December 6, 2010

Anonymous Posts
(11.28.10-12.5.10)


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 :)

Uh. So this blog is blowing up a little bit (that is a good thing, My Mom!). We're [back] on a regular schedule, and we have so many writers. The Most Writers. I think that the broad spectrum of columnists and volume of posts puts us closer to "effectively conveying the diversity within the LGBTQ Community, something that is often underrepresented and underestimated." And this is most certainly a good thing.

The problem we then run into, however, is having more content than our current readerbase can keep up with. Which doesn't mean that we should have less fewer (grammar police called me out on this) posts, it just means that we're ready for more readers :) So, like, you know how there's a Share! button at the bottom of every post? Use that! Use that. If just ten people shared links on their wall, that would reach, like, 9,000 Facebook users #exactsciences. Or if you're in a hurry (? ("If you have to zap like your blog posts before you head out the door, you might want to loosen up your schedule.")) there's also the Like button there, too. Share the good word, Readers! I can only spam so many people!

In other news, hey This Awesome Article. Thanks to Ryan Brown for doing such a great job with this piece, and to Maya Robinson for putting up with how awkward I am in front of a camera.

The anonymous posts for this week are just too much, You Girls. I know I've said this before, but I am so much so in love with This Blog a little bit.

#1
I write this anonymous entry in my room crying. Why am I crying? I am crying because we live in a world that is not accepting and a world that is very judgmental. For the past few years in my life, I have been trying to change who I am. I have been trying to pretend that everything is ok, when it simply is not. For example I went to church during thanksgiving break, and these girls made a general comment about how gays should not be allowed in the church or even identify themselves as Christians. I am a proud gay individual in secret. I wanted to honestly attack her but I could not since I did not want to reveal my sexuality to my cousin who happened to be sitting next to me. Why am I still in the closet? I am in the closet because I am scared of what my parents will say, I am scared because of what other family members will say and I am scared because of the perception the world would have on people like me. I am scared because I want to run for office on in my foreign country and I am scared because people would judge me based on my sexuality and not on my promise to serve them. Time to grow up, this is the funny part! Have you ever had a crush on somebody, who did not know you were gay or lesbian? Have you ever seen that person and wished to tell them how you were feeling? Have you nicely contacted someone asking them to spend time with you in a nice way, but the person you contacted keeps on rejecting you and making excuses every time? [Ed. Note: Sorry I had to take this next line out, #1. Had to be careful with the whole personal attack thing. If you want to talk about it, you can email me at bluedevilsunited@gmail.com] I am proud of who I am and I am proud of whom I have become during my freshman year at Duke. I want the world to know the real me. I want the world to know the boy who is extremely funny, insecure, weird, smart boy who doubts himself frequently, and is goal-driven and happens to be GAY. I want to live in a society where people do not judge me based on my sexuality and people rather appreciate the diversity that exists in society. I do not know when I will frankly come out, but the time will certainly come. I do not know when that time will be. But, all I know is I am who I am and I cannot change one bit of it. I am ME, I am unique, I am different and I will never change the fact that I happen to like GOOD-LOOKING boys, not just an boy, but extremely hot boys.Thank God, for extremely attractive people at Duke!

#2
Hello Blue Devils United!

Urban Dictionary Definitions:

Lurker: Someone that follows a forum but doesn't post
Creeper: Someone who views your profile multiple times without saying anything
Stalker: A person who is way too obsessed with someone to the point of being a creeper (see above)

I am one of the above. Well, maybe I'm all of the above. You can also call me:

Mom: The woman who loves you unconditionally from birth, the one who puts her kids before herself and the one who you can always count on above everyone else (definition also from Urban Dictionary).

To those of you whose parents have rejected you for being your whole self: I am very, very sorry. I think of you all the time, and my heart cries for you. I wish that I could give each of you a big hug and tell you that you're just perfect, just the way you are.

To those of you whose parents are fully accepting, loving, supportive, and always know what to say and do: I'm very, very happy for you. It's your birth right to have parents who know how to love you unconditionally (see the ideal definition of "Mom" above). You have been blessed with such parents, and this is a wonderful thing.

To those of you who have parents somewhere in the middle of the two poles listed above, I now speak to you:

1) From your birth, the most important thing in this world has always been your safety and your happiness.

2) It terrifies me to think that you will ever be unsafe.

3) It breaks my heart to think that you will ever be unhappy.

4) While I am very proud that you are out, strong, brave, and such an awesome individual, I'm terrified that being out means that you're now a target for discrimination, hate words, and hate crimes.

5) My fear probably comes across sometimes as very conditional acceptance. What you hear when I say, "Be careful about public displays of affection" might be very different than what I mean when I say it. What I'm saying to you is, "This world is full of dangerous bigots, and I don't want you to get beat up and left on the sidewalk."

6) I feel no differently about wanting to be involved in your life than I would feel if you were heterosexual. I want to know when you fall in love. I want to know when your heart is broken. I want to know if you're dating anyone special. I want to know what that person is like. Please don't exclude me from all of these special talks because you don't think I can handle it. I think you'd be surprised if you gave it a try.

7) In our conversations, if I frequently bring up topics regarding your life as a queer person and how your life is going in these aspects, I'm afraid you'll think that I feel this is the most important part of you, and it's not. If I talk to you too little about it, I'm afraid you'll think that I'm minimizing an important part of your life or that I'm avoiding discussions about important parts of your life. I don't instinctively know the right balance. (And also please note: I used the word "queer" just now and I've no idea if that's the right word or if it's offensive in the way I used it. My lurking/creeping/stalking is the only thing that makes me suspect that maybe it's okay?) Teach me the lingo some time - and tell me what's okay to say when, alright?

7) I need you to tell me what aspects of my parenting are working for you, and what aspects are not. I don't always know how to be helpful and supportive. Sometimes I try and fall flat on my face.

8) Sometimes I don't know what to do or say in certain situations. For example, when the late night shows are on and the comedy routine includes a stereotypical gay character, am I allowed to laugh? Am I supposed to be appalled? Sometimes I watch you, and I laugh only if you laugh. You usually laugh, so I usually laugh too. Are you laughing inside or just outside? Am I hurting you by laughing?

9) While I fully support the repeal of DADT on moral grounds, I secretly want it to stay, so that you will never be able to directly involved in a dangerous war. I know that's terrible. I'll vote for candidates supporting its repeal, but my heart tugs when I do.

Most of all, I love you. And I'm sorry if sometimes my loving you too much feels like lack of support or something I don't mean it to be. I just want you to live a happy and safe life. I'm not sure yet that this is completely possible for you, and I'm scared.

I worry so much about you.

Love,

Your Mom

#3
How can I post this not anonymously? I'm rather sick of being anonymous and am on my way out! Well, except to my mother. Ad father. And brother. and grandparents. And okay maybe nobody knows. But I'm trying! I swear! I called my brother this week to come out to him, but he didn't pick up, and responded days later via text. It feels like I haven't had a serious, close conversation with any of my family members in so long that to come out to them would be doubly awkward. It's sad, really. But over Thanksgiving, I decided to try.

So here was my most recent coming out attempt, well, more testing the waters:

I was in the movie theater with my mom over Thanksgiving, and we were looking at movie posters. I'd been looking at a picture of Natalie Portman, trying to figure out what wasn't quite right about it (photoshopping galore). I tried to point it out to my mom, but she said she hadn't spent much time looking at Natalie Portman in general, so she couldn't really tell. I responded, "Oh, I have". And she gave me this look and asked "Why?"

Now I wasn't about to have a coming out party right there, next to the restroom and garbage can in the hallway of the movie theater, surrounded by my boyfriend and the rest of my family. My boyfriend heard the whole thing, and knew exactly what I was talking about, but she just didn't get it. I'm not sure if the look on her face was confusion or disgust.

-Nicole Dautel. Trinity '11

#4
Here's the deal: attention seeking behavior seems to be inextricably intertwined with so many things LGBTQ.

1. Why?

2. Good/Bad?

3. What should be done? (or should anything be done?)

#5
I know that people can say pretty terrible things to someone who comes out to them, but I never imagined hearing “I don’t believe you.” But, for some reason, I seem to be hearing it over and over again as I try talk to my friends about my sexuality. It’s not always that explicit, though. From my sister, it was “You’re just saying this because you have so many gay friends now.” From another friend, it was “But you’re too pretty to be anything but straight” (their way of complimenting me?). And, perhaps the most hurtful and least expected of all, “Oh, you and everyone else. You’re just trying to be trendy.” I can’t say I didn’t expect it to some extent. Yes, I am a woman who never questioned her sexuality at all before college, and not really until the end of last year. And no, I don’t know what new label I fit into yet (bisexual... lesbian?) or if I fit into one at all. But does that make it alright to tell me that I am not genuinely attracted to other women? I’ve heard plenty of stories about how hard it is to be a queer woman, especially at Duke, but I could never have envisioned some of my friends (some of whom are gay themselves) telling me that I am trying to be something I’m not. Talk about invalidating.

#6
I saw the article about the LGBT center in Towerview today and while I thought it was well written and said some great stuff about what you guys are doing, I can't help but be annoyed with how frats seem to be covered. As a gay male in a fraternity, I am about as closeted as it comes, except I don't necessarily see that as wrong or as some terrible act of denying "who I am." I am a lot of things other than gay, and so the reason I don't come out and tell everyone I like guys is not because I'm weak or afraid of it. It's because I want to be seen for the other things that I am. Additionally, the world isn't all rainbows (ha) and sunshine, and for most people, coming out risks a lot of other important things that, for some, are just as important as (if not more important than) their sexuality. There are a lot of male actors who don't announce their sexuality because it ruins their chances of getting roles, in the business world a lot of gay men don't come out because they want to protect their jobs, and maybe a lot of guys in frats here don't come out because they want people to remember the other things they do and are a part of (such as their frat, for example). I just think it sucks that when people hear about closeted frat guys at Duke, it's assumed that they're insecure losers with "identity issues" who will never find their way in life because they don't want to run around telling everyone they like dudes. I like guys, but I like my life at Duke a lot more than to risk it in the name of "taking a stand" and "defying a stereotype." I don't do drugs, and I don't sleep with girls, and I think that's enough to defy the stereotypes people have about fraternities here. A lot of us are comfortable with who we are and are gonna live it up for the rest of our time here without it being ruined by something that doesn't feel as important in the short term.


*NTS: I should never write something that is going to be read by anyone other than nobody at 2:40 AM. This post has had to be edited so many times. This is what overtired looks like, People. (It looks like a lot of very long hyperlinks.)

29 comments:

  1. number 2 made me cry harder than i have in a long time. your child is lucky to have such a thoughtful mother, really.

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  2. Dear #2,
         As someone whose parents have not yet come around, I found myself tearing up as I read your post.  In part out of regret and frustration that my own parents seem a long ways away from being where you are and our relationship being anything but unstable, and also out of relief and gratitude that parents like you do exist.  Parents like you give me hope that one day I will be bringing my own kids up in a more accepting, loving society.

    Thank you.

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  3. #6 I get where you're coming from. I had the same fears. I guess what it comes down to is whether or not you're happy in the place you're at. I wasn't. I came out. Now it turns out my life didn't change much at all, except in a positive direction, and I have a great boyfriend I would have never been able to have otherwise. Sometimes you have to risk a lot to win a lot. For me, coming out was one of those occasions.

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  4. #2, I also teared up when reading this. I've been fortunate enough to have supportive and amazing parents, just as you seem to be, but I've never heard this aspect of their experience. Thank you for bringing it to light and for letting so many people struggling for parental acceptance know that some of their parents may be struggling, too.

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  5. #1 - I hate that you feel this way. That the world is just TOO un-accepting (this is a word right?), because I think/hope/pray/believe things are changing. I hope you find a support system, someone to talk to, because there are people out there who are not going to judge you, but will be completely okay with who you are.

    #2 - You are one example of the hope I talked about above. I sometimes joke, that I would love to have a gay son/daughter because I would feel like you do now.

    #3 - You're brave. I hope you get the chance to talk to your family in a very real way.

    #5 - It's hard in a way for someone else to come out to you. If that makes sense. If you aren't expecting it, or have no idea. It's one of those sensitive situations were you have to also be careful how you react and answer, but every person needs a different kind of support. The first time someone came out to me, my freshman year of high school, I had a less than stellar reaction. Not as violent as the ones you talked about, but one that came about due to ignorance on my part. I hope the next time you tell someone they have a better reaction. You are who you are, and people should accept that and believe you.

    I've talked about bravery a lot in my comments above - because I think it is extremely courageous to come out to family, friends, etc. I am proud of those of you, who even take the tiniest step in this direction because to be 'different' in our society, in any way, extreme, method can be hard. I hope we continue to see progress and acceptance in our world. I'm soapboxing, and being preachy I guess, but this is one issue in which I do care a lot about, and I have many people who I care about who identify as LGBTQ.

    -MS

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  6. #2 - This is so amazing. I never got the chance to ever hear anything like this from my Mother, and I think I'm going to save this post in my email so I can continually refer back to it. Janie and Peg (the 2 full-time people here at the LGBT Center at Duke) have essentially become surrogate mothers, but having these from yet another affirmative and supportive adult is just so great. Thank you. =)

    #1, #6, #3 - Coming out I definitely needed a community of support. If you're looking to come out (#3), I would definitely just keep tapping into resources here at Duke, and talk with friends who may have done the same already. If you're not looking to come out though (#1/3), the very nature that it's your decision means that I respect that. I don't think anyone can tell anyone how to come out. #1, I might consider talking with CAPS if being closeted on this campus is really affecting you. It affected me negatively and I went to them twice to talk things over-I'd really recommend it. =) And #3, I don't see closeted Greek individuals (or anyone for that matter), as problematic, as long as you're happy with your life the way it is now. If you're unhappy with it though, I might encourage you to check out some of the LGBTQ/coming out resources we have here, since that kind of support outside of Duke when you graduate may not be as well in place (free meetings with Janie, a huge LGBTQ peer support network (if you want it), discussion groups, etc.) after graduation.

    #4 - I have to admit, anything I do with the LGBT Center, I spam on Facebook or advertise by word of mouth-all the time! I just do it because I never know who's LGBTQ in the room, if they're looking for support/allies, or if in general they are aware of fellow LGBTQ individuals on this campus. I literally did not meet a queer woman at Duke until April of my first year! I just would hate to see that be someone else's experience. I think visibility has to be at least somewhat interconnected with the LGBTQ community and our events, because no one else (the media, President Board, general public) will really speak out for us.

    #5 - GAH. I'm sorry this has been your experience, I know (somewhat) of what it's like because this was mine. I came out to my sister first, and she didn't believe me for months and months. It was so invalidating and frustrating, but now she's one of my biggest allies (Hi Lauren!). There does exist a community of support that affirms you, whether it's BDU or a different friend network, and I know it helped me when I was coming out to spend a lot of time (and I still need to!) with fellow LGBTQ/allied students to affirm my identity and make me comfortable with myself. =) It's been really great, and has given me so much confidence in who I am. I would definitely not recommend ditching all of your friends of course, but I left organizations/groups that I felt weren't affirming after a few months of coming out. I just wanted to make sure I was in a healthy environment. Last but not least, this doesn't justify their reactions at ALL, but keep in mind how long it took you to come out to yourself-did it surprise you at all? (I know when I came out to myself I was sort of surprised, and it took me forever to realize it.) My sister needed to get used to the idea, after knowing me for so long with different identities. So maybe they just need a bit of a learning curve. But while you're waiting for them to catch up and get used to the idea, come hang out with us. :D

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  7. A comment on the sheer amount of information on the blog:

    I read this about once a week recently , and do have a hard time keeping up, but I don't think it's the amount of information on here, but the navigation system that makes it difficult. Is there a way to increase the 'recent post' list on the right hand side? Or better yet, have 'recent posts' link you to another page with an index of the titles of more posts, and when they were posted?

    I'm just thinking about magazines and newspapers. They have waaay more information than this added daily, but it's still manageable... so there must be a way.

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  8. I call for a motion to elect #2 honorary BDU Mother, all in favor say yea. ;D

    #5 That was/is always one of my biggest fears. It feels like being pooed on.

    Hey #6, I really really appreciate you speaking up about this. A really tough thing about being in the closet is that so few have heard your side of things. I've heard from out fraternity brothers, and I've read some experiences about closeted fraternity brothers who play the role of a straight male on campus, but I think your experience falls somewhere else on that spectrum. For me, one of the things I dedicate myself to is being out, and making it (hopefully) easier for other queer people to be out, if they choose to be. And to be honest, I get really frustrated when I see experiences like yours because it opens up this whole new world that I want to learn about, but can't.

    Since that article was about the growing visibility of LGBTQ students, I just want to thank you for your message because you've made another part of the campus a little more visible to me even if you're not out.

    But I'm gonna keep fighting for a world that lets the gay actor have straight roles, let gay politicians get elected to serve, and business people (or any people) who don't have to fear losing their jobs, or extra work to protect their jobs.

    We'll keep fighting the good fight in our own ways.

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  9. #6, I am an out gay man at Duke, and my sexuality, and i would argue that i am seen for a lot of other things before MY sexuality. I do a lot of other great things, and trust me, people see that.

    Even as an out gay, my sexuality is still not the first thing that (most) people see.

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  10. The only way that I knew my mom didn't write #2 was because it referenced urbandictionary.com; and while my mom is really cool (she listens to indie radio stations :D) she's not urbandictionary.com-cool.

    To whatever mother wrote this, thank you. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

    And to my mom, I love you <3

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  11. #6:
    To be honest, I think that being "as closeted as it comes" inherently means that a person has some pretty big insecurities with their identity. Someone who is fully secure with their identity would have no need to hide their sexuality because they're confident in who they are both internally and externally. At the same time. there are obviously many out individuals with great insecurities, but they are trying to confront some of these actively. Being closeted generally makes that personal confrontation nearly impossible, so there is even further reason to suspect that most closeted men in fraternities have insecurities.

    As far as fear of being seen for nothing other than sexuality, this is almost an explicit admission of insecurity. I think it's relatively evident that no one labels any LGBTQ individuals as "Gay #1", "Gay #2", "Gay #3"; all of these out people are identified in other ways by anyone who actually knows them. Sure, to strangers who just recognize their involvement in the LGBTQ community, they might be relatively simply identified as another gay student, but that works in the same way for recognizable fraternity men as well. If you were to come out, all of your friends would still have a complex picture of who you are in their heads, and they couldn't suddenly reduce you to "Gay", and others won't even reduce you to "Frat Gay" (as that's really not even that unique in the end). My point here is that this reflects an insecurity about being identified by something that is most likely among the most important aspects of your identity. As I said earlier, being in a fraternity could also theoretically be reductive in the way people perceive you, but how often do you use that as an excuse and not tell people you're in one?

    In the end, true self-confidence in your identity will allow you to be unapologetic about any of the aspects of who you are. While you don't necessarily have to advertise your sexuality, being closeted is admission of your concern for the way others perceive you and reflects the insecurities you have about your own identity.

    With that said, I know essentially no one that is fully secure in their identities. And I recognize that many individuals have more difficult external factors to deal with that add ot the complexity of coming to terms with an identity. There's nothing wrong with being insecure, but I hope people recognize when they are holding themselves back.

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  12. Hey, Nicole! That's actually a really good point - and as someone who has to read every post as they come in, this hadn't occurred to me. Even the recent posts widget on the sidebar was Risa's idea, not mine!

    So, I actually can't make the recent posts list go more than five (which is very frustrating). But I tweaked the "blog archive" widget in the sidebar to maybe be more helpful? I moved it up a bit, too. Whuddya think?

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  13. #6: Thank you for bringing this up. This is actually something I've noticed before and it's bothered me so much but I just didn't know how to articulate it.

    I know exactly what you mean by this. When I first met my fraternity brothers, I remained in the closet to them for a brief time because I didn't want to be seen as just a gay guy. And that's a really scary thing to face, especially because, like you, I don't really see being gay as a major identity for me (I actually don't like this whole "which identity do I identify with most" thing. I'm me. That's my identity.) Nevertheless, I came out to my fraternity brothers pre-rush which was even scarier for me because of potential blacklisting. Obviously, things worked in my favor. I understand your concern about just being labeled as the gay guy because I struggled with my fear of that, too. I wish I could give you a definite answer to how I got over that fear, but it just happened. I guess it was because my brothers didn't treat me any differently than they treat anybody else. They're all aware of my sexuality but I'm still a bro. And that's all that matters. A big part of it too is just reminding people that you are more than just gay. I'm gay, black, fraternity brother, singer, ex-athlete, writer, and other things. I believe that whatever you focus on in life is what others will see you as.

    Also, if you are honestly comfortable being in the closet, then that's great for you. I think that's defying enough stereotypes within itself. As long as you are truly happy with how your life is right now, that's all that will ever matter. I'm not going to give you the "Come on out! The water's fine!" speech because it's your decision. Do what you feel is important to you. Just know that if you ever do decide to come out, there will be people here ready to help you through it.

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  14. #2: It was really great to read you post. Many of the struggles you mentioned are topics my mother has eluded too, but we have never had extensive conversations about any of it. Immediately after reading your message, I sent my mother an email attaching your post and responding to many of the concerns you raised. I think that I've been so focused on my journey that I never really let my mother know I understand she has a journey too. She responded with a wonderful email that clearly appreciated my effort to comprehend her side of the story and I hope that this continues to open up the lines of communication between us.

    Like you sound, my parents are wonderful and loving, but I can feel some of their hesitation and it bothers me. I try and give them the time to adjust, but it is not always easy (I am very accustomed to their full support and affection). I really would like to thank you for giving me the strength to address some of these concerns openly with my mother. And, I'm sure your child appreciates you as much as I appreciate my mother.

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  15. #2: Thank you for that. When I came out to my parents, I remember one of the last things my dad saying being something along the lines of “I need to know how to keep you safe” and I’ll admit I didn’t really think much about it because I was so emotional at the time. At first I thought he meant safe from sexual predators or something like that. But then I realized he could’ve been talking about from jerks that’d possibly want to hurt me because of how I identify. It’s still not clear, but I like to entertain myself with the thought that he was looking out for me against hate speech/crimes.

    Your post was truly touching and I can only hope that my parents come around to your level of support and acceptance. They’re the “somewhere in the middle” parents. I’ve taken your post, and I’ve printed it out, and it’s going up somewhere in my room as a reminder that it’s a parent’s job to love their kids and that my parents will eventually realize that’s what they have to do.

    #3: Back when I was thinking of coming out to my parents I thought of it as a “they’ll know when I introduce my girlfriend to them” or “I’ll plan to tell them on my next birthday” or something to that effect. I kept thinking up scenarios and ways to tell. Essentially, planning the event.

    As much as I hate the way I was forced to come out to my parents, I realize it was bound to happen that way (due to my relationship with my parents); sporadically, without me being prepared. Now, I’m not saying you should wait until your mom asks “Honey, are you gay?” but I feel like it’s incredibly difficult to plan the time and place. (May I just say now that this is my opinion and this does not hold true for everyone).

    This is just a thought I’ve had—not specific to your situation, but relevant nonetheless. It depends a lot upon the relationship with your parents. I think it’s a good idea to always be prepared, not with a script, but with a few things you’re going to say about yourself. Which I wasn’t. And my main problem was I not being prepared for my parents’ disbelief of bisexuality. You never know how someone is going to react, but you can at least be assured that you’re painting a picture of yourself with your words and hoping they interpret it in a way that isn’t detrimental to your relationship with them.

    #5: I know the feeling. It’s frustrating, to say the least. Regardless of the fact that I know I’m the only one allowed to define my sexuality, there is often an incessant desire to have these non-believers validate it. Which doesn’t make any sense, but it happens. I just hope these people don’t influence your definition yourself, because the questioning process is often a slippery slope. I wish you luck and leave you with the reminder of the fact that you don’t HAVE to claim a label. I use bisexual for simplicity’s sake.

    #6: I understand where you’re coming from, and while I’m out about my sexuality, it is DEFINITELY not the only thing I am defined by. A friend recently told me that she liked the fact that I own my sexuality, but I don’t allow that to be THE defining factor and that it’s not the first thing she thinks of when she thinks of me. Now, this isn’t true for all of the gay community. There are people who can’t help but be thought of as “the gay boy” or “the lesbian”, but if you don’t like that, it doesn’t have to be that way. I’ve never had that problem.

    Anyways, I’m not trying to force you to come out or whatever. I understand how you’d be feeling a bit self-conscious (as we all do when we (first?) come out) and you DON’T have to go through that (now). You say, “A lot of us are comfortable with who we are and are gonna live it up for the rest of our time here without it being ruined by something that doesn't feel as important in the short term.” Don’t forget that your sexuality IS a part of who you are, whether or not you want it to be. Coming out doesn’t have to “ruin” you. That's your decision to make; whether or not to come out and whether or not you let it ruin your life.

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  16. #2: Thank you so much for taking the time to write this post. I'm am going to come out to my parents over Christmas break, and while I'm convinced that it's the right decision, and I'm fairly certain that they won't hate me forever because I'm gay, I'm still absolutely terrified. Having a reminder that there are parents out there who love their children unconditionally regardless of their sexual orientation makes the whole process seem less scary. I long for the day when I can reach the point with my mom that she feels comfortable talking to me about appropriate lingo and reactions to characters on TV. That image might be exactly what I need to get through going home, and for that you will always have my thanks.

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  17. #6: I'm sorry, but I don't follow your logic. The only setting I can see that mentality making sense is in family life. Even the most comfortable and secure person could have trouble coming out to their family; they only have one, after all. But this is a fraternity, a fraternity that YOU chose, no less. Denying who you are is an insult to yourself and to your fraternity brothers. I'm willing to bet that you're not giving them enough credit. Coming out does not mean you have to wear it on your shoulder. It just means being honest. I am not in a fraternity, but I can't imagine how you can be in the closet without directly lying to someone at some point. How do you deal with sexual questions that arise? Mixers? Date functions? Casual discussions about dating/sex? Do you pose as a straight guy who just doesn't sleep with girls, or who just happens to be single at the moment? If you were as secure with your sexuality as you say you are, you would not do this. I am not criticizing your decision. Only you can make it. But I disagree with your characterization of coming out as "taking a stand" or "defying a stereotype." By definition, coming out is just being honest and truthful. I think you owe that much to yourself and your fraternity. If they reject you, it wasn't the right place for you anyway.

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  18. To "ebony way," thanks for what you said to #6. I guess my question now would be how exactly you manage to be out but not be defined by it. You say it's never been a problem for you to be both gay but also regarded for other stuff you are/do, so my question is how? I feel like being gay but not defined by it takes a lot of practice at being "out" so even if I came out I wouldn't automatically be able to just be good at it and be like you and say "Oh well yeah people still look at me for other stuff but I still 'own' being gay." I just feel like that doesn't make sense. How can I "own" something that I'm not trying to own in the first place? Seriously if I could go from closeted to "out but still looked at for my other traits" like you, I totally would but I don't think it's that easy and I doubt my roommates would be feeling it.

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  19. #1 - I'm in your very shoes. I wish I could find you and we could talk about how annoying life can be sometimes, but in the end I'm sure everything will resolve itself. Even though I'm not out at Duke by any means, slowly I feel like I'm finding some sort of comfort knowing that slowly and surely things will get better. Just this weekend I heard some homophobic comments as I walked by some students, and it made me want to go up to them and confront them soo bad, but I didn't. Know that you're not alone. :)

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  20. ^I totally agree with the above comment.

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  21. #2: You just made my heart smile; Mamas are so special and so integral to our lives, and sometimes we, as daughters and sons, forget that everything y'all do you do because you want what is best for us. Growing up is an inordinately difficult process that requires a lot of your listening and understanding, but, oftentimes, we forget that sometimes we need to listen and try to understand, too.

    #6: You're about to get your own, damn post on this blog, so read it :)

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  22. #1: If your goal is to find that someone special, it might not be a bad idea to start off as friends, and be easy-going with the friendship for starters to see how things work out. Revealing your deepest (darkest? ;) ) self to a crush you barely know is one sure way to freak the other guy out. Look beyond the surface, most guys you find hot now are not going to be so a few years down the road. Looks are one thing, but character is what seals the deal for me in a relationship. Over time, you will develop a sense for which of these friends you can confide your sexuality in and to sort through whether they need to know you “liked” them in a not-so-ordinary way. If he were worthy of your best-friendship, he would “know” somehow ...(just because these friends bother enough to feel & notice). Even if he can’t be your loverboy, he could qualify as one of your best friends (whom you might be able to steal a hug from). Given enough time and luck though, you may just find your partner to do a remix of Jason Mraz’s “Lucky”. Take it ez.

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  23. More from #2 (aka "Your Mom") - Wow! I wrote the entry on the blog feeling relieved that I could finally vent about the many ways I really have no idea what I'm doing, and you all make me feel like maybe I'm doing just fine. Thanks to all of you for your kind words and your kind hearts. You're really a very special and awesome group of people.

    Regarding telling your parents (if you haven't already told them) - think about telling them the story about the person you have always been from the beginning instead of telling them about someone you have suddenly become. Instead of starting the conversation, "Mom and Dad, I'm gay" and then working backwards, maybe start with the first things you knew from the time you were little, and work forwards. "Mom and Dad, remember the girl (or guy) in junior high I dated - the really good looking, really nice one that you both liked so much? Remember how nobody understood why I just wasn't that interested?" Or... even earlier - "Remember how I was so crazy about that (same sex as me) teacher in the second grade? Well, Mom and Dad, I think it was actually a crush." Or... "You know how I always loved that show - Six Feet Under?" Or... maybe in some cases... "Remember how I always liked to dress up in your stuff when I was little?"

    I think one of the things that really helped us as a family was that the discussion just sort of developed about what always was. It was never a discussion about what suddenly became. I hope that makes sense.

    I'll be thinking of all of you through your finals, and I wish you very happy, peaceful, and accepting holidays. Love and warm wishes to all!

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  24. #2: This was beautiful.
    #5 (and I'm going to touch on #6): I really sympathize with what you wrote, in some ways it struck me as strangely similar to what my experience has been in coming to "identify" (to the extent that I think of my sexuality as a part of my identity, which is not that much), as "bi" (to the extent that is the word I want to use, which is I think not really), or rather, just wanting it to not be a secret to people that I am attracted to other women.

    And it is strange, because just wanting it that part of my sexual portfolio to not be a secret in the sense that the fact I like men is not a 'secret' gets shut down by people sometimes I think, even within the queer community.

    A lot of times I feel like anonymous posters say problems, and the commenters give helpful advice, and I don't really have any helpful advice. I just wanted to say I feel like I sort of "get it"--everything about society seems set up to keep anything outside of the conventional sexual/romantic narrative hidden away. I wish it were different. I'm glad you wrote this.

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  25. I have a lot on my mind about all of these, but identification seems to be a theme not only this Monday, but for Mondays Past. I find myself a little less radical than the comments re: #6, in that I believe people should not come out unless they feel like they have to. There should be no onus on them to come out, because honestly, if they're not ready or just don't want to, then that's fine. Seriously. Whatever makes you happy, Closeted People! I like that Everyone seems to be taking into account the risks and consequences in/of coming out, but they seem to be intellectualizing them too much. Like, "Those who matter don't mind and those who mind don't matter" is great and all, but I don't think that's really how emotions work. It is often, actually, the people who don't matter that devastate us the most! Like, why bother? Yes, it might be the Best Thing for the long term, but to be honest, it would just be so much easier to wait the year out if I'm a senior. Right? It doesn't really sound like #6 is stressed (and it is sort of condescending to be like, "you are stressed, you just don't know it!") and no doubt this would probably cause a lot of fucking stress. I mean, let's look at risk/reward here. I feel like people coming out before they feel they should/are ready almost always ends up a lot worse than if they'd waited (or most likely, been able to wait in the case of forced outings).

    Now, as I mentioned this on Cameron's post, there is a flip side to this - and Edie alludes to this in her post, that if Everyone were to come out, it would just destroy insecurities and stigma. It would! It would. And we have a word for that situation: Utopian. It is frustrating, I think, for out members in the Community to see #6 because it's like, UGH. Do you know what your coming out would do for The Cause (which is Your Cause, for the record)?! I think the most "Yes!" piece I've read on this subject (although most of this is directed at people who are out and choose to not identify in many circles) was this post Aliza wrote forrrreeevvverrrr ago about labels:

    "Identity Crisis: does the Movement require that we check a box?"

    However, while this would all be great, people need to prioritize themselves first. Their immediate responsibility is not to others. Because safety, depression, stress, etc.

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  26. "Those who matter don't mind and those who mind don't matter" is not over-intellectualizing.

    Over-intellectualizing is rejecting the social construction of The Gay in American society and realizing our emotions and sexual behavior are governed by hormones, genetics and evolution, and that there is no need thinking about how we identify because we will behave and feel however we behave and feel.

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  27. #1: I wish I could find you and just reassure you that everything was going to pan out, but even if I did find you, I would never think of saying such a thing. Who am I to say?

    In any case, I'm going to echo something that someone said above, which is that you need to be less aggressive with people, even if you want to hang out. I have a feeling that you're foreign, so it might have a lot to do with your culture. You should just make sure that you take in to account someone else's comfort before continuing to contact them. He may have just forgotten the first time and then got uncomfortable when you kept approaching him. You don't need to expect a relationship right when you get in to Duke. It might take years (which sounds scary, but you will probably cope). It's your first year, enjoy the new experience and take it one step at a time. If you keep jumping in to it all head first, you may end up crying much more than you planned.

    If you prove to be a good enough and decorated enough public servant,I can only hope that you will be alright. however, I don't know which country you're from, so I don't know how far along they are.

    Also the last little bit concerns me, you may happen to like extremely hot boys/people and who doesn't on some level? But, tread softly and make sure that they are comfortable the entire way and that you're both on the same page.

    Best of Luck!

    #2:
    What else can I say but that I love this and I love how vulnerable you were willing to be. In reference to the DADT thing, I know it hurts you and for people who take that path, it hurts their family a little bit no matter what. I'm glad that that doesn't hold back your vote and that you are "on the ballot" in favor of repeal, but when/if you get the chance to experience someone talking to their family about wanting to serve in the army and you see how they speak with such conviction you'll understand that, while it's something that's fine to be scared about, you will be so proud of them.

    You're awesome and I second Summer's post about voting you BDU mom.

    #3: Nicole, totally already talked to you and I already shot you a FB Message. Again and ALWAYS, I am SO proud of you!

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  28. #4:
    People's expressions are sometimes their expressions. That's really all I can say. I wouldn't ever judge people or correlate their behavior with attention seekers because they're a little flamboyant. It's simply how they express themselves. Personally, the people I am the MOST proud of in any LGBT Community overall is the ones who are more visible. They are the front line soldiers of all of this crap that the LGBT community goes through and out of all of my friend who have been terrorized and attacked, it's been more "different" ones overall. Most likely based on the fact that they were asking for it by strutting around in their Osterich Skin Boots or their Raiders jersey.

    The old AP Psych saying is that "Correlation does not prove Causation"

    #5:
    I can't imagine something worse than being told that I'm too pretty for my sexuality or that it's a trend. I can't exactly relate since my closest thing is people telling me that they're just waiting for me to come out or something (which I joke about, but I always make jokes when I'm uncomfortable). All I can say is that you are completely validated (as shown by posts above) and that you just need to ignore their claims on your sexuality. No one can tell you what you are but yourself.
    i
    #6: I know you don't consider sexuality huge for you, and that's perfectly fine. However, I would just hope that you are comfortable coming to the Center when you do find yourself in a conundrum that needs their expertise. You don't have to be completely out, but you should be able to get access to information you want without feeling fear. I'm sure Janie would meet with you if you shot her an email [whenever you may need it, I'm not saying you need it now or anything]. As long as you know your options, I could really care less about whether or not you're closeted. For people the people who lead you to believe that sexuality was what people saw first and foremost, I would recheck and revalidate your sources. You will find that you're surprised sometimes by reality.

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  29. Anon 5:12: I will first say that being out and not being defined by my sexuality didn't take practice at all. I really did JUST come out a few months ago. lol I really have no idea how I do it. I suppose it just stems from the fact that people know me for other things and I don't go around yelling that I happen to like both men and women. If someone says something homophobic, I usually comment on it, and if I feel like it, I make a comment about how I take offense to it. Then again, there are instances I'm not out to whole groups of people. Coming out is a continuous process and while I say I'm out, it's not entirely. BUT, I do go to the center, and I did have a flag for a little while, and I'll say if I think a girl is cute, but it's not overbearing and it's not the only picture of me other people see. They see an athlete, or a musician, or someone who will educate you on the subtle racism of everyday life. They SEE all of me because they GET all of me. I don't just feed one aspect of myself onto people. I don't make my sexuality a big deal, just like I don't make my hobbies or clothing size or weight a big deal. ...Maybe it's not even me doing something right to be seen as an entire person. Maybe it's them who are doing something right. (Or maybe they're doing something wrong by religiously believing in stereotypes because I don't think I "stereotypically" look (or act?) like a queer woman.)

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