August 30, 2010

Anonymous Posts
(8.23.10-8.29.10)

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 :)

Sorry for the late post, y'all. I've been spending all day fixing my schedule, which includes "Steel." Of course. No duh. Normal college stuff. I also, in my first task as a Center employee helped piece together The Center's weekly email (check your inboxes, Community!). It was not very easy! Props to Chris Purcell (NVR 4GET) for doing it all those years.

So much to discuss re: this semester. More on that later, I just want to get these posts up ASAP. See you at the Welcome Reception, great to be back, comment on the posts, etc, etc.


#1
"I just wish that there was more variety in the images America sees. I don’t know any Antoine Dodsons but I do know quite a few gay black men who would give Will Truman from Will & Grace a run for his money in both wealth and career achievement, and I would certainly love to see a few of those types as a gay character in a drama or sitcom, or a real-life type in a reality show.

While I have no issue with Antoine Dodson, I hate that his over the top, neck-swinging sassiness, as real as it is for him, represents the current status quo for almost all black gay images in the media."


#2
Seeing the "Love=Love" shirts when I visited Duke convinced me to come to here. This blog makes me feel more confident in my decision and more pumped for college each time I visit. Thanks for being rad.

#3
I don't feel comfortable with the term "gay". It's probably because it's a category with a lot of connotations that I'm not comfortable with. I don't want to label myself as gay. That's why I haven't "come out". Why do I need to come out? Is it just the people who are attracted to the same sex that need to come out? They have to announce their sexuality? bring the bad news to their parents that for whatever reason their kid is queer? Can't I just go about my life without coming out? Sure I feel this weight on my chest. I wish it were undiagnosable anxiety. But it's just the stress from bottling up the truth about my sexuality. I suppose coming out would relieve that? But I don't want to...

I'm more offended by the term "straight". That implies that preferring the same sex is crooked--somehow wrong or abnormal.

I wish I had been more confident with my sexuality at Duke. I would have gotten more sleep, maybe. To the people I had crushes on I would hint, passively, my interest. There were only two people, really. One sophomore year. One junior (and senior) year. Too bad neither of them drank. All my sexual encounters involved somebody drunk and (pretending to be) sleeping.

I feel like some of my friends know my sexual preference. They must, right? I make cryptic, subtle hints about it. I don't date or hook up with people.

The closest I've come to the LGBT center was to get my hair cut.

My mom talks about turning our old bedroom into a guest room for when we visit with our wife and kids, or serious girlfriend.

I'm intrigued by "you people" on campus. You "Community" people. I want to interact with you. Or I wanted to. But I guess I missed a lot of chances to do a lot of things.

Would my parents think differently of me? My sibling? My sibling would. My sibling can be a bit bigoted at times. My Republican aunt, uncles and cousins might think differently. My grandmother might. A lot of my friends wouldn't. The people I work with wouldn't.

I feel bad leading girls on. I dated a girl once. After we made out the evening of our first date I felt no sexual desire. But we dated for a month so I could tell people when I went home for Fall Break that I had a girlfriend. I broke up with her and I didn't consider how she felt.

I was attracted to girls before puberty. I had genuine crushes on girls. I saw one girl I had a crush on in 9th grade without a shirt on (just a bra). And I was attracted to her. But then something happened, I guess. Maybe when I started masturbating. I've only been sexually attracted to one girl since then. That was 12th grade. And nothing came of that. Unrequited crush.

What about kids? I want kids. And a family. And a big dining room table. How can I have that??

If I were still a student I'd take one of my free CAPS visits and talk to someone, maybe. I used 3 of them over the years, but of course wouldn't tell a therapist the truth of my sexuality. Now I might.

I wrote it down and sealed it in an envelope and wrote "burn before reading". I did that a few weeks ago. I opened it and read it.

I don't know what to do. What could someone possibly say to make me---make me be open and honest about my sexuality? I feel like I've heard it all before.

August 25, 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.

This week's WOMYN poll is:

"Which political figure do you think has done the most for LGBTQ equality in the past year?"

Click here to vote!

(You can view the results of the poll in WOMYN magazine when it hits campus late fall semester!)


"You've got to elect gay people."
Harvey Milk (from his Hope Speech, 1978)

Whether they are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer or straight-allied, LGBTQ-friendly individuals in positions of political power have done a lot for us this past year. Most recently, Judge Vaugh Walker, the District Judge of the Northern California District Court, overturned the Prop 8 ruling in the exciting trial this August. (A stay was recently decided on his ruling; click here to read the full story.) In addition to Walker, many other political figures have contributed a lot in the fight for LGBTQ equality. Who do you think has done the most for our community this year? Express your ideas and opinions in the poll and comments section this week, and let's start a discussion on politicians who fight for equality.

Did you know? There is a group of politicians that fight for LGBTQ-equality known as the National Stonewall Democrats? The group is one of the few LGBT-rights organizations that is officially affiliated with the Democratic party, and it was founded by Barney Frank in 1998.

* * * *
Want to submit to WOMYN magazine? Click here to look at some ideas of what to submit. (The submission deadline is September 15th.) All are highly encouraged to submit - LGBTQ and straight-allied. Anyone with a Duke affiliation is eligible to write for WOMYN, including alumni, staff, faculty, undergraduate and graduate students alike.

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.

August 23, 2010

Anonymous Posts
(8.16.10-8.22.10)

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 :)

Being back on campus is, like, totally great. The LGBT Center student staff (Michelle, Megan, Jack, Justin, and I) and Janie went on a retreat this weekend to discuss fall programming and responsibilities and such. As you can imagine, it was more or less (more) The Most Awesome Time. In addition to the standard events (Chocolate Fountain Social, Welcome Reception, Fab Fridays, The NC Parade, Coming Out Day, etc.) we've got a couple other things up our sleeve which are obviously going to be tons of fun and interesting and insightful and tons of fun. I'm in charge of Transgender Day of Remembrance this November, which I'm excited about. I'm looking to mix it up a bit this year and, you know, just make Duke the most PROGRESSIVE school ever.

The NC Parade (which Justin Harris is in charge of) and Coming Out Day (which Megan Weinand is organizing) are going to need a lot of help, so let them know if when you're free.

First-years move in tomorrow! Supercool. If we extrapolate the trend we've seen with incoming classes over the past four or so years, the Class of 2014 is 97% LGBT.


And by boat, he means HUGS.

#1
Just thought you guys should know that this blog is part of the reason why I chose Duke. <3

#2
You're a beautiful man. You're so talented; your soul runs deep. And you ain't hard on the eyes either. I'm glad I knew you.

Love,
MP

PS-Come out, come out wherever you are and get happy!

August 19, 2010

Homophobia Strikes Out in the Golden Baseball League

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

I’m back from an absolutely amazing nine weeks in Colorado. I made several mental notes throughout the summer and hope to write a commentary on the (more-positive-than-I-could-have-even-dreamed-of) dynamics and attitudes that I encountered. First, though, I want to write about this story that appeared as the “cover story” on msn.com the day I got home.

On July 31st, Billy Van Raaphorst was an umpire for the Golden Baseball League (GBL) game between the Edmonton Capitals and the Orange County Flyers. In the first inning Bowers disagreed with a call made at first base. For the second day in a row, Van Raaphorst ejected Bowers from the game. After being thrown out for his antics (he reportedly rolled up his sleeves and mocked Van Raaphorst with a “gun show”), Bowers began screaming homophobic remarks at Van Raaphorst, who identifies as gay. “You know what I heard? I heard you’re a f---ing f----t." Bowers continued, yelling derogatory language and even “acting out” an offensive scene (I’m sparing the details; you can read about the rest here).

The GBL immediately suspended Bowers for two games and fined him an additional $500. Unsatisfied with this judgment, umpires from all over the league demanded that the league come down harder. They even threatened to strike. Following an investigation, which concluded August 6th, the league moved to suspend Bowers for the rest of the season and increased the fine to a $5,000 penalty. Soon thereafter, Bowers resigned. The Capitals have also announced that all of their employees will undergo mandatory diversity training.

The rest of Van Raaphorst’s personal story illustrates how being in the closet often negatively affects one’s sports performance:

Billy Van Raaphorst grew up in a sports-charged environment. His dad played in the NFL and both his brothers played football in college. Billy also played college football until he suffered a career ending injury during his senior season. The whole time that he was growing up and even as he continued to play football at a Division I level, Van Raaphorst yearned to be behind home plate in a major league stadium. His career ending injury gave him the perfect opportunity to break away from his family’s legacy of football and pursue his passion for calling balls and strikes. He graduated No. 1 in his class from “the Harvard of umpiring,” the Harry Wendelstedt Umpire School. Working his way up through the ranks of the minor leagues, Van Raaphorst made it to the double-A level in 2001. Van Raaphorst, who says he knew he was gay “pretty much all [his] life” but had never “acted on it” before, went to his first gay bar and had his first relationship with another man around this same time. Subsequently, things started going poorly for him as an umpire. He dropped to being 27th in the rankings and then was 45th (of 47). He wasn’t out to his colleagues, so he lied about his post-game plans and tried to ignore his coworkers’ questions about who he was seeing. By 2002 he was released from the minor leagues. He wanted to fight his release in 2002, but he says he was discouraged by family members and friends who “didn’t want all of the attention that would’ve brought.” He’s learned a lot since then and regrets ending his first relationship because he was scared and not coming out. Now? He refuses to ever make those mistakes again.
"I don’t make decisions out of fear anymore. I try to make fearless decisions now.”
Something we should all aspire to do.

Now, for a few scattered thoughts:
  1. Serious kudos to the umpires who threatened to strike over this. Seriously. I’m so impressed that they took it so seriously and really saw it as an injustice and a threat to a safe working environment. The league had already “dealt” with it and there was no reason (excluding injustice, of course) that they had to intervene. That they did so on their own volition is HUGE. Call me an optimist, but while some may see this whole incident as evidence for the “sad state of sports,” as Jason Whitlock does, I can’t overlook the evidence of progress as demonstrated by the courage of these umpires.
  2. I was utterly shocked to read what Bowers said (and did) in its entirety. I know that homophobia is out there and I know that it can get “really ugly.” But I’ve never seen it or even read about a recent incident which went to the level that Bowers did.
  3. In an interview since the incident, Bowers said that “I didn’t care that (Van Raaphorst) was gay…My mom works with a lot of gay hairdressers and I joke around those guys all the time. My cousin, she’s a lesbian. It doesn’t matter to me, as long as people are happy.”

    I don’t know what all of this means 100%. Is this like the “I can’t be racist, I have a black friend” mentality? And what does he mean to imply by saying that he jokes around with his mom’s colleagues? It sort of seems to suggest that in his mind he was “just joking” and that Van Raaphorst just didn’t get it. Which, given the explicit nature of his comments and actions, is just ridonculous.
  4. It isn’t really clear to me whether Van Raaphorst was released from his position as an umpire because his performance declined (presumably due to being in the closet and having to exert so much energy to stay there) or if he believes that it was some sort of homophobic firing decision (though he did not come out to any of them, he believes that other umpires found out he was gay since they all started incessantly questioning him about his romantic life).
  5. Also kudos to msn.com for featuring this story on their home page. Another sign of progress, if you ask me.

August 18, 2010

Spreading the Love(=Love)

I recently returned from summer classes in Vermont, and I am so thrilled to be back in queer Durham, in my haus/zoo, and of course, the LGBT Center (there are new chairs!)

This summer was so transformative for me. I am so much more comfortable with my body, my sexuality, and my goals for the future. I know all of the gushy goodness gets sickening sometimes, but I spent way too long being sad. And with all the great things happening this year in Durham and at Duke, I can hardly contain my excitement. Folks, we have so much work to do!

I don’t know if you’ve heard about Womyn. But I hope you know that Megan, Jack and I will not stop harassing your Facebooks, this blog, your dorm rooms, your friends, your plaza, etc, until it is finished.

Also, some really, really super news. There is a new free bus called the Bull City Connector that goes from Duke all the way into Golden Belt! Don’t know what Golden Belt is? Well that’s proof that you don’t get off campus enough.

DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA HOW QUEER DURHAM IS?! It’s soooo queer. You’re missing out on so much! So I hope to keep all of you informed as best as I can about the goings-on in town, because it is absolutely worth it.

To continue my excitement, The Pinhook has now changed its regulations to be 18 and up! There are constant queer things and dance parties and all kinds of goodness that you should investigate.

Some events coming up:

Queerbaret on August 20th, for those of you in town.

This weekend is also the Queerrilla Film Festival! Friday, Saturday, Sunday. Come out and support the love.

Also, a shameless plug for my partner’s show this Sunday at the Pinhook.

I’m not sure if you can tell, but I’m very excited for my friendlies to come home and explore with me. If you’re apprehensive about this semester, I think my enthusiasm is contagious, so you can come play with my kitties and eat cookies.

Much love, anticipation to see the oldies and meet the newbies, hope for a better year and a growing community of support and affection,

Summ

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.

This week's WOMYN poll is:

"What is your favorite event at the LGBT Center?"

Click here to vote!

(You can view the results of the poll in WOMYN magazine when it hits campus late fall semester!)


Whether it's Fabulous Friday, the weekly Friday afternoon gathering from 4-6pm, or the Women Loving Women meetings which allow LGBTQ-identified women to build community monthly with shared dinner and conversation, the events that take place at the Center for LGBT Life at Duke offer a lot throughout the year. Which event is your favorite? Let us know by voting in the weekly WOMYN poll!

(Visit the Center for LGBT Life's website for more information, and post in the comments section if you want to share your ideas and experiences. We hope you are as excited as we are to come to all of the events again in a few short weeks!)


***********
Need an idea of what to submit to WOMYN? We're looking for various people to write short commentary pieces on the results of one of our polls. Contact us at womynatduke@gmail.com with a past poll topic that you'd like to anaylze, and we'll give you the results to write a piece!

Check out our website for more information on how to submit. (The submission deadline is September 15th, but there's no reason to wait!) All are highly encouraged to submit - LGBTQ and straight-allied. Anyone with a Duke affiliation is eligible to write for WOMYN.

August 16, 2010

Anonymous Posts
(8.9.10-8.15.10)

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 :)

Moving in on Thursday, y'all. Let's do this.



#1
Looking back, there are a lot of things I did wrong at Duke. I was quite messed up mentally so I didn't take advantage of a lot of the things it has to offer. All this consider, the one thing I regret (though I don't like to use that word) the most is that I wasn't gay sooner at Duke. I really wish I came out earlier when I was there. :)

August 12, 2010

The Gay Disease

I always thought of AIDS as a “gay disease.” Whenever I went to a site for LGBT youth, I would see a prominent sexual health section with information about HIV/AIDS. This was my first sexual education, other than questions my parents answered (one being “What is oral sex?”) I recieved decent, though heteronormative, sexual education in middle school. I learned about STDs through pictures in my high school’s health class. I watched a memorable video about abstinence in religion class. (Its message against cohabitation and reasonable defense of waiting till marriage has stuck with me, it's line that "condom's are a joke" did not.) If I heard about AIDS in school sex education, it was presented the same way as LGBT issues. As in: We know that some of yall are LGBT or might have experience with HIV/AIDS, but we don’t have time to cover everything. You’re on your own.

The secrecy surrounding HIV/AIDS determined me to find out more. I tried to volunteer at the San Antonio AIDS Foundation (SAAF) in middle school. By then I was aware of my LGBT identity and had connected HIV/AIDS to it. I was too young. In the middle of high school, I donated a fraction of my birthday money to SAAF. By senior year I had participated in a variety of service projects to fill my school requirement, none of which had any effect on me. I contacted the SAAF again. After a brisk training (watching dated anti-sexual harassment and fire safety videos) I was a volunteer. The rest of the story is what college admission essays are made of.

I volunteered at the SAAF for only seven hours, including training. I popped into the SAAF less than an hour a week for a semester. I realized that service isn’t all making copies and playing with dogs at the pound. I couldn’t stomach this kind of service for very long. My main task was serving food to people on the verge of death. Most either spoke in inanities accompanied by inappropriate expression or looked permanently terrified.

One man was lucid enough to be my friend. My Catholic school uniform put him at ease. I was an innocent receptacle of his recycled stories. I reminded him of his youth: playing baseball, his first girlfriend. This man, like many of the people at SAAF, was black. This wouldn’t be significant except that since I lived on the Northside of San Antonio and went to Catholic school, seeing a black person was an unusual event. The only time I saw more than a couple of black people at once was at the SAAF. I stopped volunteering for a couple weeks. When I returned, I didn’t see my wheel-chair bound friend in the dining hall. His obituary, along with many others, was in a glass case. Growing up, I was sheltered from death. Other than my great-grandparents and opa, I didn’t personally know dead people. As a kid, I thought that the death of these ancient relatives was inevitable, a non-event. This man seemed healthy. His death seemed sudden, though I knew it was years in the making.

I have other memories of the SAAF. Wheeling a man to the outside porch so he could smoke. I put the wrong side of the cigarette in his mouth. I ashed and lit for him too because his hands didn’t work. He was good-natured and gracious. We had a functional, though mundane, conversation. I fed another man who kept repeating that he liked black guys. I told him I liked them too, sheepishly trying to hide my discomfort. Another man had the stoic face and tattoos of a contraband leader. The nurse ordered him in Spanish to open wide so I could spoon food into his mouth. I went once to a patient's room. It was dark except for a minature TV perched on a tall shelf. Her bed was lined with pictures of family, friends, and what I assumed was the healthy patient. My hands shook as I spooned the food. This woman had one expression (terror in the face of death) and four words (the food is good.) I took it for granted that her and I could never be friends, could never have a conversation.

All these experiences led me to believe that AIDS wasn’t what you saw in Rent. It killed people, yes, but it also took away their brains and marked their bodies. It forced them to tell old stories and watch TV all day. It made them the antithesis of sexy. Due to advances in medication, people newly infected can escape this fate with enough money or public assistance. Yet the regimen is exacting, the stigma still acute.

I admitted in my previous post that I am no sexual health saint. I do what I can to stay safe and keep up to date on my facts. I won’t engage in certain sexual behaviors. I try to keep my partner count low. In line with my Catholic education, I err on the side of prudishness and serial monogamy.

As most people know, when I came to Duke I became trained as an HIV counselor. (Don’t worry; I don’t remember what people tell me in my sessions.) I was terrified at first of giving positive results. I thought the person would be angry with me. I have since realized that I am still the innocent girl in the Catholic school uniform. I didn’t give anyone the disease. I still listen to stories, but now I can help people avoid life as a hospice patient.

Some of my fellow counselors are black women. Some of them, like me, made it clear that their identity was why they got involved with Know Your Status. I’m not going to naively say that HIV/AIDS will bring together the LGBT and black communities, but it is an opportunity.
A couple days ago I watched a movie called The New Age of HIV/AIDS, which focused on North Carolina. I learned a lot about the spread of HIV/AIDS on college campuses and in rural areas. I was ecstatic to learn that research is being done at Duke that might lead to a vaccine within 15 years.

I care about HIV/AIDS because I’m gay. While HIV/AIDS is not a gay disease it is woven deep inside of the gay community. I believe no one should be alienated from the sexual health information they need. Condoms, lube or dental damns (I plan on stocking up), information about the risk of certain behaviors or the disease itself are available on campus. An LGBT sexual health related event is in the works for this coming year. I don’t know what it’s like to be personally affected by the disease. But I have seen HIV/AIDS kill people, and I have seen people narrowly escape it.

For reasons I don't understand, sex is endowed with negative externalities. These externalities are impossible for me to forget (even at the most inappropriate times.)

August 11, 2010

WOMYN Wednesday!

[WOMYN magazine is excited to announce that we are 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.]

This week we would like to annouce that we have WOMYN bookmarks! Let's make WOMYN one of the first things the incoming students see! Click here to download them directly, (or click here to access them on the WOMYN website). If you're a RA, work at a location on campus, or you're just plan awesome, print out some WOMYN bookmarks (be sure to print them double sided with SHORT edge binding in Microsoft Word), and leave them in locations around campus or hand them out to help let others know that LGBTQ individuals are welcome here.

(Need a little motivation? Do it for the Class of 2014! Think about how different your first year would have been if one of the first things you saw during orientation was a bookmark for a LGBTQ women's magazine. It would have been amazing.)

This week's WOMYN poll is:

"Who is your favorite character on the L-Word?"

Click here to vote!

(You can view the results of the poll in WOMYN magazine when it hits campus late fall semester!)


(Note: This piece contains a small *spoiler* of the 6th season of the show.)
"Everybody's straight until they're not." - The L-Word

The L-Word was originally produced by Ilene Chaiken, an openly lesbian screenwriter, and the show ran on Showtime for 6 seasons from 2004-2009. (Fun fact: Ilene Chaiken also coordinated The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air before her work with the L-Word.) The television series takes place in Los Angeles (although it was filmed in Vancouver, Canada) and focuses on the lives of a rotating group of lesbian, bisexual and transgender characters who live in West Hollywood.

Whether you love it or you hate it, the L-word was one of the first primetime television shows that focused almost solely on queer women. In this way, the L-word was a major success, but in many other aspects it failed to live up to some of the expectations viewers had about the program. The show lacked an accurate portrayal of diversity in almost every way possible. Ethnic/racial diversity, socioeconomic status (they live in West Hollywood), gender expression and bisexual and transgender characters all seemed to be missing in the primarily white, lesbian and affluent cast of the show. In addition, some viewers thought that the show's final season, which ends with the murder of one of the main characters, fufills the stereotypical older LGBT literature plotline of the tragic lesbian ending.
But despite its flaws, it was arguably one of the most successful and popular LGBTQ-women's series to date. Due to its wide popularity, this week we wanted to focus on the show that placed queer women in a much more visible section of the media. Who's your favorite character? And what did you love/hate about the show? Let us know in the comments field your opinions and ideas about the L-Word. (If you're comfortable with your quote appearing in the magazine, feel free to add your name and your Duke affiliation.)



* * * *
Want to submit to WOMYN magazine? Don't wait until all of the schoolwork hits this semester-get your submission in now! (Remember how difficult Physics 53 and History 190C were during the school year?) The submission deadline is September 15th.

Check out our website for more information, and feel free to email us with any questions you might have: womynatduke@gmail.com. All are highly encouraged to submit - LGBTQ and straight-allied. Anyone with a Duke affiliation is eligible to write for WOMYN, including alumni, staff, faculty, undergraduate and graduate students alike.

August 9, 2010

Anonymous Posts
(8.2.10-8.8.10)

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

Not much to say, y'all. I'm home (!) and getting ready to head down to Duke in a week and a half. Getting in as many bagels and pizza slices as possible.

Also! Our good friend Swapanthi emailed in and alerted Us of the National Organization for Marriage rally in Raleigh tomorrow from 12-1. They are so much so The Worst (remember this gem?) and at a lot of the stops along their NOM MARRIAGE BUS TOUR 2010, counter-protesters have staged awesome parades, etc. I've been checking up with the NOM Tour Trackers throughout - scroll through the posts to find some awesome footage.

Anyway! Posts for this week!

#1
I was outed last weekend for the first time. A text came at 3 AM telling me, "i'm so so sorry but I told ------ and -------- about you. I didn't mean to and I understand if you never want to talk to me again. Please forgive me." Had this text come about 6 months ago, I would have been completely terrified of the results. My friend told two people from my small hometown where a friendly attitude towards the LGBT community doesn't really exist- and this is a place where news spreads like wildfire. Thankfully over the past several months I've become, day by day, more and more comfortable with my sexuality and more and more comfortable with others knowing. That being said, I still strongly believe that it's not anyone's place to divulge information on other's sexual preferences. Forgiving this long-time friend was easy, but I'm still quite a bit frustrated at the fact that it happened. Should I not be? When I told my close friends, should I just have assumed that it would slip at some point?

#2
I check my ex's facebook almost every week. I'd never take her back, but I'm afraid I won't ever get over her.

#3
Sometimes I just tell myself that my future girlfriend is just in in my next class, the upcoming hallway or at tomorrow's social event. I tell myself that we're just hours or seconds away from finally meeting each other. But my biggest fear is not that I won't meet her, but that I won't recognize her. I'm afraid she'll end up being so deep into the closet that I won't know her when I see her.

#4
It sucks that so many things in my head are so tangled: sexual orientation, trust issues, intimacy issues, sexuality in general, bodily integrity and imbalanced hormones, my medications...I just want to understand what's going on in my body and in my head and for it all to work correctly.

#5
“One has not only an ability to perceive the world but an ability to alter one's perception of it; more simply, one can change things by the manner in which one looks at them.”

This week in California, a judge struck down Prop 8 as unconstitutional. Great news. Unfortunately, not everyone sees it as such. To me, marriage for all is a fundamental right. But my ethos is kinda shot in this rhetoric as a gay guy fighting for gay rights. Regardless, it seems logically right to eliminate discrimination by sexual orientation. There are so many, however, that do not perceive this topic similarly. So many people are so stubborn in their beliefs that gay marriage is immoral. But I must say, I am just as stubborn in my belief; and of course, I see myself as correct. But am I? More importantly, is there a right answer? Is there truth? As the quote asserts, everything in the world is what we make of it. Truth changes as our perceptions of it change. Our society today perceives itself as being more “advanced” than previous societies. Such as the truth American society once believed that it was morally acceptable to enslave blacks. That blacks were biologically subservient to whites. Contemporary society has progressed past this “truth.” But what are we progressing toward? Is there some ultimate, universal truth waiting to be reached? I don’t think so. Societies’ truths will be ever changing, or “progressing”. No absolute truth can be achieved, as no absolute truth exists. The ideals, emotions, and logic of each individual are concomitant with one’s perceptions of the world, not of an absolute truth imposed by the world. So for this debate concerning gays and gay marriage, can I really believe I am right? If there is no truth, then there is no wrong. But there is. Those opposing gay marriage are wrong. This is of course according to my perceptions. So if I have deconstructed the idea that there is a truth/the right answer, then what is left? Just us. Ourselves, our society, and our perceptions of the world. We are doomed as a society and as a race to transient truths and to logically based but emotionally driven perceptions. But I do believe (hope?) we are progressing (slowly) as a society to creating a truth that homosexuality is neither immoral nor unnatural. I guess there's no palpable point to this post other than the idea we see and understand things not as they are but as we are.
-Alec

August 4, 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.

This week's WOMYN poll is:

"What is the most important LGBT rights legislation that has yet to be passed (or repealed)?"

Click here to vote!

This week we want to focus on the political legislation that many LGBT activists are currently fighting for all around the country. Most recently, the Matthew Shepard Act was passed and signed into law by President Obama in October 2009. Not only was the Matthew Shepard Act the first federal legislation to create federal protections for transgender individuals, but it also removed a past requirement that mandated that the victim of a hate crime had to be involved in a federal activity, such as voting or attending school.

The Matthew Shepard Act made crimes motivated by gender, gender identity, sexual orientation and disability fall under the umbrella of the federal hate-crime law of 1969. The experiences and statistics of LGBT individuals, especially LGBT youth, show that this legislation is an important necessity for the safety of our community.

What other legislation(s) do you consider the most important for our LGBT community today?

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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.

August 3, 2010

The Prison Effect

I apologize for not posting in forever. I’ve been busy with non-LGBT stuff. Also, the discussion group isn’t doing well. I’m attempting to revive it and not lose hope. [Update: Two people have already expressed serious interest in taking over the group when I leave!]

This past week I was at the computer hacker’s conference Defcon in Las Vegas. This led me to think about the “prison effect” which famously produces Lesbians Until Graduation (LUGs) at elite women's universities like Smith. Though I have never been to prison, I have been to Catholic school, math camp, frat parties and now a computer hacker’s conference which was 99.99% white male. (I know what you're thinking: Catholic school? I have fantasies about all-girls Catholic schools! The hetronormativity and proximity of our "brother school" created an exotic type of "prison effect.")

I am particularly susceptible to this effect for three reasons. I don’t know of any reliable, classy (sorry Steel Blue) queer women hangouts in the RTP area. I’m excited to check out CC's hip-hop nights. Since I have a girlfriend it would be for observatory purposes only. I’m interested in male dominated fields like computer science and business. And I’m the kind of femme who finds masculine energy more important than gender.

Picture this: I am surrounded by men. It’s probable that one out of the thousands of straight men I encounter at a computer hacker’s conference will think I’m attractive. It’s probable that I will find at least one man without a floppy Mohawk, giant Goth pants, and a beer gut. In fact, he will have a winning smile, an adorable Oklahoma accent, broad shoulders and the ability to hack SCADA systems. I can safely assume this man is straight. My nonchalance is an asset. For once I am not the embarrassing, over-aggressive chaser.

Of course there are one or two women that catch my eye. But, save for subtle body language (which I don’t understand) and asking a woman upfront, I’m not going to know her sexuality. Butches/studs are easy to spot, but I’m afraid they want more femmeness than I can provide. I have never seen a nerdy, Rachel Maddow type butch in the wild. And I’m not exactly attracted to women who wear sensible shoes, so the L Word gaydar checklist does not apply.

Finally, I avoid casual sex with women because protection is so confusing. Men get condoms. Women get dental dams. I have never used a dental dam! Yes, I am a public health hypocrite. So as to not destroy my public health credibility I simply don’t have casual sex with women. I don’t feel confident in initiating the use of such an awkward device. And since I have a girlfriend my lack of dental dam aptitude is a less urgent concern.

Do I feel good about my conquests? Not really. But it’s something. I want to taste that privilege many straight people have of getting lucky at a generic college party. Making out on the dance floor. You know how it goes. It’s like eating coffee flavored ice cream. I don’t like the coffee flavor, but it’s still ice cream.

I know many people won’t understand my susceptibility to the prison effect. They think if I call myself a lesbian instead of a queer woman I should treat interested men like wild hyenas. I think calling myself queer would be a cop-out. To me there is a gulf between romantic and physical attraction. I call myself a lesbian because my romantic attraction lies squarely with women. My physical attraction is nebulous. I bet (I just came back from Vegas after all) if you walked a mile in my shoes you would also hook up with some computer hackers, entrepreneurs, math nerds and Catholic school boys along the way.

August 2, 2010

Anonymous Posts
(7.26.10-8.1.10)

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 :)

It is August, y'all, which is pretty scaryexciting. This is my last week at the HRC before I return home to Long Island for a bit. I'll be at Duke the 18th for The Center staff retreat :) I spoke to Janie the other day, actually, and I can't wait to get started. She says they got tons and tons of applications to fill Chris' position (which is impossible, but w/e), and they'll start narrowing things down soon. I'm trusting you, Student Committee On This.

Another HRC intern sent me this article, "Disco-Ball Dresses and Spandex: A dispatch from transgender camp for kids" today. Hmm. I mean, wow! What a very cool, progressive camp! It is basically the movie Camp, just more comprehensible and without the worst character of all time, Ellen (I HATE Ellen, ugh). But as my friend puts it, "It's an interesting idea, though it's obvious that the author still sort of sees her child's being transgender a novelty ("her long-haired, cis-gendered (that means normal) sister" YIKES "she/he" OOPS etc.)." It is sort of cringing at parts. However, the author defends himself in the comments. VERY interesting.

Anyway. What a week on the blog, y'all. Whoa. The anonymous posts were very ! last week and matched in !ness by the comments. And then AJ was like, "let me write something that is awesome myself." And then he did.

Speaking of! With all the traffic this week I felt like it would be nice to quick see if new comments have been posted. (I get an email and if anyone else would like an email alert, let me know!) So I wrestled with code a bunch (and lost, for the most part) and came up with this widget on the sidebar. Meh? It'll do, I s'pose, for now. But anyhow! Just the heads up. It works.

Posts for this week!

#1
Hello again! So lately I've been wondering why it seems in the "game of romance" everyone seems to want to play the part of the chased. We all seem to want to be the one being chased after by love sick others. We all wish that person we are secretly crushing on would do more than just smile at us in passing and I would be lying if I said I just take a chance when I find someone I'm interested in. In fact for the better part of my romantic, if you could even call it that, experience I have been the one who was too shy to say anything to my crushes. Even if I was able to build a semi-friendship type relationship with said crushes, it never got past that. Just recently, I did a little growing up and realized that love wasn't going to just appear out of the sky and knock me off my feet like I had believed for so long. I've decided to take a new, more bold approach, and can now honestly say that I am willing to make the first approach.

I guess I don't seem to have been going anywhere with most of this post but if you will allow me, I'll divulge what I believe is still wrong with my new found approach. I've realized that even when you stop playing the damsel in distress and you don your knight in shining armor outfit it may not get you far because your damsel, feminine or masculine as he/she maybe, in distress may be in wayyy more distress than your shiny armor can handle. I guess what I mean is that not only do we want to play the chased but we get so lost in this role that we are not willing to "give a dog a bone." Ok ok enough metaphors. What I'm saying is, I think we all need to try to be a little more straightforward in our approach to romance. You see that cute guy standing over there, ya the one you've been eyeing all night? Go over and introduce yourself. See the lovely lady sitting down reading that book you think is hot, get your own book and sit by her. More importantly, when all the awkwardness of first time meeting is said and done and you two crazy cats are chatting more and more and getting comfortable with each other, make sure you communicate where you are and what you're feeling and where you see "this thing" going.

It's been a long rant, thanks for staying for the ride if you did! The moral of the story is, or just my opinion, don't be afraid to put yourself out there; it may be the one thing keeping you from find your right person.

#1.5
Whoops! I realize that my rant would be sorta contradictory if the whole thing was anonymous given the whole sieze the day attitude it took. With that said I'll sign this post as a means of standing firm with my post. ~Olamide