by steps, rather than hope it will find you. It is very much a journey, and I will be frank and say you will go to some dark places to find that confidence, but you will also go to some bright, sunny, attractive places... like Duke!
    Sexual orientation is one tough cookie to crumble, so rather than pressuring yourself to "figure it all out," just be patient. Relish the fact that you are a freshman at one of the most beautiful universities in the world, throw yourself into something new, and seek out friendships and relationships that make you feel happy and fulfilled. Get a B instead of an A in that shitty class because you stayed up too late with your new friends, gain the freshman fifteen, and keep all negativity at at least an arm's length away.
    Be good to yourself and to the people around you, and I assure you that your confidence will begin to take form :)

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  7. #3: YES! :D

    #8: I'm thinking the same thing. :( Why are they not sharing the Confidence Juice. But, at least you have some sort of motivation to desire to be more confidence. I stay in the boonies of East Campus (aka, the back dorms, Randolph, Southgate, etc.) and there's only ONE rainbow flag around. Needless to say, I don't see any other freshmen being fabulous and I'm not constantly being reminded of who I want to be but just don't have the guts to be. lol

    Anyways, I am definitely one of those semi-closeted freshmen. :( But, since I'm so dissatisfied with my performance as a first year within the group, I'm going to force myself to try harder and maybe go to the next Fab Friday (that is, if I don't chicken out before then).

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  8. I wish I knew who the anonymous posters were so I could be friends with y'all.

    You folks seem to be flying on the same wavelength I was cruising on awhile back, and I'd love to chat.

    And just a quick note to #1, I wasn't free to go to the first discussion group (Hopefully I can go to the next one!), but it's great to hear that y'all weren't encouraged to identify, so props to whoever was guiding that discussion.

    I would like to also add that discussion groups should end in cuddle puddles.

    That is all.

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  9. Confidence is something you've got to fake until you feel. Just go out there and do you and be you. Push past the anxiety and the little voice telling you how dumb you look. Ignore it and don't succumb to your usual fake identity/persona games. That voice will get softer and softer until you barely hear it anymore. And you'll realize that it isn't so scary out there after all.

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  10. "Confidence is something you've got to fake until you feel"

    I couldn't agree with this more. It's a shame I didn't figure this out until senior year.

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  11. #8: I ask myself this question every day. I see the flags and my friends participating in the parade, but in the meantime, I am holding back because I hold a lot of fear from peers and just my insecurities hold me back. I was even given a flag to hang outside my window. (It's currently on my dresser because I am afraid to hang it up)

    I wish I had this confidence, and if you find it before me, please let me know. But know this: you are certainly not the only semi-closeted freshmen on Duke Campus right now, because I am right there with you. I understand how you may not be too prideful about the "gay" thing as you put it, and that's perfectly okay. What's more important is that you have pride in yourself. You need to be confident in yourself and feel good about who you are as a person, minus the label of gay or homosexual.

    I won't say that I'm not proud to be gay, because it has defined me as a person the more I reflect. But even if the word makes you wince, that's fine, don't think it's bad or abnormal to think these thoughts, because I am right there with you. And you and I are not the only ones. Just because it may seem like everybody has their flags hanging up, take statistics into consideration. Considering a fairly random sample of 1700 freshmen from all walks of life and a population parameter of 4-5% homosexuals, there should be approximately between 68 and 85 flags on East campus. Start counting.

    I have gone to the BDU meetings, and I visited the parade, although I was not on the float. Sometimes as a not-too-openly-gay guy, it can be awkward at these events. But as Megan put it, “lean into your discomfort.” Take it slowly if you want to reach out, go to a BDU meeting or Fab Fridays (I actually haven’t been yet due to illness). Also, find somebody to go with you, because if you are alone, it may seem awkward, and that’s the last thing you want to feel (I’ve been at that point already). Just try and find comfort in yourself though first, then broaden your horizons.

    CK

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  12. Props to Chris and Sasha for general awesomeness in #1! I'm glad your fears went unchecked =)

    #3: I feel like Duke may have been on it once, although that might just be some sort of confusion or Deja Vu...

    #4: Hey you, I know that you're probably trying and that you're probably immensely frustrated and I agree with 6:37 and :54 anon posts, I could definitely write essays on the subject too, but the point is that you can't get too down about one part of your life (I understand it's probably super super important to you, but still) and try to focus on all the wonderful things about it, maybe like new friends and experiences, or interesting classes. I'm not saying to completely ignore that you're missing something (because we're all missing something in our own ways) but that I personally wouldn't make my life centered around something that I don't have because that's not a life I'm entirely comfortable with.

    Hey #5, so any paranoia that you're feeling is probably justified (because no one's feelings can really be wrong, right?) but if you're feeling anything rock AT ALL you should probably just talk to him about it and maybe tell him that even though he says it's all alright on his end it still doesn't feel alright. If you make him talk about it and actually sit and talk about it, you'd probably feel better. Or at least I would.

    Oh #6...I don't really know what to say to make you feel any better. I suppose you could just try not to focus on what you should have done and focus on what you can do. That's all the helpful advice I can give without telling you what TO do. It's your decision to do what makes you comfortable, but you need to do things at your own pace.

    Hey #7, I know it's probably super hard for you to try to get in to an experience since you're not out. But it kindasortamaybe sounds like you don't want to generate the awkward or difficult situation that is the coming out process. Everyone has their own ways of coming out, I suppose, but I think that using the element of surprise ( in a sense) is probably not ideal, especially with your parents. I would personally feel the need to come out on my own and be comfortable with LGBT me as an individual before I became okay with being in a couple. And part of being comfortable, I think, is to come out. Even in the smallest sense.

    #8, people have totally already answered you, but I'm going to go ahead and do it too, I guess haha. There are SO many awkward closeted freshmen and people in general who aren't prideful, just take a look at some of the anon posts below or something. Also, the people that you see only seem high in numbers because they're so visible. But I bet that if you took it back a step you would probably realized that the number of flags(or visibility) v. the number of LGBT Identified people is pretty small. That being said, it is growing. Amen Anon. @ 6:37...

    #9: Take it slow, dear. You son't have to feel bad because you weren't completely comfortable being out. No one expects that you come to college, are gay and then IMMEDIATELY IMMERSED IN EVERYTHING GAY EVER.

    People understand that it's a process and it's a pretty difficult thing. I have a friend who went to her first pride as a senior, so you definitely are not along in any sense of the word =)

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  13. #8: You could say that I'm one of those "fabulous" and out freshman. I go to all the BDU meetings and even went to the recent Gaga concert. What I'll say is this; for every "out and confident" person you meet, there used to be a vulnerable person who was not only sad and alone, but desperately afraid of being open in the world. Most of us have been there, or at least I can promise you that I have, it's just a matter of when we began the process. I may have gotten a head start, but the feelings are the same. I sincerely hope that you find the courage and strength to be proud of who you are, but in the mean time, try to cut yourself some slack. College is a huge transition without having to come out, so take it easy and go at your own pace.

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  14. #8: While I'm not quite as fabulous as Jacob, I can still second everything he's saying. I know that personally, three years ago, I was almost exactly where you are now. I was out to my friends at school, but the thought of *being* out, of everyone knowing, terrified me. I couldn't imagine being where I am today. The magical elixir of confidence isn't actually particularly magical -- it's just a matter of gradually becoming more at ease with yourself (unless someone has an actual magical elixir, in which case, I could still really use some). Do whatever you're comfortable with, and as everyone else has been saying, don't feel at all pressured. I'm actually really impressed that you've even had time to think about it -- classes are *killing* me. Good luck with everything.

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  15. #1:
    Thank YOU for coming - I got a lot out of it, too. Asking everyone to identify would be a little bit completely the opposite of the whole safe-space thing that we're going for so DON'T WORRY, Anyone. I was even hesitant to ask for names, but then I realized that it presented a great opportunity for people to make up names if they wanted. Mom used to do that at every table she waitressed way back. haha.

    Anyhow. Yes! See you there. Don't stress about having to share or anything, we're assuming that a lot of people just want to sit back and listen. And that's totally legit.

    #2:
    This guy that worked at a local "gay men's" clinic in DC came to the HRC to talk to the interns about the work he does. The statistics are kind of scary (especially in cities and especially especially in DC). Luckily most STIs can be treated very easily and cheaply, but can be very damaging if not addressed (keep in mind that you can be asymptomatic, People). Getting tested is scary, but regardless of whether you come back positive for something and now you have a plan of treatment or everything is negative and no stress, either situation is better than the limbo of ambiguity.

    Maybe Veronica can get us some information about getting tested on/close to campus?

    #3:
    Right. So I'm not sure what all of the details were, but Duke used to be on a list (US News?) of Top 10 or 20 LGBT-friendly campuses. Which sounds pretty cool! Which sounds pretty cool. But the problem was that the Community at the time (this was before I got involved - maybe 3? 4? years ago) didn't feel like it was deserved. As in, Duke certainly didn't feel like a top 20 LGBT-friendly campus. The system by which they determine things like this is kind of controversial - apparently a lot was based on student interviews that Student Affairs put up and knew would give favorable assessments. In the end, the rating may have actually even hurt progress on campus, because it conveys to administration, etc. that everything is OK. It's hard to make a case for improvement when a magazine is lauding you for status quo.

    But! Nonetheless. It is certainly a worthwhile venture to think "Ok, what does a top LGBT-friendly campus look like. What does it feel like, ideally." To have a long-term plan that we can measure ourselves against. And if a magazine/journal/whatever wants to recognize us for that, we'll that'd be awesome. And we'd felt like we earned it.

    #4:
    I hear you. I mean, statistically, the numbers aren't exactly working in Our favor. There are straight people that feel the same way, and they've got a selection pool that's what, 10 times larger? At least? Keep in mind the size of Duke, and even then keep in mind the number of out gays that you're "selecting" from. Even if you are active in the Community, and attend events, etc.

    That doesn't sound like The Most Optimistic Thing, but if you think about how your post-Duke life is going to just explode your possibilities. Which is not to say that all hope is lost here on campus, #4. I've seen a LOT change in just one night. Holy shit. But if you take solace in statistics like I do, empirically your chances will get better.

    I'm leaning away from the "it's ok to be single" argument (which is nonetheless so very true) because I think you've heard it a thousand times before. But let me say this: it is much better to be single than be in a relationship that isn't healthy or causes too much stress or requires too much effort. Don't force anything, #4.

    I feel a need for that physical and emotional connection, too, and I find that in my best friends. I'm obviously not talking about sex, and the emotional part is [just] short of what I'd hopefully find in a relationship, but I take solace in close friendships.

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  16. 7: What you said about not wanting to come out being just bringing home a boyfriend for Thanksgiving really resonates with me. Does it matter who I have a crush on or notice on the quad until something comes from it? Not to mention, the idea of talking about my personal sexuality with family seems weird. Not only do straight people not have to do this, but they also don't talk about the intimate details of what turns them on. Coming out, without having a significant other,sort of seems like divulging intimate details about what turns you on and telling your parents that is sort of uncomfortable, if you ask me.

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  17. Anonymous 5:37,

    Yeah it's weird to think about everyone forming a mental image of you having sex every time you come out, but I've come to terms with the fact that just about everybody projects these images every day. If you see a hetero couple holding hands or wearing wedding rings, yeah they're probably fucking. When you see parents pushing baby strollers around East campus, you know they fucked without protection and he came all up inside her. Every time you shake someone's hand, it's a safe bet that that hand touched a penis or vagina within the last 24 hours. It's no big secret that people have sex, and I don't think an orientation toward a particular gender should be too intimate a detail for others to know about (it's not like you're announcing to the world, "Here's a list of my favorite positions!"). Also, being gay isn't just about sex, and you can at least trust most people's defense mechanisms that prevent them from thinking about their close ones having sex or masturbating (e.g. I'm sure the image of grandma and grandpa fucking doesn't come to mind every time you look at your parents). Similarly, maybe your parents wouldn't immediately think about the bedroom and instead think about you living with and marrying a person of the same sex.

    Uncomfortable, yes. Normal, yes.

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  18. #8 I am one of those "out" freshman, though by appearance you would never guess. Personally, I feel that the use of "proud" is misinterpreted to flaunting a stereotypical image of a gay/lesbian in a person's face. I think that real pride is acknowledging that you are gay/lesbian and not being afraid to tell others of your sexuality.

    When I gained my confidence in being gay, my support came from not only my parents, but from close friends I had at a summer program. They gave me the strength to be proud of who I was. During that summer, I attempted to follow that stereotypical image by trying to establish the "dialect," the fashion interests, and certain musical tastes. However, as the year progressed, I realized that I felt compeltely uncomfortable with that identity. I am not a huge Lady Gaga fan (there, I just said it hahaha) as an example. To #8, I highly recommend that you gradually tell your closest friends. That way, you'll create a core basis of support and slowly wittle away the insecurities that are unfortunately imposed on us by society. Also, the more people you tell, the easier it becomes.

    Being truly proud of being gay is not necessarily equivalent to rainbow flags, fabulous clothing, glitter, Lady Gaga(in reference to her music, not her advocacy for gays, which is amazing) etc. It's accepting it and showing that it is a regular part of your life instead of the sole defining feature of you. Continue to wear the earth tone clothing if you feel the most comfortable in them instead of forcing yourself into that identity. If it turns out that you like that, do not hesitate. Otherwise, you'll only be setting yourself back from achieving true pride by draping insecurity within complex, intricate disguises, no matter how fabulous that may appear to be.

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