July 31, 2010

A House Is Not A Home

For anyone that's Facebook friends with me (and I welcome anyone to add me or message me if you just want to talk), you know that I was recently trying to find a plane ticket back home to good ol' Columbus, GA. My mom has been begging me to come back home for some time now and I can't finding reasons why I can't. However, this time, I had no excuses. So I start searching for plane tickets home only to find out that the cheapest one I could find was about $250. This made me happy to no end. I was not going to pay that much money to go home for only a week and I know my mom wouldn't want me to do it either. I think that was the happiest moment I've had in a long time. Here's why.

I hate going back to Columbus, GA. Nothing good came from me living in that city. From the time I entered high school, I always dreamed of leaving that den of misery and going somewhere else where I could just be free and happy to live my life the way I pleased. There's not much to do in Columbus. You can only go to the movies, bowling, or the skating rink so many times before it grows old. Most clubs downtown were 21 and up. Mom wouldn't let me go to one anyway. There was no potential for me to go anywhere with my life. If I didn't get out of there, I knew that I would be trapped in the vicious cycle that has trapped so many other members of my family. I would spend hours on the back porch just sitting, daydreaming, waiting for the day that I would be free. I knew why the caged bird sang. I knew because I sang the same tune.

My family did not help the situation. Being a bastard in the literal meaning of the word, I only knew my mom's side of the family. My Y-chromosome donor's family had it's own problems and I was just another one that ended up swept under the rug. If that wasn't enough family division for one family, my mom's family was also split in two by my grandmother's divorce to my biological grandfather after having a few kids and then marrying my step-grandfather and having more children. The two factions, differentiated by last name, grew to bicker with each other about which kids were true "insert last name" and which ones were just outsiders and who the real siblings were and who the step- or half-siblings were. Both sides began to hate each other and banded together against the other. My mother, being the middle child, tried to find the middle ground the best she could but she only suffered worse for not picking a side. Thanksgiving quickly became my least favorite holiday. The tension at dinner was easier to cut than the turkey my mom cooked. Eventually, I grew used to it and could basically time when drama when break out and who would get drunk and dig up old bones that were thinly covered in an inch of dirt. I kept my little cousins occupied to distract them from the feuding going on down the hallway. My older cousins were old enough to go do their own thing so I was left to watch the youngins. Oddly enough, I was everyone's favorite. Both factions loved me and would give me almost anything I wanted (probably only because I put up with them trash-talking the opposite faction). Somehow, I became the center of everything with everyone pulling me towards their side.

To make matters worse, the entire family is very strict about their religious beliefs. My step-grandfather was a minister until he passed away. I have two uncles that are ministers. My mom taught me to read using the Bible. Everyone in my family was baptized, attended church every Sunday, and was active in the church in some way. I was in the young adult choir. It wasn't long into my middle school years when I realized that something was different about me. I never flirted with the girls. I just became good friends with them. I never tried to kiss them. But there was always some guy that would catch my attention. One of the boys that I just had this longing desire to be around. It wasn't long before I fully knew and realized what that meant. This revelation shook the foundations of my life. Several times, I heard my family say how "those gays" deserve to go to hell and burn for their perverted lifestyles. "It's sickening. They're not natural. They're freaks. God's going to punish them." They're me is what I thought to myself. The star of the family, the one that everyone loved was also the thing they most hated.

School was my only escape. I didn't come out until high school. I had to. I was going insane not being able to tell anyone about who I really was. At school, I could be myself around my friends and not care. I could join the girls in talking about how hot the new guy was or about who really deserved the most attractive guy senior superlative. I was happy for a time. Until I had to go home and face reality. Face the truth, that I did not live in a world where I would be so openly accepted as I was at school (for the most part. There were some exceptions of course). Senior year came and I felt my friends and I growing apart already. We were all going separate ways. I knew I was leaving with no attention of coming back anytime soon. Ready to leave this life behind me and move on to a happier time in my life.

And so, that is why I was ecstatic when I received a call from my mom this morning saying that she didn't want me to pay for a ticket home. I've found my happiness here at Duke. I can finally be free to just live MY life, free of restraints from the family, free of the family drama, free to live and be happy. All of this struck me this morning as I was walking into work and noticed how beautiful the morning was. I wanted to sit down on the ground and just stay there and never move. I used to feel horrible about not going home because I know it's killing my mom. I love her so much and I know she loves me, too, but I just can't put myself through that misery again. I've had my darkest moments back home. I've had my most disturbing thoughts back home.

That's when I realized, that a house is not a home. Just because I spent all of my life in Columbus, GA before coming to Duke, doesn't mean that it's home for me. It's not. It's where I'm from. It's where my family is. It's where I grew up. But it is not my home. Home is where the heart is (yeah, cliche I know, but so fitting here) and my heart is here at Duke. The Duke community here makes me feel so comfortable, so loved, so free. I know I won't be in this amazing Duke bubble forever and don't expect to find anything like this again, but for now, I'm going to enjoy it as much as I can. I guess that I've just learned to not let myself get caught up in the notion that I should want to go home. I've grown pass that. In my mind, I'm already home.

(PS: Sorry this is so long. I started writing and couldn't stop. I hope it wasn't too big of a waste of time for you :P)

July 28, 2010

Womyn Wednesday!

[WOMYN magazine is excited to announce that we will be featuring polls from our community in the magazine! We want to hear what you have to say about LGBTQ issues, queer women and Duke! The general goal of WOMYN magazine is to increase the visibility of queer women on this campus.]

Thank you to everyone who participated in last week's poll. The responses were great, and if you haven't voted yet you still can.

We would also like to announce that we are now accepting submissions from alumni in the magazine! After talking with some past queer female alumni from Duke, we think that including alumni voices would bring a really great perspective to the magazine, and it would also serve as a great resource for current Duke students. We're really excited about connecting with our greater LGBTQ Duke community, so be sure to let your graduated friends know they can submit!

(Thanks to Tina Siadak, Summer Puente and Chantel Liggett for collectively coming up with the ideas in this poll. Go team!)

This week's WOMYN poll is:
"Which of these images comes to mind when you hear the term 'queer woman'?"

Click here to vote in this week's WOMYN poll.

Note: the responses are images for this week-you may select more than one option. Also, please note that by including a photo here, we are in no way making a statement about the photographed individual's sexuality.

Image 1, 2 (right) and 3 (bottom)


This week we want to hear your ideas on the stereotypes of queer women and how LGBTQ-identified women are perceived. This poll is meant to spark discussion. Can anybody ever "look queer"? Can the girl making out with a boy identify as queer? Could a softball player be queer? Is the woman with short hair wearing the sweater vest queer? Maybe the woman wearing a sari is queer? Or could it be the girl in the Hollister ad with a man? What does being queer mean?

Image 4, 5 (right) and 6 (bottom)


Why is it that we might associate one image with queer, but not another? Is this a misunderstanding of what it means to be LGBTQ? Let us know what you think by voting, and feel free to respond in the comments section as well if you are comfortable being quoted in the magazine. (Please provide your name and Duke affiliation as well, ex. "Jane Doe, Trinity '11).

Image 7, 8 (right) and 9 (bottom)


****
Want to see the results of this week's poll? Pick up a copy of the WOMYN magazine in late Fall when it hits the newsstands!

Have an idea for next week's poll? Let us know, or email us to guest write it!

Want to submit to WOMYN magazine? Click here to look at some ideas of what to submit. (The submission deadline is September 15th.) Check out our website for more information on how to submit, and feel free to email us with any questions you might have: womynatduke@gmail.com.

July 26, 2010

Anonymous Posts
(7.19.10-7.25.10)

Every week, we collect anonymous entries sent in using the link on our sidebar and post them all on Monday. We post anything as long as it doesn't contain personal attacks or hate speech. Feel free to submit your thoughts and questions :)

So one of the coolest things that we did last year was the rainbow flag campaign. Especially for visiting high school students, this conveys that there is a community on campus. Alumni commented to Janie how warming it was to see the progress we've made.

And nothing's more testament to that than this old Chronicle article from September 2005 I found. Some snippets:
A flag hanging outside a window on Duke's East Campus prompted heated discussion Monday night after some students in Giles Dormitory expressed concern over the banner and requested its removal.
...

"I recognize the room is kind of central [over the Giles entrance], so what goes on... outside the window might be construed as representing the dorm," Thian said. "I am against homosexuality, however this is a free country and they have the right to say what they want to say."
For the record, the flag stayed. But anyhow. Worth a read (as are these old op-eds: My right to not support gay and lesbian groups (2002), Gay? Not fine by me (2003)).

We've actually got a handful of anonymous posts today, which is freaking awesome. The summer! This is over the summer. That we are getting so many posts. So cool.

P.S. Regarding #4 this week... I wasn't expecting this haha. Public compliments make me uncomfortable and this is super embarrassing, buuut I guess if it was anybody else (like ALIZA or SUMMER or JUSTIN or OLI or ARI or #4 THEMSELF who are all infinitely more so The Best) I'd put it up.

#1
I don't know if I'm a lesbian. I'm just so confused. And I don't want to go to hell.

#2

I'm a UNC student who would love to meet more of the LGBT community at Duke. Is "Fab Friday" the best way to go about this or is there a better way?

#3
I couldn't think of a better way to communicate with ya'all, so this is a rather silly use of an anonymous post, but I think that this is amazing (link).

#4

I've known Chris Perry since he moved to Patchogue. We lost contact...had the same classes in HS (of course speaking AP courses). It does not surprise me that he would be living in Washington D.C. (assuming so?) and raising such awareness and stories for an amazing cause. It's inspiring to see his intelligence used as a...power...or yet a force. Highschool I went down the road of immaturity and made choices that could've put me in jail (while still keeping straight A's). But in the seat next to me he'd come to AP english and would just focus on knowledge and always trying to participate in whatever he could to make a stamp in something. Not even for himself....but to form something to create a greater good. I always craved to learn but wish I would've followed his example as many of his colleagues did during that time. To see him and this blog makes me know that these are the roads that must be focused on. Always collecting knowledge and using it for a greater good. I hope you are happy Chris. Best of wishes.

#5
Why me? Why am I subjugated to this life? More importantly, why am I forced to feel this way? I just want to be straight. To be able to have a girlfriend, with whom I hold hands and kiss in public without glaring eyes. I want to bring a girl to meet my parents. I don't want to have my father who looks upon homosexuality with repugnance. I can't stand lying to myself any longer. But I do not see how I will be able to stand my parents, knowing they will never look at me the same. Who knows if they would even fund my education. I just want a normal life. Get married and have children. While these possibilities are now beginning to become open to gays, it is still not the same. I am frightened by how the human brain can be formed to think such disdain toward homosexuality. How can an idea be so powerful? I seem to have everything going for me: I'm young and healthy, about to begin studying at one of the world's most prestigious universities, I'm attractive and likable. But to me, it is nothing more than façade. The thing I hate is also the thing I identify most to. My homosexuality has shaped who I am. I can't stand to hide from it any longer. Only three other people know, two of whom I hooked up with. I want to be open about who I am, I don't want to only hoop up with guys in clandestine locations hidden from society by the darkness of night. But in the end, I just want to be straight, and then I can live my happy life. Fuck you society. I'm sorry, I just have no other way to say it. Why must I live like this, why must I think like this? Realistically, I just want to be happy at Duke. I want to be who I am. But I will not succumb to the flawed beliefs of this society. I will be happy...but why must I fight for it. I'm not so naive to think that being straight would automatically yield happiness, but it seems it is so much more feasible. I want to get with guys; which, sure its superficial, but what 19 year old doesn't want sex? And then I ask, why do I feel that I am the only one who understands and accepts my sexual orientation?. Sure I loath it at times, but I know who I am. The last guy I hooked up with, for example, says he is actually straight and doesn't want to do this any more, which I'm fine with, but I feel it is bullshit. If you hook up with a guy, enjoy it and get an erection from it, how can you say you're not attracted to men? I was the first guy he hooked up with, so maybe he has been lying to himself for so long? I first hooked up with a guy my summer before 9th grade, so I guess I have had more time to experiment? But even then I understood I like guys. Throughout high school I had this "hook up buddy". However, it was an on and off thing. I understood if he didn't want to hook up with me, but so many times he would say he isn't in to this kind of stuff any more. This is what the last 5ish years have been like. Have I just found "bad" guys? Okay, my post has been kind of all over the place, but the idea I think I have been developing and venting is that this society is so fucked up (sorry for the language again). I know this idea isn't new, and that all of you can understand it, but seriously, why? Why are we, intelligent and supposedly rational beings, able, or perhaps forced, to believe these ideas. I really don't know where I'm going with this, I suppose as means of venting since I have no one to discuss this with when it concerns me personally. Quiero aprovechar el dia, pero ¿como puedo? Estoy ocultando del mundo con un velo de mentiras. Me pregunto, ¿quien eres? Y ya lo sé. Sin embargo, no puedo sentirlo. Ojala que un dia pueda ser contento con mi sexualidad y, sobre todo, mi vida. Sorry, I like to think/write in Spanish sometimes, haha even though I'm not a native speaker. So its near 3 am and I've run out of steam. I understand that I am gay, I just hope I can make the best of it for the next four years at Duke, and for the duration of my life.

#6
I can't stand that by coming out I broke my parents' hearts

July 21, 2010

Womyn Wednesday!


[WOMYN magazine is excited to announce that we will be featuring polls from our community in the magazine! We want to hear what you have to say about LGBT issues, queer women and Duke! The general goal of WOMYN magazine is to increase the visiblity of queer women on this campus. A special thank-you to Chris Perry, the editor of the BDU blog!]

Thank you to everyone who participated in last week's poll. The responses were really great, and if you haven't voted yet you still can. We would also like to announce that the deadine for submissions to WOMYN magazine is September 15th. Click here to look at some ideas of what to submit. (Remember that submissions are rolling, so the sooner you submit, the better!)

This week's WOMYN poll is: "Does Duke seem like a safe place for someone to come out of the closet? Have you come out of the closet at Duke? Why or why not?"

Click here to take this week's WOMYN poll. Or answer in the comments section below!

The now nationwide slogan, "Gay? Fine by Me." originated at Duke back in 2003. Do we, as Duke students, still feel this way today? The goal of WOMYN is to increase the visibility of queer women on this campus, and it is intrisically linked to this question. The presence of out, visible LGBTQ students on Duke's campus changes everything. This week's question is complex, because even after telling that first friend on the quad or finally outing yourself in the middle of a class, the process is continual and much larger than a single yes or no. Therefore, this week we decided to leave an open blank in the poll so that you can tell us your comments, ideas and personal experiences of coming out at Duke in addition to your vote. Surveymonkey.com is completely anonymous, but if you would like to include your name (and a brief note of your affiliation to Duke) in your response to have your quote appear in the magazine, we would definitely love that as well.

Want to view the results? Check out the UPB newstands when WOMYN is realesed on campus in late October!

Upper Image: National Coming Out Day logo created and donated by Keith Haring to the Human Rights Campaign.
Middle: Matt Lyons, Trinity '10 (pimc2cm@gmail.com)
Contact WOMYN by email (womynatduke@gmail.com) or by visiting our
website.

July 19, 2010

Anonymous Posts
(7.12.10-7.18.10)

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 :)

FDOC (appropriately a four-letter word that begins with F) is around the corner, y'all. This is, uh, extremely scary as a rising senior, and I have no idea where the time went. It seems like yesterday that I remember thinking this Aliza girl in Giles with the anti-Bush dry-erase board doodles was The Coolest Person. And to think now we procrastinate for hours on end together, scheming and talking about how big of a mistake our majors are.

#diarytalk

Also! My best bud Aaron sent this to me. This American Life is his favorite because duh, and this episode is all about the APA and the DSM description of homosexuality. Summer is all about having the time to listen to things like this!

#1
I wish I could tell her.

#2
I am a closeted lesbian woman at Duke. Now that wasn’t so hard, was it? It’s taken me months, years even, to be able to say that to myself. Coming out to myself was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do—well, until recently. Now that I’ve begun to accept myself for who I am, I’ve realized how much further I still have to go. Being in the closet is so much harder than I thought (‘duh’ right?). I should start by saying that I don’t “look” gay—see Risa’s recent post for an excellent explanation as to why that is an absurd idea :). But my point is that no one would meet me and have any reason to think I was anything but straight. That sucks. After working so hard to accept myself, it hurts so much to have to endure the comments people make unwittingly. Of course hateful words and derogatory remarks towards lesbians hurt, but worse, occasionally, is the assumption of heterosexuality. No, I do not want to talk about my dream wedding to my dream man (playing along with that game is especially difficult). No, I do not care to comment on whether I want a summer wedding or a winter wedding—I don’t have the same rights that you do. Of course Leonardo DiCaprio is a fox in Inception, but did you see Ellen Page?? Beautiful. I feel like every conversation I have, I have twice. Once out-loud, playing along with the hetero-assumptions my oblivious companion is making. And a second time in my head, where I get to come up with all kinds of witty retorts to assert my identity. Unfortunately, I’ve faced this particular challenge many times at my workplace this summer. Once, my [female] manager made an off-hand remark that, taken out of context, sounded like she was hitting on me. She immediately started laughing and falling all over herself explaining that she wasn’t hitting on me, and that she in fact ‘liked boys.’ I just wish I had the balls to say what I was thinking in my head, “don’t worry, you’re not my type anyways.” Another time, several of my coworkers were discussing previous bosses that they had who had a tendency to over share personal information. One of them, another one of my managers, brought up a lesbian couple who ran the restaurant she was working at. They had apparently offered to explain how two women were intimate with each other (no doubt a conversation that was brought up by inquiring minds). My manager told us the story with a disgusted tone of voice and a horrified look on her face—clearly expressing her discomfort with lesbian sexuality. I just sat there in silence, feeling my face getting hotter by the minute and probably turning bright red. I hate that I have to sit in silence when I am feeling so deeply offended. I hate that people don’t and can’t understand how hard I’ve worked to accept myself. Living in the closet has laid this almost unbearable weight on my shoulders that I worry will never go away. The prospect of coming out to my friends or family is just as terrifying. The scariest part is not that I think they won’t accept my homosexuality, but rather that they’ll feel like I’ve been lying to them. Which, I guess I have been.

July 17, 2010

The Absurd Hellishness of My First Semi-Disgrace, Pt. I

[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.]

She will probably read this somehow, eventually, and it hardly matters—she knows, and has for some forty-eight hours.
I slept in my car last night. I had been offered plenty of beds, but fell asleep drunkenly slouched all the way down in the front seat of my car, and never bothered to respond to my benefactor’s text message inviting me in.

The library computer has a sixty minute time limit for personal use, and I don’t even have a membership card. My tremulous fingers retard the fever pitch of my thoughts and it’s hard to sit upright on this wooden stool on account of my hummingbird heart.

She has known for some forty-eight hours, but the corporeality of my semi-disgrace only emerged yesterday with the text message that broke her stony silence after locking herself in her room and slinking around in the background while I entertained friends in my home for
brunch:

“You may as well have reaped out my heart & then spit on me.”

There’s an odd inversion process when a child moves out of the home, whence the child’s parents graduate from abstractions and turn into real human beings, for all their successes and failures and malaise and turpentine gradations of consciousness and abject depravity.

Preceding this transformation a parent is merely a vessel of self-service, an artificial processing mechanism whom you love unequivocally and who serves you French toast before high school,
even waking up hours before their own work day to do so.

I had hoped for a reciprocal process, but the text message tells me better: I am still mere progeny, reflecting upon my mother the triumphs and inadequacies of her own imparted will on my being. Though it was she who insidiously found her way into my gmail account and read long, stream-of-consciousness messages forming the rough draft of my imminent Bildungsroman, and multitudinous uncensored anecdotes of my sexual experiences over the course of the last year, I am the aggressor here, thrusting her headfirst into her own naiveté and veritable nightmare, manifested in the candid prose of her devilish creation of four-limbed fleshfulness.

“Only God can forgive you for what are doing (sic).”

This couldn’t have happened two years ago, I wouldn’t have written about it. “I hope you are able to be proud of me again, though I can’t stake my happiness in that possibility,” was my SMS response. I can’t, and I can no longer deign to placate her in a guise of superreligious contrition. God cannot forgive me, nor do I desire forgiveness.

My instinct is rationality without succumbing to condescension; I dismissed the thought and replaced the word ‘rational’ with ‘calm’ in my text message, “I love you and can talk to you calmly when you’re ready.”

Rationality is secularism-cum-treachery in her universe and, despite having studied contemporary Hebrew Bible literary critique and history in my past semester at Duke, I should spare my insistent earnestness about the nature of the Bible—how its divine infallibility is a farce, how it’s teachings of worth—if any—are excluded from its grossly antiquated moralizing; how its social artifice is cruel and unbecoming of modern humanity in ways no lesser than it’s haughtily dismissed distant cousin Islam; how it has no conception of sexuality and speaks in only discrete terms of sex.

No of these ruminations will pass from my lips into her ear, even were I to scream them vociferously and hand her a bold-faced transcription replete with dictionary definitions of terms.

Having finished brunch in the highest of spirits, I sprighted up the staircase into my bedroom to retrieve my laptop and show my friends pictures from a recent vocation. The laptop was gone, in its place a Bible in a black slipcase with the acronym “WWJD” emblazoned in rubber pressed letters.

The last time this happened, condoms had been discovered from their hiding place in my bookcase. They had been used for women, then. I was sixteen.

“I can’t even bring myself to tell your father, who is so proud of you. “

The third and final line of her text message, and sum total of communication with me in the past forty-eight hours, is the only line without a grammatical error, and for my ESL-mother, this means she has pondered it most heavily.

And yet, it is nearly immaterial for me. I had divorced myself from my father’s approval in middle school, when I decided that I would retreat to a false projected identity in his presence—a typical response I feel, for those of us deeply wounded by our father’s inabilities to emote.

The timing is unfortunate, if inevitable—I had first desired economic solvency, a pragmatic consideration that could not be exaggerated; though my present hellishness is unexpected it is concretely unsurprising—twelve years ago my eldest sister revealed her nascent lesbianism. I want gather my courage, and resist effrontery, and be graceful. I want to articulate that, unlike my sister, I will not internalize feelings of self-loathing and “conviction” and become purged in a penitent religious catharsis that has maimed my sister’s soul and leaves her at impossible odds with her own identity.

I sat in a brew house last night celebrating a friend’s birthday, in the presence of at least four men whom I love dearly. No amount of rhetorical self-esteem-instilling-therapy can replace their investment and confidence and love for me, and the solidarity of their faithfulness —in no uncertain terms—presents to me a reality far more palpable and esteemed than even the foulest lapses of the (supposedly unconditional) parent-child contract my parents can possibly impart.

I can’t end this post with any modicum of resolution, because I have still yet to converse with or look upon my mother or father in the flesh, and am currently cherishing my self-imposed defection from home and hearth and the reverie of being “on the road.”

—tbc ,

Eric Fürst

Elena Kagan, Lesbians, and Women's Sports Stereotypes

Back in May President Obama nominated current Solicitor General Elena Kagan to be the next United States Supreme Court Justice. Kagan, if confirmed by the Senate, will replace retiring Justice John Paul Stevens.

Following her nomination, the news reported several key findings about her background. In addition to mostly being unsure of her stance on many issues, since she has never presided as a judge over a case, the media reported that Kagan has never married, has no children, played softball and has short hair. Well, the later of those one has to discern for themselves, which isn’t hard to do given her photo accompanies many of the articles (as it should/would for any other candidate). Nonetheless, the information is out there: She is "unmarried." She is not a mom. She has short hair. She played softball.

I’m not sure what this is supposed to mean. I mean, I know what I’m supposed to conclude. The media wants me to think that she is gay (an obvious deduction…not). Call me stupid, but I don’t really understand why those facts lead to that conclusion. These details don’t reveal to me any information about to whom she is sexually attracted.

I can’t isolate her history with softball from the other information of being unmarried or having short hair to make any assertion about the role her athlete status has on this suspicion. If she hadn’t been involved with sports, but was unmarried, without kids and had short hair, the same rumors would likely be circulating. And, if she were Jennie Finch (two-time Softball Olympic medalist), who with long blonde hair, a husband and an infant epitomizes the feminine construct, playing softball would probably not be seen as a marker for her sexual orientation. But in Kagan’s case, when all of these forces combine, a lot of people will have a hard time divorcing them from her perceived sexual orientation.

The softball storyline came out just the day after Kagan was nominated when a photo splashed across the front pageof Tuesday May 11th’s Wall Street Journal. It almost seems to me that this softball thing is supposed to be the icing on the cake, convincing people she’s gay. Like, “If yesterday you thought she was a lesbian…congratulations, you’re right! She is! Because look, she played softball!”

I don’t have to tell the readers of this blog that whether one is an athlete or not doesn’t mean anything about one’s sexuality and the assertion that it does is absolutely ludicrous. What it does tell us, though, is that she’s a competitor (even if only in a friendly way), she understands the value of teamwork and…get this: SHE LIKES SPORTS. (Is this really such a revolutionary conclusion?) Let’s not forget that Obama is a big basketball fan (he even attended the Duke-Georgetown men’s basketball game in January), but that only makes him “cool.” [sigh; double standards.]

I don’t know what to make of the fact that Kagan played other sports, yet softball was the one the media really latched onto. While completing graduate school at Oxford, Kagan was a coxswain (the small person who functions like the coach in rowing). She also played in pickup basketball games while clerking for the Supreme Court. What does it mean, though, that both of these other experiences were largely ignored in favor of softball? Does coxing pose less of a threat to patriarchy and therefore isn’t deemed to be as unfeminine because it’s not a physically exerting task? After all, the coxswain role is more analytical than anything else. But what about basketball? The stereotypes and stigmas surrounding women in basketball can be pretty harsh. Is something about softball “more gay?” [Aside: I don’t really believe in the construction of some things being ‘gay things.’ I use this language merely because I’m trying to understand how everyone else perceives different activities.]

In any case, this scenario is merely another example of the frequently tense relationship between the gay community and women’s sport. There is this stereotype which exists and like most stereotypes, there is some truth to it. By that I mean, some gay women have and continue to play sports. The problem is that this stereotype is seen as “damaging.” And I can't really argue with that on a practical level. In a homophobic culture (which ours tends to be), things associated with the LGBT community are negatively affected (even if they shouldn't be). This stigma is especially problematic when, like women's sports, the institution requires money to function and therefore relies on a capitalistic business model. It's equally problematic when the individuals affiliated with this institution feel the need to "protect" their image. What ends up happening as a result of this, though, is that the “higher ups” in women’s sport and many participating athletes seem to deny that gay women participate in athletics--which is just bad all around.

Because the truth is: some gay women play sports. Just like some straight women play sports. Some bi women play sports. Some transwomen play sports. Some tall women play sports. And some short women. And some brunettes. And blondes. And Protestants. And Catholics. And Jews. And Muslims. And...well, you get the picture.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that...I can't wait for the day when mainstream media and the rest of society finally come to understand that you can’t extrapolate anything about someone’s sexual orientation based on athletic preferences.

[For the record, Elena Kagan identifies as straight.]

July 14, 2010

Womyn Wednesday!



WOMYN magazine is excited to announce that we will be featuring polls from our community in the magazine! We want to hear what you have to say about LGBT issues, queer women, Duke, and a combination of the three! To this end, we're going to post a weekly poll here on the blog so that we hear everyone's voice in the magazine. The general goal of WOMYN magazine is to increase the visiblity of queer women on this campus, and we can't think of a better way to reach our community and beyond than the BDU blog. A special thank-you to Chris Perry, the editor of the BDU blog, who is letting us post a weekly poll!

Our first WOMYN poll is:
Who is your favorite out, queer, woman-identified celebrity role-model?

Click here to take the first WOMYN poll.

Want to view the results? Check out the UPB newstands when WOMYN is realesed on campus in late October!


Why are there so many options to choose from? The honest truth is that, we (Jack, Jess McD., Summer, Brandy, and Michelle) had difficulty providing just the 11 names (well, its technically 12, unless you want to count Tegan and Sarah as a unit). At one point we had a list of 15-16 women. It was actually a pretty powerful exercise to work on and realize the countless LGBTQ-identified women who have so profoundly impacted our culture. We picked 11 names but there are so many others that we're missing, so we also added a "submit your own" field if you have a different favorite.


And don't forget - submissions are now being accepted for the magazine! Click here to look at some ideas of what to submit. (Remember, submissions are rolling, which means that you have a better chance of getting your piece published if you send it in earlier, and it's less work for us!) Contact WOMYN by emailing us (womynatduke@gmail.com) or by visiting our website.

July 12, 2010

Anonymous Posts
(7.5.10-7.11.10)

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 :)

Before he left, Chris Purcell made me the administrator for the Duke Center for LGBT Life Facebook page. This is a WEIGHTY, overwhelming position that I nonetheless humbly accept. I'm down.

But currently there are only 139 fans? Huh, Community? Let's put this in perspective:

Sarah Palin: 1,858,320 fans
Toby Keith: 342,783 fans
Homework: 35,461 fans
UNC Chapel Hill: 39,006 fans
Carpe Noctem Quarterly: 128 fans

Get it? You get it. We can all do better. Join here.

Aaand anonymous posts, y'all.

#1
"Bilakoro" - In the Wolof language of West Africa, it literally means un-purified but has come to be a slur for uncircumcised women. Some of the reasons for perpetuating the practice of female genital mutilation is the belief that being a "bilakoro" is incompatible with being clean and healthy, feminine and beautiful, modern and sexually healthy.

I didn't really understand this train of thought, but circumcision (both for males and females) has been a contentious issue for me all my life. I've become so comfortable, almost proud, of being an uncircumcised male, realizing once I became sexually active that I was in the minority among American white males.

That being said, in every sexual encounter I've had with a circumcised male, there has been quite a little outward surprise with my uncut penis. It never really had an effect on me, but last week, I had a one-night stand with an (uncircumcised) male who, hopefully jokingly, expressed disgust and racial superiority about circumcision. He made it seem as if uncircumcised penises only belonged on men of color, that he was somehow better because of his cut penis. He said it was dirty and weird.

Now, I'm not trying to say that I know what it feels like to be an un-mutilated woman in a society where FGM is the norm and I'm not trying to make a direct comparison between FGM and male circumcision performed by an American doctor (at least not today), but for that moment and in the days since I felt like a bilakoro. A part of my body that I was comfortable with, even proud of, became stigmatized and racialized.

This is the only time something like this has ever happened to me, and I can only hope that it is uncommon, but I just can't believe that such a backwards way of thinking can still exist among seemingly smart, "with-it", college-educated men.

#2
Exciting News!!! (link)

#3
i wonder if it's a good idea to date a woman on a different, but close, campus? Keeping things in the Duke, State, UNC triangle i mean. hmm... thoughts?

#4

July 5, 2010

Anonymous Posts
(6.28.10-7.4.10)

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 am not one for bragging, but this weekend I saw John, Aliza, LC and J-Block while I was briefly home. This was an awesome time, and is the sort of thing that makes me superexcited to get back on campus.

Don't forget Womyn is now taking submissions, y'all.

Also know this. And read this.

And comment on our anonymous post! (And send one in yourself :) )

#1
I just wish other women on this campus would stay open to the idea of being with another woman.