October 27, 2010

The Importance of November's Election for Our Community

[Ed. Note: Say hi to our newest blogger, y'all :) 2014 continues to rep.]

For those of you who do not know me, allow me to introduce myself. My name is Dan Wood. I am a first year student at Duke and I intend to study Mechanical Engineering and Material Sciences. I am gay and open about it to everyone who wants to know. I love running, music, and good literary and intellectual discussions. With out much further delay, let me begin my first post.

Allow me get a little patriotic. It is not only your right, but your duty, as an American citizen to vote. This pertains not only presidential elections, but the Congressional mid-term elections as well. In order for crucial bills, such as ENDA (employment non-discrimination act), to be signed into law, the United States Congress must be composed of a majority of LGBTQ supporters (and technically a 60% 'super majority' in the senate to break a filibuster which usually results in a bill's failure).

If LGBTQ supporters are elected into office this November, a rippling mandate will quake through Washington, one which informs Congress men and women that their constituents support the LGBTQ agenda. It matters not whether you would take a bullet for Obama or rather have a raging herd of red elephants march through Washington. If you support the LGBTQ movement (which I assume most of you do if you are indeed reading this), your political affiliation does not matter for this upcoming mid-term election. Issues such as marriage equality and gay military service will likely be addressed in the 111th Congress. We must elect supporters of our movement into office this November.

If you do not know whether or not your incumbent representatives and senators voted in favor of the LGBTQ agenda, the HRC (Human Rights Campaign) has conveniently created a scorecard of the 2008 congress. This scorecard tallies all of a Congress man or woman's votes on LGBTQ issues and gives them a score in the form of a percentage. The higher the score, the more supportive that given representative or senator is. I have provided a link to the scorecard at the end of this post. I know it may look big and time consuming to read, but for the sake of the movement, please at least look at the congress men and women in your district.

October 25, 2010

Anonymous Posts (10.18.10-10.24.10)

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 :)

Whoa. Whoa. Whoa your boat. So much is going on this week. The Most is going on this week.

Tonight is the second LGBT Discussion group at 7 in the Center. The first one was, uh, freaking awesome and a ton of people came. Let's do that! Let's do that again, Readers. Tomorrow night there's a blog meeting in my room (Kilgo J 210) at 9. Don't worry, it's right after Glee. This is also consistently an awesome time that more often than not devolves into a dance party/movie night by 10 or 11. Come! Come. As always, it's a great way to meet people and get involved (or not get involved! Whatever. The more the merrier (lol)).

Cookies will be served at both events because duh, cookies will be served at both events.

Tomorrow night before the blog meeting and before Glee are the drag show auditions. (Which I may be auditioning for? To emcee? I have not auditioned for anything since the Wizard of Oz in 5th grade and we all know how that turned out.) Aaaand there's a BDU meeting on Wednesday night.

Personally, my academic trainer and extraordinary woman Laila Sharafi (double majoring in Civil Engineering and Keeping Chris in School) made me go to her room at 8:30 AM today (as in, 8:30 in the morning. Just to clarify) to do the steel homework that I've been putting off in order to make the greatest Excel spreadsheet ever to streamline the process of installing 250+ pride flags that've been requested all over campus (if you signed up for a flag, fret not! We're just figuring out the best way to put these up/replace any that may be stolen). Anyhow. I just did Steel for 8 hours. That is so many hours! Not to mention more than zero hours doing Steel.

So I'm a little tired and loquacious and rambly and need to eat my peanut butter and nutella sandwich and get my life together before the discussion group. Mhm.

Anonymous posts, yo.

I can't take it anymore. If one more gay man I know overlooks the women in our LGBTQ community, I'm going to just stop coming to events.

I've been open and out as bi for approximately forever, and I'm so glad the Center exists here. But at the same time, I'm a shy and awkward person and I feel like every time I go into the Center, I'm out-socialed by everyone there. How do I talk to people? How do I not sound like an idiot? I've figured out how to do casual conversation, I think, but I can't stick to that forever. I don't get how social glue works. I want to make friends, but I don't know how. Okay, so this isn't exactly gay-related, but I feel like the Center is the sort of space that would be safe to learn in--and I so desperately want to learn.

Anyone struggling/coming out? This is a great story, and really cute. Don't tell anyone, but it's a soap opera (But german, so that makes it acceptable. Did I mention I'm glad this is anonymous :-P Fear not, it has english subtitles.) It's now 5 15 am, and I have to be up in 2 hours, but I've been watching it for like 4 hours. First third or so, especially... (link)

Not sure it's what's supposed to be what we post on here, but it's a really nice happy reassuring story... Enjoy <3

My heart goes out to all of Duke's closeted/semi-closeted gays who remain that way out of fear that their parents will stop paying tuition if they find out. We understand your struggle and we feel for you. Stay strong <3

Where are all my queer Asian women at? (And, yes, Asia covers more an East Asia, y'all)

October 18, 2010

Anonymous Posts (10.11.10-10.17.10)

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 :)

I think it's safe to say that Friday saw a most colorful, dancey and successful Coming Out Day. Everybody really stepped up to help set up in the morning and then stuck around to hand out tee shirts (or, in Justin Harris' case, to throw stress hearts at random, unsuspecting passerbys (passerbies?)). I didn't hear any complaints about the music, which I'm pretty proud of. The LGBT demo is a tough crowd when it comes to song selection, and I was necessarily meticulous with my choices. I got away with playing just one Britney song (I'll admit "Stronger" is pretty awesome) and, like, Beyonce's entire catalogue. Probably the most fun I've had in a very long time, so thanks to Megan Weinand for letting me DJ, not to mention organizing the entire event!

In other news! The second Women Loving Women discussion group will be held tomorrow from 6-8 PM in the Center, and this Monday'll see the second LGBT discussion group of the semester that I'm co-facilitating for the Center. There were so many people there last time, it'd be awesome to see just as many if not more this time around. As I said after last meeting, we're thinking of breaking up into smaller groups when a thousand people show up on Monday? Maybe that'd be more conducive to a more intimate, personalized discussion?

Also, uh, this dropped today:

You crazy for this one, Gays. Though it's kind of weird to hear a 9 year old talk about haters.

Anyway! Anonymous posts for the week, Everyone.

I just have something that I need to get off my chest.

I'm a first year student here at duke, and I was thrilled when I realized that the gay community is as strong as it is. I know I definitely chose the right school. However, to me, the 'hook-up' culture here is somewhat disturbing. I feel like within the first few weeks, the gay community as a whole acted like a ravenous pack of sex-deprived animals. I couldn’t go a day without hearing news of a new hook-up after any number of the scandalous parties here. Eventually, as the excitement depleted and classes started getting harder, the community either hitched up with a single mate, or became content with their lack thereof. I am, in no way, complaining about what I presume to be a current state of dormancy. I am wondering, however:

Is it just me, or has the rate or amount of hook-ups generally gone down since O-week?

I love the acceptance that I've found at Duke when being perceived as a lesbian. There are so many resources here and such a vibrant community for queer women that if I were gay and female, I know I would be happy. But here's the rub: I'm not a lesbian, I'm pre-transition. Where are all the trans folk? It's strange, in a place with so much acceptance and tolerance for GLB men and women, to still feel like I'm the only one like me.

I'm an ally who's begun to realize that my group of friends here wouldn't accept me if I were gay. As many times as I tell them "that's gay" isn't an acceptable insult, or any kind of insult at all, nothing changes, and at this point my telling them it's not okay is becoming a joke to them. I'm a junior and it feels like it's way too late in the game to make any changes (as I've been actively trying to for a long time) and I'm wondering if this is just the way Duke is for some people. It's hugely important to me not to let the issue go, but at what point do I just give up on my friends and spend the next two years in the library?

So, there's all this news about DADT enforcement halting (link) and the injuction from the 9th district, but apparently SLDN is still advising servicemembers to stay in the closet, claiming we're "still in a vulnerable place." So, my question is, how much longer do I have to wait before I can act on my God given right to snog in front of the Chapel in broad daylight? Can I go do that right now? Because that would be cool.

What do you do if you've tried to be part of the community, but you just don't fit in?

Coming Out Day Wrap-Up

[Ed. Note: This year, we've decided to recap BDU and Center events with pictures and firsthand accounts. When Matt B. was unable to attend this Friday (he has yet to understand that class is optional and how to prioritize accordingly), first-year Jacob stepped up because of how being a superstar works. Thanks Jacob!]

I’m not sure if I’ll ever forget the moment when I walked through the archway and onto the Bryan Center Plaza for the first time on Coming Out Day. Thanks to Megan Weinand and all of her AMAZING work, there were rainbows everywhere—on flags, posters, balloons, pins, pens, cookies, and even tablecloths—and the energy that buzzed in my ears was so contrary to what I normally feel on campus that I couldn’t help but smile. To sum it up in a word, it was wonderful.

I spent the day flitting about between the many different tables that were on the plaza, eating skittles from the BDU table, saying hello to my friends, and offering them free pride flags and “love = love” t-shirts. But aside from the pride flags, the brochures, and the wonderful music wafting over the plaza, something so much more important was happening: I was finally beginning to get the sense that I have a family here on campus. Sometime between running to the printer in Perkins to get sign-up sheets for the BDU table and taping posters onto the trees in the plaza, or perhaps sometime between eating the rainbow-sprinkled cookies at the Jewish Center table and hugging Summer for the fifteenth time, I thought to myself this is home. I’m not sure when it hit me, and I’m not sure exactly how it did, but at some point during the day I began to feel for the first time that the enigma that is Duke University, with all of its faults and eccentricities, was something more than where I went to school.

The event was an extraordinary thing for our campus, and it was a fantastic way to show our solidarity and love, but looking back on it, I can’t help but feel that something fundamental was missing. For a day that was supposed to be about coming out, I never once heard someone say the words “I’m gay.” Yes, it was a display of our community’s pride and support, but it was only about the end result of coming out. On Coming Out Day, we celebrate the end result of being yourself, but we don’t really talk about what we’ve all been through to get there.

And I guess that’s what I want to share with you, my dear readers, and especially with those of you who are still struggling in the closet. What you saw on Coming Out Day was the end result, but don’t think that it was the whole story. Yes, you saw me strutting around the plaza celebrating who I am, but don’t think that that is something that’s always been easy for me to do. I’ve been there too; I know how dark it can be in the closet and I’ve learned how hard it is to open the door; I know how terrifying it can be to think that your friends and family would disown you if they knew who you really were; I have been through the crushing marginalization that comes with identifying as gay; and I have experienced the terror and joy that comes with first uttering the words, “Mom, Dad, I’m gay.”

So when you walk by the BC Plaza on Coming Out Day and see all of the colors, know that they symbolize not only the joy of being who you are, but also the struggles of getting there. When I celebrate on Coming Out Day, I not only celebrate who I am; I celebrate how far I’ve come as an individual, how far we’ve come as a community, and how close I’ve grown to my family here at Duke.

Come and celebrate with me.

October 14, 2010

A Rarity in Women's Basketball; Duke Leads the Way

I have a serious academic interest in sport and in this column I’ll be highlighting current events, sharing resources, reflecting on complex issues and sharing athlete’s stories among other things. For more about me, you can read my first post, here. Please feel free to email me with thoughts or if you come across something you’d like me to include on the blog.

Basketball season starts this week. Friday, to be exact. That's tomorrow, for those of you thrown off by fall break starting our week on a Wednesday. For most Duke students, that probably means attending Countdown to Craziness, painting our faces in blue and white, losing our voices and engaging in traditional cheers all for the first time this year (or if you’re a first year, your first time ever). If you’re a manager for one of the basketball teams, it means working a three hour practice (which means working for at least four hours, mind you), filling up more water cups, chasing down and rebounding more balls, wiping up more sweat, and resetting the shot clock more times than you have during the previous four weeks of preseason work outs. And if you happen to play basketball for Duke, it means surrenduring your soul social life for the remainder of the school year (and you thought the school year just started!).

So, what’s that have to do with anything? Well, every so often Duke Women’s Basketball releases a question and answer style update on the life of a former player. Most (though not all) of these “Catching Up” pieces ask a question about the alumna’s spouse and kids. It’s a pretty heteronormative question and I always wondered if they only asked it of straight athletes (I sort of figured that they only asked it if they knew that person was in fact married, though I don’t know this for a fact). But what about a player who was in a committed same-sex partnership? Would Duke Women’s Basketball ask former players they knew to have a partner about this aspect of their lives, the same as they ask their straight counterparts? Or would it be a matter of reporting on the relationships of the straight athletes while simply not reporting on the “love lives” of any LGB-identified former players, thereby ignoring any same-sex relationships?

My skepticism isn’t unfounded. Women’s basketball—both the professional and collegiate ranks—along with other women’s sports—has a sort of complicated relationship with the LGBTQ community. The WNBA, for instance, is notorious for highlighting on their website and during telecasts the weddings, kids and spouses of straight players while never mentioning the commitment ceremonies and partners of LGB-identified players. This is a different issue than the internal culture of teams—though they’re not necessarily totally unrelated to one another. But as advertising/fan outreach goes—it’s rare to see coverage of an LGB-identified athlete which acknowledges their sexuality. I want to recognize that it’s possible that this lack of coverage is at the request of the athlete, but I have a hard time believing that every athlete falls into this category [especially considering that it occasionally comes up in other, non league/team related publications, but then is never highlighted on that league’s/team’s website, the way that other news releases and articles are indexed]. This isn't unique unto the WNBA. It's the story across the board.

Well, I’m here to applaud Duke Women’s Basketball, GoDuke.com and Nicole Erickson! This June, Duke Sports Information posted a question and answer feature called “Catching up with Former Hoops Player Nicole Erickson.” In her interview, Erickson mentions her partner of nine years multiple times!

When GoDuke asked her “Do you have a spouse and children?” She answered that “I have been in a nine-year relationship and we have two weimeraner dog kids :) Gracie and Guinness…” Earlier in the interview she mentioned that she and her partner are partial owners of two restaurants. Check out the full interview here.

Erickson played for Duke during the 1997-1998 and 1998-1999 seasons after transferring from Purdue (along with fellow former Boilermaker Michele VanGorp [also openly gay]) following the 1995-1996 season (she sat out during the 1996-1997 season per NCAA rules). She helped lead the team to its first Final Four and championship game appearances in 1999 (to get there, Duke defeated three-time-defending Champion Tennessee) and was named to the Final Four All-Tournament Team. [Side note: Duke played Purdue, Erickson and VanGorp's former school, in the championship game.] She was also named to the all-regional (NCAA tournament) teams during 1998 and 1999. During the 1998-1999 season, Erickson was tabbed ACC player of the week on at least two occasions and was an All-ACC selection each of the two years that she played in a Duke jersey. At the time she graduated, she held the school record for number of three pointers in one game (7) and the number of three pointers in a season (62) [ten years later, she is tied for record for number of three point field goals in one game and is fourth in number of three point field goals made in a season]. During her Duke career she shot 88.0% from the free throw line, which is still the best in ACC history and her 32 consecutive FTs (in 1999) is still the longest FT streak in Duke history.

I've detailed some of the complexities between women's sports and the LGBTQ community in other posts (Elena Kagan comes to mind) and could probably write a lot more about it than what I'll say here. Despite all of the complexities between women's sports and the LGBTQ community, though, there are promising signs of a time when women's sports won't feel like it can't talk about LGBTQ individuals in sport. I'm proud that Duke is already moving in that direction.

The season starts Friday and Duke Women's Basketball has more to be proud of than the fact that the team's five first years make up the top-ranked freshman class in the country, Jasmine Thomas continues to rack up the honors (named a preseason first team All-American and to the watch lists for the Wade Trophy and Wooden Award) and national publications rank the Blue Devils as high as sixth (and as low as eighth) in the country (though, those are pretty awesome accomplishments, too).

[Author's note: In the interest of transparency, I spent my freshman year as a manager for the women’s basketball team and have since resumed my responsibilities after not holding the job last year. Also, thank you to Duke Sports Information for providing me with accurate up-to-date statistics on Erickson's career.]

To Be Or Not To Be...

Active. That is the question.

When I first came out, I had no clue what to do. Where should I go? Who should I talk to? What am I supposed to do now? So, looking towards other out people on campus, I followed their lead and became very active in the gay community. I began attending meetings, helping out with different activities, and generally hanging around the Center.

I did that for about a year or so and everything was great. I made new friends. For once, I was able to be as vocal as I wanted to about my sexuality and it was the best feeling in the world.

But then, something happened. Around the end of last semester, I started to feel different. I began to feel as though something wasn't right, as though I was changing. I didn't know what it was. But something just felt different. I began feeling out of place at certain events. My enthusiasm had died down. I didn't feel as "out and proud" as I once did. I began to go to the Center less and less. For the life of me, I just couldn't figure out what in the world was going on.

So, I decided to just pull myself out of the scene for a little while until I figured out what was up. I spent the rest of last semester, this summer, and the beginning of this semester trying to figure it out. I'm gay, so I kinda belong in the Center by default right? I'm supposed to be at every rally, every meeting, every event aren't I? I'm supposed to spend all of my free time in the Center. But I just couldn't pull myself to do that and I felt awful. I felt absolutely terrible. I was being a "bad gay" as I so often referred to myself. Seeing others be so happily active in the gay community made me feel horrible. But even this guilty feeling wasn't enough to cause me to become active again.

I pondered this for so long. Eventually, I was talking to some very close friends of mine that made me realize something: I don't have to be active if I really don't want to and I shouldn't feel bad about it. Now, I know this should have been common sense to me, but as my dearest mother said to me when I was younger, "Boy, you're all book sense and no common sense." A light bulb went off in my head. I got involved in the community because that's what I thought I had to do, not what I wanted to do, and eventually, my mind got the message my heart was trying to tell me all along: This amount of activism isn't for you.

Now, this still caused me a ton of stress. I still felt like a bad gay. But I had to realize that everyone isn't meant to be the great activists that others are and it doesn't make me a bad gay for not being such an activist. I have to find the level of activism that fits for me and it's not being in the forefront of the movement. And that's okay. I appreciate everyone that continues to push forward but that's not my place. And I'm fine with that. I've found a level of activism that isn't in the forefront but I'm still happy with it.

So, to those out there that don't want to be as active as some others, know that it's perfectly fine. Just don't begin to hate yourself like I started doing. We all have to find that balance that works for us and everyone's balance is different. Don't force yourself to be something that you aren't and everything will be okay. Take it from me, I've tried that and it made me miserable. The Center is a great place to meet people and hang out, but if you don't want to participate in the activist side of things, then don't. And don't let anyone make you feel guilty for not doing it. While many people would love for everyone to be active, they understand that everyone isn't comfortable or doesn't want to be in a high-profile level of activism. And isn't that what the gay rights movement is all about at its core? Allowing people to do what makes them happy in life?

I'm still active within the gay community but I no longer feel the pressure to be active in every single thing. I think that I might have found my "happy medium" now. We all have our place in this world. Find your own. Don't try to share a space with someone else.

October 12, 2010

Anonymous Posts (10.4.10-10.10.10)

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 :)

These are a day late, y'all. This is my fault, and due to fall break CRAZINESS. I've put up a bunch of flags this weekend which was tons of fun, but entailed me risking my life for some third floor Pegram residents. I'm keeping a counter in the right column and there's also a link where you can sign up to get one yourself. I've got, like, 70 flags in my room that need a home, People.

This Friday is Coming Out Day at Duke, which is always so much fun. I actually got involved with Duke's LGBTQA Community two years ago through COD handing out shirts (Happy anniversary, Chris Purcell!) and it was one of the best decisions I've made at Duke. We're going to need all the help we can get - can we have a ton of people on the Plaza at 9 to help set up?

I'm also DJing COD, which is kind of a dream come true (Megan Weinand thinks I'm doing her a favor). I promise I'll play a couple Britney tracks, Gays, but I'm keeping this set eclectic and old school #Wale #Destiny's Child. Also, several mash-ups made by my good friend and hometown hero Brendon Nolan are certain to get rotation (below!). Get hype, Duke.

Anonymous posts for the week, y'all.

Today I was in class, and I challenged a statement that implied everyone was heterosexual. I want to thank the (appearingly straight) woman in a sorority behind me who strongly agreed with me and then backed up my comment with more strength and facts. You're an awesome woman, and it was great to see a very Greek woman show that kind of support. I hope you speak up at your next chapter meeting, too.

Why is purple considered a "gay" colour? Eg. wear purple in remembrance of LGBTQ youth that have died. Just curious.

I hate that the anonymous post from a couple weeks ago were never put back up. I hate that a comity is being formed to review comments. I feel I can't even trust this blog anymore. It truly saddens me that the freedom of speech is disregarded. We fight so hard for our rights yet it seems no one care about the basic right of speech and the right to disagree.

My heart pours for LGBTQ folk. I've started to spend more time with yall than my straight friends and have realized an exponential increase in my happiness. Why are you all so awesome? I'm a PROUD ALLY and I will continue to be.

October 11, 2010

Number 28

[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.]

Last Friday afternoon I finally had my pride flag installed. I was feeling a bit apprehensive about it.

I signed up for a pride flag because I had always promised myself I’d come out in college and I was going to do so my Freshman year. I’d never been one of those people who flaunt their sexuality (because I don’t make it a habit to flaunt anything) but the flags around campus always put me at ease, and I like seeing them—why not add to the numbers?

Still, I was apprehensive.

I wasn’t ready for a flag. I had all sorts of scenarios about what would happen when I put my flag up. One scenario I imagined that didn't seem completely farfetched was that my relationships with others—the other girls on my hall, my friends, everyone—would change drastically when it was finally up.

I had originally planned to have my flag put up the day of or after Coming Out Day at Duke. It would be the ultimate culmination of my assimilation into the queer community. However, after putting it up I realized doing so on Friday was the best thing. When students come back from Fall Break it’ll just be there. They’ll probably disregard it; maybe think about it for a moment while unpacking from visiting friends and family. They’ll realize that they already like me for me and this extra factor isn’t all that monumental. To them, it’ll be something that can be actively disregarded but passively reminding them that I deserve respect too.

Regardless of how much I try to allay my anxiety with positive probabilities, I’m still apprehensive. I know it seems silly, but this is the first time I’ll be “out” to a group larger than 6. I have a few worries about my flag sending the wrong message and of my parents seeing it when they come around, but I’ve already grown fond of it and I’ve decided it’s not going anywhere. Flag number 28 will be displayed proudly from my window for the rest of my freshman year. With such a strong and supportive community (which this blog and the many posts that make it up serve as a reflection of) I can confidently say that regardless of what happens I won't remove my flag.

October 7, 2010

To Those Anonymous

[Ed. Note: Our first-years just consistently impress me, and Ryan is no exception. I love this post, and I'm really happy to have him on board.]

I check this blog nearly every day and have done so for almost an entire year. The blog played a major role in my college decision. I especially looked forward to Mondays for the anonymous posts. Recently, I’ve noticed a developing trend in these posts, and I feel that the time is right to say how I feel. Allow me to introduce myself.

Hey. I’m Ryan, and I’m your friend.

But I’m not just Ryan. I’m that really interesting guy you met during O-Week. We hit it off at the baseball game and have been friends ever since, but you’re too afraid to tell me you’re gay; you think it will ruin our friendship. I’m your professor, too. Maybe you’re brave enough to display your BDU pin on your backpack, but you always hide it from my sight in class. I’m your best friend since kindergarten. We’ve separated to different colleges, and you’re not ready to tell me that you’re gay for fear of further widening the distance between us.

I’m all of these people, and I am your friend.

I want to know you. I want to know the real you. I appreciate and value your ideas, our jokes, and your friendship already. I LIKE you already. Is that going to change because of one difference between us?

Don’t forget, we already have differences. You’re black, I’m white. I never let you pick the music in the car. The way you always forget commas in text messages irritates me to no end, but I still love you, and you love me. We are friends. We have differences, but we are friends.

I want you to be happy. I want you to know that I support you. I don’t care that you’re black. I don’t care that you like terrible music. I care that your grammar is atrocious, but I can look past that. I don’t care who you love as long as you’re happy.

I want to reflect now on the time I needed these people. I was terrified once, too. I was a sophomore in high school, and life in general seemed to be going terribly. I felt unhappy with my friendships, I kept failing my driver’s test (stupid cones), and I wasn’t doing my best in anything in particular. I was scared to be gay. Because of all of this, I was a generally unhappy person, even to the point of losing my appetite. My family knew about my homosexuality for a while. (Sidetrack to anyone reading this: If you have a supportive family like I do, make sure they know how much they are appreciated.). My friends did not. I thought they would hate me. I come from a conservative, white-dominated, small town in eastern Ohio, and many of my friends fit the mold of this stereotype. Long story short, I grew tired of hiding myself, so, during junior year, I gradually came out to friends. To my surprise, no one cared. Many were surprised, and many needed explanation, but I did not get a negative response from a single one of them.

Some of you asked where we freshmen found our courage. On this subject, I speak for myself. Coming to Duke was awesome. There were so many flags, so many LGBT-identifying individuals, and so much warmth. I have heard some members of the community say that Duke is not as welcoming as their hometowns, but, I assure you, Duke is awesome. Just like in my experience in coming out at home, coming out at Duke has been entirely normal. I feel that normal is the best possible adjective for this situation—being gay isn’t the most important thing about me. It’s a completely normal part of me. It’s just one of the many differences between my friends and me. I find my confidence in knowing that my friends love me already and that one more difference between us won’t make that big of a difference in the big picture.

The Center for LGBT Life and its community are wonderful, but they aren’t my life. They are a great backbone, but so is everyone else. Because of the bonds I’ve made with people I’ve met in Randolph and on East Campus in general, if I feel upset over something “gay,” I don’t feel the need to run to the Center to vent. I have my friends, both straight and gay, right here.

So, anonymous posters of Duke, this post goes out to you. Without a doubt, you have heard this all over campus and the media in the past few days, but you must understand: you are not alone. No matter your situation at home, Duke is a safe haven. If you feel that you need listening ears, know that you already have them. If you are still unsure, I promise you: I am your friend. Find me. I fly my pride flag for you to know that.

October 6, 2010

A Message From Janie Long, Director of the Center for LGBT Life:

If you have been the recipient of a bias or hate incident this semester, I ask that you e-mail me with details. This could be a flag torn down, a taunt, a remark made in class directed at you, a non-responsive person in charge, etc. I want to report these incidents to others so that they might be fully informed. I talk with many of you each week who have experienced some form of negativity by someone on campus whether it is another student or a staff member. One little incident may not seem like much but when they are put all together they can speak volumes. So, please e-mail me (janie.long@duke.edu) today. I want to hear from each of you who has had one of these experiences even if you have told me before!


[Ed. Note: Janie wouldn't ask for this unless it was important, Readers, so let's do it. Remember, incidents big and small count. If you want to make this as anonymous as possible (AAAP), you can use our anonymous posts link to respond and I'll relay your message to Janie (without posting it next Monday unless you explicitly tell me to).]

October 4, 2010

Anonymous Posts (9.27.10-10.3.10)

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 :)

Not much to say, y'all. I'm finishing up a post on pride flags and such (because I'm now in charge of them), so keep an eye out for that. Use the link in the sidebar on the right to have a flag installed. I'm, like, the best at it. We ordered something like a hundred this year, and they're all free, so all you have to do is sign up and get all of your friends to sign up. So simple.

Anonymous posts, yo.

I'm a UNC student, and I wanted to let you know that I loved the Duke float at NC Pride last weekend and really wish I had gone over to meet some of you... I can't make it to Fab Fridays because of a schedule conflict this semester but hopefully i'll be able to meet some of you next semester!

I don't want to graduate alone, and from the way things are looking, that's what's going to happen. I've had girlfriends, and I have another girlfriend this year, but I am still alone. And I'm alone because I'm gay, and I have no one to tell. Maybe it's kinda much to say, but I just fucking crave being able to touch and hold someone I'm actually attracted to, someone I can care about and actually be with the way I need to be with him. You'd think for all of the shit I do with my girl it would satisfy me, but it doesn't, and I feel like a dick for wanting so much more than everything's she's tried to give me. But there's nothing she can do and there's no way she'd ever know that. I'm just pissed off at myself and alone and mad that I basically dug my own grave here at Duke and chose to be like this rather than come out with it already. Four whole fucking years and look how far I've come. I envy all of you with the flags and this blog.. it's amazing stuff, and I'm sad to say I'll never be a part of it. But I do see you guys, and I know you're out there and all of the good stuff you're doing, and that sort of makes me feel better.

Have people seen this? It's amazing how the people interviewed could be from the present...interesting how people in the 70s were so similar today and poignant how many people still feel need to be closeted, or whatever (like me!). But hopefully this documentary will help give me the power to come to terms with things.

I finally mustered up enough courage to go to Fab Friday and then afterwards at dinner a friend approached me and asked "Hey [this guy] said he saw you at some gay party today." Caught completely off guard, and not ready to come out to one of my closest friends I merely mumbled a "It wasn't a party," and felt awkward all throughout dinner and the evening. I hope [this guy] reads this and realizes that not everyone who goes to events hosted by the Center is out and that he should really try to keep from outing others to their friends. I hate how I'm continuously being forced into situations like this. I'm not sure I'll go to another Center event until I'm out to my friend... it might be a while. =/