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.


  1. Ryan,
    First, a welcome to The Blog Team! And, of course, congrats on your first post! I am so pumped to be a co-blogger with you and to read all you have to say and to talk with you about all sorts of interesting things. Really, I'm excited to know you and to continue to get to know you. And, for the record, this post is just really beautiful.

  2. Ryan.
    If I haven't told you already, I love you, and thank you for this post. Thank. You. It's wonderful.

  3. Amazing post Ryan, I can't wait to read your next!

  4. Thanks for being a friend, Ryan.

    Also, love the pic. :)

  5. Ryan, thanks for writing for the blog and for reading it. =)

  6. so the implication is that black people have bad grammar?

  7. [Ed. note: I think this is a purposeful comment]: Who writes the editor's comments? This isn't an athletic team, or is it? It's not unadjacent to being presumptuous and a little creepy mentorish. Yay Blue Devils! Rah Rah Rah Team! Get on Board Guys The Gay Choo Choo Train Yay Yay Woo Woo.

  8. As a black queer woman of color, I am disturbed by this comment:

    "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."

  9. To 7:59 and 9:01,

    I didn't mean to say that any single one of my friends has each of those attributes. The point I tried to make there is that there are differences between many of my friends and me, not ONE of my friends and me. I apologize for any offense I may have inadvertently inflicted. I assure you that it definitely was not intended.

  10. Come one everyone. He did NOT mean it that way. Those were six different references that had nothing to do with one another.

    "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."

    This is a great post, Ryan. It really really is.

  11. 7:59 and 9:01,
    You missed the last sentence of that paragraph: "I don't care who you love as long as you're happy". If the author of this post offends you by saying he doesn't care if his friends are black, then he is also offending most of the people reading this blog (including himself) with what his last sentence in that paragraph infers. I respectfully believe that you misunderstood the theme of this post, which is celebration of differences.