February 14, 2011

Anonymous Posts (2.7.11-2.13.11)

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 The Grammys were last night and boy were they just great. Great work, The Grammys! Lady Gaga showed up in an egg (NBD) before performing the hell out of Born This Way, which came out (lol) last week.

Listen. I know there are mixed feelings about BTW.

I just don't quite understand them. "It sounds too much like Express Yourself." Well, sort of. Yeah. But you know what's a great song? Express Yourself. If it has a child and that child is sung by Lady Gaga then I am okay with this.

The whole CHOLA/ORIENT thing is a little weird though.

Anyhow. There was also an Aretha tribute that included Christina, JHud and Florence. Thank you, Grammys. That'll do! That will do. And of course Arcade Fire nailed it. But I think Janelle Monae impressed me the most with this. Right though?

Dr. Dre was there, despite being a not very good hip-hop artist (did they forget HOV came out with an album this year?) and so was Gwyneth Paltrow for some reason. The Smith that is not Willow made an appearance on stage with JBIEB 4EVR <33333. Bob Dylan's body was exhumed for the show.

But yeah. I'm sorry for blowing up everyone's news feeds last night with every thought ever (one read "LMFAO LMFAO" after this exchange). I'm sure it won't happen again tomorrow night during Glee.

Anonymous posts, yo.

I don't know if the post belongs on this blog. I think I'm hetero, for better or worse, though I like to think of my partner and I existing more in the realm of androgyny than opposite genders. But we are allies, and I've identified with posts on this blog more than any other I've ever seen. So I've thought to myself that maybe its not so out of place. I've almost posted here so many times. I just start writing as a comment to someone's post, and end up highlighting and cutting it out with a single stroke of the backspace key.

This time I hit "command + c" & "command + v" (or "control" for all you PC users).

This time it was Summer Puente's post about how not to come out. I've always thought her to be one of the strongest, most beautiful, and smartest individuals I've had the chance to briefly meet - I'll admit to an small brain-crush. Reading her post about her father making an effort to make everything okay made me cry a little and ask myself, "If I don't have the nerve to post as anonymous on a blog, how will I ever tell my parents?"

I have had a relationship that my parents don't approve of for a little over 3.5 years. I started out by trying to be honest with them. I told them I was excited about this new relationship. That even though it seemed like a bad idea, that it felt more appropriate than anything I had ever done. My partner and I sat at my kitchen table and tried to argue why, even if it were irrational, why we should be together. We all yelled an cried, my mom told us we were clinically insane. Then, a few weeks after it began, they wouldn't let my partner in the house, and my mother asked me to go to counseling at CAPS.

I've never understood why my parents hated my decision so much. They talked a lot about how I should be single going to Duke, how my partner was holding me back. Maybe it was true. Maybe we held each other back. But I had never met anyone like that. My partner is unique, from a different time or a different place, I don't know. But I refused to give up on the chance of getting to know this extraordinary individual. So I had the fights. It got petty. A few members of my family took to calling my partner "Fugly." I found ways to not go home. I found ways to cut them out of my life. Except for my dad, who stood up for me in every way he could that wouldn't destroy his marriage. My dad and I actually grew closer - as long as we didn't talk about my romantic life.

Two years after that, my parents said if we didn't break up, they'd stop contributing to paying for anything in my life: from my college education to health insurance. I was shocked that my liberal parents, who've offered to adopt my homosexual friends, were about to disown me. I was abroad at the time, I skyped the Duke Financial Aid Office and I found out that Duke wont maintain an undergrad with no financial backing. So, after a long fight, we decided to go underground. We've been secret for almost two years.

It's odd, being secret made things easier between us. We no longer had to talk about the fact that my parents didn't approve. I didn't have to fight with them any more. What they never tell you about having a rejected relationship is that every little argument a normal couple has turns into an argument about how best to deal with the hate directed at you. But, as a secret, we are together, not divided. Just secret. We cannot hope for approval, so the secrecy is a wonderful reprieve.

The hardest part is actually the internet.In the physical public, we can live pretty freely, we look like we don't belong at Duke (one time the people at the Link asked if my partner needed to be escorted out of the building) but that never hurt my feelings. No hate speech, no particularly funny looks, no fights with drunken strangers defending our love. We can walk around freely and pretend everything is normal. Because we don't have to hide from everyone, just from a small set of people.

But the virtual public is another case entirely. If Facebook is where our memories are stored, then my relationship would fall so deep into oblivion it could not be recovered.There are two photos tagged of us together. One is of a cup, the other, we are standing 3 feet apart. It may seem shallow, but it hurts so badly when some mechanism deep inside of Facebook clicks and suggests that I "get in touch" with the person I've been in love with for the past 3.5 years. This blog post will be the first publicly published admission of our relationship, and even this much makes me nervous because I know I will be recognized. But I'm trusting to chance that my parents wont see it. I feel like I owe it to someone, maybe just myself, to admit in some open forum that my relationship exists.

Now that I'm about to graduate, I simply don't know what to do. In college, it's easy, they don't know about my life. But if we live together, don't I eventually have to tell my parents? Or will I keep having nightmares of my partner hiding in bathrooms and closets, behind shower curtains and winter coats? What do you do when you love your parents even when they hate part of your life? How do I tell my dad, who has been a fairly innocent bystander for all this, that I've been lying to him for years?

I guess that is about enough of my first-world problems - I don't have to hide from the whole world so it can't be too bad. But then, why do I feel so fake when I laugh all this off?

I don't label myself because I don't know what that label would say. Not gay, not necessarily bi, and definitely not straight. Queer seems like a good word. I know what I like when I see it. But trying to explain that, or trying to define it just seems to take me in circles. I'm still questioning, and I often wonder where I fit in here at Duke. How do you get involved with LGBTQ activities when you're still so closeted? But if you're still hiding that part of yourself, how can you ever expect to find someone, right? I'm tired of being lonely.

At the beginning of high school, I never really questioned my sexuality. At the same time, I'd never had a boyfriend, but I'd always been physically attracted to boys. It felt good and normal. And then, sophomore year, I got really close to one of my friends, and for one reason or another I kept craving more and more time with her. It was what one might call a "girl crush" or perhaps a "personality crush" in my case. We were affectionate, but that wasn't abnormal for my group of friends. I may have realized I was attracted to her, but I didn't think much of it until, at a party, a gay friend of a friend (male) asked us if we were dating. Immediately, we both got freaked out and quickly answered no. The affection began to stop, as did our friendship. At points, I fooled myself into thinking I had/still did love her. I realize that wasn't true at all, but afterward I began to see women as more attractive. I had mini crushes after that, which I of course classified as all "girl crushes" which meant nothing. After a while, the feelings for women wore off and I was relieved to feel "straight" again. I dated a number of guys and had a strong connection to one of them.

Coming to Duke, however, I have started to feel an attraction toward women again. As much as I'm supportive of LGBTQ individuals (my best friend from home is a lesbian), I can't bring myself to honestly address my feelings. It's not that I don't like men, I definitely do. What is confusing is that I'm trying to decide whether I identify as bisexual or not. I don't know if it's just the "excitement" or "danger" of being with a woman that entices me or if it's something else. I worry that no one will want to date me if I'm bisexual because I "swing both ways" or may be "more prone to cheating" or whatever. I feel that, if I come out as bisexual, women wouldn't actually be interested in me and I would just put myself through judgement for nothing. Sometimes I feel as if I need an experience with a woman to decide for sure, before I label myself. But it seems that there's no way for women to know I'm interested if I don't identify as bisexual. Any advice?

I’m a closeted, junior male. Until very recently I was pretty much committed to living my life as if I were straight and just marrying a woman I found myself compatible with and who I thought would be an enjoyable and productive partner to spend the rest of my life with. So to a degree I never really accepted to myself that I was gay; I felt like it didn’t matter because it wouldn’t be worth the hassle to be ‘out’ and have relationships with guys. Over this winter break I guess I would say I ‘came out’ to myself, even though I pretty much had known for years that I was gay—I said it aloud and typed it in a word document. Then I came back to campus and found myself thinking about guys a lot and wanting to come out to friends. I was really surprised how much my outlook changed after affirming to myself something I had known for years.

So now I guess I’m at the point where I want my friends to know, but am afraid of that information changing the dynamic of our group (I know they’re not gonna hate me or anything, but I just love what we have so much, I don’t want it to change in any way). At the same time, I’m not sure I would find being out at Duke to be particularly rewarding. I honestly can’t see myself becoming that involved in the lgbt community, because of a combination of not wanting gayness to define me and fear of not fitting in. I’m pretty quiet and don’t make friends easily, and I think that going to some sort of Center activity would be very stressful and uncomfortable for me. I like the idea of having a boyfriend or a guy I hook up with but don’t know how I would meet him/get into that sort of a situation when I have no connection to other gay community.

So basically I want to be convinced that being out at Duke would be worth it… and I guess my apprehensions go beyond life at Duke. Life being openly gay just seems so much more complicated in ways that I don’t want to deal with when I have a lot of other goals. I guess I’m just not much of a romantic, but I feel like everything is a trade-off, and if other aspects of my life would be better if I remained closeted, then maybe that’s the better choice?

I almost got outed during the dialogue after the Me Too monologues. That would have been funny. It would have been an appropriate time, albeit a bit ironic.

I went to a party the other night. I tried flirting with a guy. I don't know how effective it was. I think I come off as flirtatious with everyone. But I thought this one guy was attractive and cool. I stayed until he left.

I wonder how I come off to people. Do people think I'm gay? Do people think I'm straight? Sometimes I assume people think I'm gay (if not gay, then asexual, but who's really asexual?). That might be an insecurity. The only having a brief girlfriend once. The close platonic friendships with girls. The lack of stereotypical machismo. And yet, some people talk about how I'm a straight, white male. I suppose I should correct them.

Two years ago I had a big crush on a guy. We became friends, I enamored with him, him oblivious to my feelings, I presume. I sort of came out to him before that semester ended. Subtly. I just sent him an email, sort of in honor of valentines day, trying to express the emotions I had or have. I'm pretty much over him.

I emailed the guy I met at the party the other night.

I'm trying to put myself out there.


  1. So, I just want to say that I'm furious because I just spent half an hour writing comment replies to each one of these posts, then blogger decided not to post them.

    I'll try again later.

  2. #1: Wow, that's quite the story. I'm glad that you've found comfort (if not a reprieve) in the secrecy of your relationship. I was once in a hidden relationship, it wasn't good for me at all (nor was it good for my girlfriend), but it was the best alternative at the time. Being in that relationship made me realize that while public confirmation of a relationship is absolutely, 100% unnecessary, it's nice to have--it's reassuring. I wish you luck with whatever is to come.

    #2: Questioning is fine; there's nothing wrong with being in that mindset. Every now and then I slip back into questioning mode; for me, I don't think my sexuality will ever be a clear cut thing. In regards to LGBTQ events, just consider attending something you think sounds like you would benefit from. Trying to attend all of the events isn't for everyone, and could be detrimental to personal development in regards to comfort.

    #3: I completely understand what you've said in your 2nd paragraph, about the possible views of the public, and what you think might be pulling you towards bisexuality. I don't really know how Duke (oh, I know, generality, but that's the point) views bisexual individuals, and specifically bisexual women. I'd certainly like to know myself. Funnily, I think it's the queer women who'd have more of a problem with it than the heterosexual men, if anyone was to have a problem at all.

    #6, there are varying degrees of sexuality (you being an example of that), so for you to say "but who's really asexual?" is incredibly ignorant. Who are you to say what does and does not exist in the realm of sexuality?

  3. #3: In my last semester at Duke, I found myself in a similar predicament. I acted for the first time on my attraction to one of my gay male friends before coming out as bisexual (which I'm still kind of in the process of doing). Like you, I thought this was a necessary step to take before I could be certain of my sexuality. I now feel like I did a disservice to my friend and what could have been a potentially budding relationship between us by not being able to openly talk about what I was feeling and what I was doing with anyone, and allowing him and others to continue assuming that I identified as straight. So, if you find a woman who you are interested in, consider the implications that not being 'out' (at least as questioning) might have on your relationship; I'd encourage you to communicate honestly with her about your feelings before exploring them physically.

  4. #2: "I don't label myself because I don't know what that label would say. Not gay, not necessarily bi, and definitely not straight. " I wouldn't go so far as to say I'm "definitely" not straight...but I'd probably concede that I'm probably (?) not straight. Either way, this sentence in your post really resonates with me. A LOT.

    “I know what I like when I see it. But trying to explain that, or trying to define it just seems to take me in circles.” I’m different from you in that I’m not really sure “what I like,” but trying to understand this part of myself and define it takes me in circles a million miles per hour.

    At the moment, I actually don't identify as anything. It took me a really long time to be comfortable with that and to share that with others, which I'm only no starting to do. Personally, I don't identify with the word queer, but maybe that's because I don't feel as strongly as you do about not being straight. I'm still questioning. In fact, I'm more wayyy questions than answers.

    I think you answer your own question, though, when you ask "But if you’re still hiding that part of yourself, how can you ever expect to find someone, right?” Unfortunately, you really can’t. In order to find someone, you’re going to at least have to admit that to the person to whom you’re attracted. If you want to try to find that person without telling your friends of your situation and you feel comfortable going out without a wing person (and where there will inevitably be other Dukies), you might find going to Vespa on the first or third Friday of the month to be a place where you can explore your options and indulge in something that feels right for you.

    As far as getting involved in campus LGBTQ activities while you’re still closeted, you can absolutely jump in as an “ally,” and then come out to people when and if you want to later. I’ve been involved with LGBTQ community for a while, and never flaunted my sexuality one way or the other. Once I got past some deeply internalize homophobia, I’d let people make whatever assumptions they made and went on with my life. Once or twice someone referred to be as a lesbian, and I’d politely tell them that I didn’t actually identify as a lesbian, without actually telling them how I did identify or where I was at in my process. Nobody minded one bit.

  5. #3: First, I want to commend you for honestly addressing your feelings in your anonymous post. That’s a huge first step.

    "Sometimes I feel as if I need an experience with a woman to decide for sure, before I label myself. But it seems that there's no way for women to know I'm interested if I don't identify as bisexual." You actually could have taken these words right out of my mouth. A lesbian friend of mine thinks it’s an unfair double standard, since most straight people don’t feel the need to have an experience with the opposite sex to know that they are straight. For me, however, I think that I need experiences with both men and women to know more about myself. Given that I’ve had (minimal) experiences with men, I’m really focused on exploring things with another woman.

    Before I was sort of out, I also worried about being able to have these experiences without telling the world that I was questioning/maybe bi. As I see it, you have a few options. Luckily for us girls, we can make out and stuff with other girls under the guise of alcohol without it meaning anything to other people. Even though it won’t necessarily mean anything to the people who find out about it, it could still mean something and help you. This isn’t something that I’m comfortable doing myself, but people have certainly suggested it to me before. Another option is to come out as questioning, as anonymous 10:11 suggested. Who you tell is totally up to you. So you could tell people in the LGBTQ community that you’re questioning, without telling your (presumably) straight best friends at Duke. Or you could tell people that you identify as straight but would be open to dating a woman if the right person came along.

  6. #4. "I honestly can’t see myself becoming that involved in the lgbt community, because of a combination of not wanting gayness to define me and fear of not fitting in."
    I am pretty sure that most people who identify as gay don't let "gayness" define them. Also, it's not like coming out at duke means you have to attend every BDU meeting, fab Friday, and everything else the center puts on. It's not like getting a little involved in the community changes who you are.
    "Life being openly gay just seems so much more complicated in ways that I don’t want to deal with when I have a lot of other goals." Its true that things change a little bit when you come out, but, for what I know, coming out is usually a positive change.

  7. #3: Hi! So you wrote: "I feel that if I come out as bisexual, women wouldn't actually be interested in me."

    Hmmmm. Well I cant speak for other women, but it has been my experience that I'm interested in women.....who are interested in women. =) Anything else, for me, would seem pretty close-minded, and it would also sound like biphobia.

    It sounds like in your post you are worried about experiencing biphobia. Irrational fear and discrimination are things that out LGBTQ people are simply bound to face. I can't say anything that will stop the intolerance that you might face, but if you experience biphobia, I would encourage you to call it out when you see it and raise awareness. Within the Duke women's LGBTQ community, I have personally seen very little biphobia (especially this past year when we started to really embrace the term queer), so maybe you could go to WLW this month and experience this atmosphere yourself. It was by far one of my best decisions at Duke when I finally started to go over a year ago; scary at first to work up the courage, but with a huge reward once you get there. At any rate, good luck, and don't hesitate to ask us more questions when you need it. =)

  8. #1: This is the first time I'm hearing of a good experience with a secret relationship, and it's really an eye opener. Maybe you feel so fake because you have to keep the two most important sets of people apart from each other *insert awful Shakespearian R&J reference here* . It's not fiscally safe for you to tell them, so I totally understand. However, you might be able to tell them when you become independent. I'm sure that Summer will be able to provide so much great insight in to this though.

    #2:I think Questioning or Non-Specific is probably fine. Don't feel pressure if you haven't figured it out though! As for being closeted and going to LGBTQ events, you can go to the Center's facebook page/ find out about events through campus and just enter through the alternate door on the inside of the building (if you're going to the actual center). Or you could just be a super strong "ally" or even help with the visibility campaign. If you want to get involved but keep your privacy, I wouldn't really recommend something like Fab Friday. However, the discussion groups (I hear) are superb.

    #3: You don't have to feel pressure to come out as anything quite yet, if you're unsure, you can come out as bi-curious. I can understand the fear of being pigeon-holed as "greedy" or whatever, but there are some absolutely wonderful people in the Community and I would have trouble thinking that they would shun you as much as you think. As for the interested thing, Women will know you are interested if you show them that you are interested, but I would hate for you to feel suppressed by a label put on you just in order to get a foot in the door.

    #4: So I kind of back up what Dan says, but I totally understand the pressure to be normal and static in order to keep this great thing you have with friends. However, just because you come out doesn't mean that you all of a sudden have to "gay out" I would recommend going to a few center related things, but you don't have to become completely involved. I do feel that, if you're ready to tell people (and excited about it, even!) that you should go and be as out as you feel comfortable doing. It's not so much jumping out of the closet singing musical theatre, but you probably would feel a lot less choked if you were honest with your friends. If they've known you for so long and love you as you are, there shouldn't be many problems with coming out to them (some may need just a little bit of a turnaround time to completely get it).

    #5: What a fantastic group of people to accidentally out yourself to, though.

    #6: Ebony, while your response if completely valid, I feel like just criticizing someone about a mis-step of language and not giving any helpful feedback/reassurance to someone who asks anonymously for help is harsh and not entirely helpful. #6, just so you know, that was kind of ignorant, and you might have risked alienating people who identify as asexual and tune in for weekly anon posts or read the blog in general with just one off the cuff remark.

    Now, it's absolutely fantastic that you're putting yourself out there and trying to get in touch with a guy that you met and liked. As for being assumed as being a straight white male, I would say that if you feel bothered by it and feel like you want to correct them then go ahead. I know that it's a really tough thing (not just as a gay male, but as a person in general) to tell people that you like them. Best of luck, just try to keep your confidence up!

  9. Swati, granted that I had no reasonable feedback to give, I don't see the problem here. My right to state criticism should not stem from whether or not I've awarded feedback/reassurance. While that seems like a nice Constructive-Criticism-in-5th-Grade-Art-Class kind of thing to do, we are all aware that the world doesn't work in the "I'll couple something nice to go with something mean so I don't sound like an ass" kind of way. Also, what I said wasn't harsh, it was truthful.

    And to continue with my honesty here, it seemed like #6 wasn't really looking for "help" of any kind--it seemed like a post entirely devoted to self-conversation to which I had no response (because, hey, it's hard to interject in musings as such). I could give the empty "Oh, it's great you're putting yourself out there :) (yes, with the "encouraging-though-it's-really-a-I'm-trying-too-hard-to-be-nice smiley" included)" response, but I don't approve of patting someone on the back without any true opinion or meaning behind the action.

    Please note that I also did not comment on 4 or 5 as well. While your attempt to chastise me for making a comment on what I think is completely overlook by the community because of its rarity was noble in defense of poster #6, I think you should remember the fact that I can choose to reply (or not to reply) to whomever I want, however I want as long as I'm not personally attacking them, such as "HEY, you're dumb." or "Why are you so stupid?!" *insert trollface*

    I am not obligated to comment on everything I read on the blog, and I'm especially not obligated to comment positively on everything; no one is. If that were the case, this blog would be a mess of repetitive comments highlighted by detachment and empty concern. I am allowed to make a comment on ignorantly inflammatory quotes as I see fit with or without offering my "reassurance".

    To poster #6 (and also to 4 and 5) I really just didn't have a reply. Don't take it personally. I'm sure others will have a reply/reassurance/help to offer you; mine would've have been any good anyways.
    To everyone else, I apologize for this long, unrelated comment. However, I had to address this, because THIS is exactly the kind of thing that keeps people from posting what they REALLY want to say on this blog.

  10. To Ebony
    From 6

    I shouldn't have posted anything. I was just anxious about the fact that I essentially was putting various social relationships on the line (like, coming out), and had no one to share that anxiety with. So I used this blog. My mistake.

    What you said hurt my feelings. Looking back, I guess it was an uninformed statement about asexuality. For people dealing with the fact that they are not sexually attracted to others, I am sorry.

    Thanks for defending those people, Ebony. But there's a big difference in correcting someone's ignorance, and calling them out for it. Make it personal. Next time, try saying something like "That comment hurt my feelings" or "You may not have realized it, but it is offensive when..." That's going to create a much more productive dialogue. Chastising people does not work, not even in the "real" world.

    Thank you Swati for defending me. I appreciate you trying to maintain this blog as a safe place to share thoughts.

  11. #6 - "I was just anxious...I had no one to share that anxiety with." I think this is one of the reasons for the blog. It was not a mistake to post.

    About asexuality...yes it was an uniformed statement. People have a right to be angry, but it isn't something you should be shamed for by any means. No one is born knowing everything - not even Ebony Way.

  12. #6, it isn't a mistake to use the blog to share with others the anxiety you feel about coming out). Continue to do so; a lot of us have been there, and have done that, so you'll eventually get some feedback (maybe) once the War on Ebony ends. :) (there's a smiley, am I doing it right?) Just try to be more aware of others' sexualities. I'm sure no one would like it if I started making ignorant comments about gays, correct?

    And, honestly (like, times a TRILLION) the intent of my comment was not that of harm or to make you hurt, or whatever. Had I been the one to say something uninformed about sexuality--and believe me, it happens--I would've replied with "Oh, jk, that's what I meant" and I probably would've withered away in embarrassment, because that's what I do when I make mistakes like that, but I make sure they NEVER happen again, because I just couldn't deal. I just don't see why you took the comment so personally (is this where the "lack of stereotypical machismo" comes in? Speaking of which, not always an indicator of being gay, give your friends and peers a bit more credit than that)... I was merely pointing something out so you could fix it, just like, "Hey, your shoes are untied." I didn't step on your untied shoelaces so you could fall to your doom. That would probably require more than a two sentence response and would most likely be in all caps with an abundance of exclamation marks.

    Anon 1:29: I see what you did there. :P You know, I'm not one of those people who need constant reminding that I wasn't born knowing everything. Anyways, your shoes are DEFINITELY untied, but I like them...?

    >As much as I love the attention (and the opportunity to become an example for those who were talking about censorship on the blog a couple of months ago), I don't think the purpose of these anonymous posts were to expose the character of Ebony Way as a heartless, soulless creature from hell, who refuses to say nice things, ever, or bend to the desires of those more sensitive than her. (Is this considered a personal, personal attack?)

  13. i'm pretty sure i'm a third party in this, so no offense meant anywhere. i think all points above are good. the comment may have been ignorant to those of the lgbtq community, but i'm not surprised that an individual would question if there was such a thing as asexuality, seeing as it may not be something that is familiar. also, ebony, it's absolutely your choice to respond to posts how you want, but i think those who are speaking out against your comment are simply worried that that kind of blunt-ness will scare off individuals who most need encouragement. often times it takes a lot of courage to even post anonymously to a lgbtq blog because it means admitting to yourself that you have these feelings.

    so, hopefully if that is settled, i wouldn't mind if the conversation went back to the actual posts. i, and i know others as well, look to this anonymous section as a source of information and community, so i'd like it if we could continue to discuss the actual issues at hand. thanks :)