March 30, 2011
March 29, 2011
March 28, 2011
For those of you who missed it, lav ball was Saturday night. And while an unnamed person told me that it might best be described by "messy, juicy, slovenly," I'd like to say that I thought it was just lovely. Former blogger-in-chief, Chris Perry, once again impressed us all with his endless music selection. But the event really wouldn't have been possible without incoming President, Ari Bar-Mashiah [it's really pronounced with a throat-clearing sound at the end of it #I'mJewishIKnowTheseThings] and our Vice President Elect. And, I would have been dancing with myself (Billy Idol style [youtube just informed me Glee also sang this, who knew? [Ed. Note: We all did, Risa. GYLT]]) if it hadn't been for all of you who attended--so thanks to all of you who came out (#GayPunsNeverGetOld) to "The Prom You [or your straight friends] Never Had."
Make sure you didn't miss the other awesome stuff going on this weekend, though, like Duke Women's Basketball reaching the Elite Eight and Duke bringing home two national championships (fencing and diving).
Oh, and Matt's post about getting accepted to Duke (Hi, 2015! We want you!), Megan's post about LGBTQ life in Madrid and Cameron's blog about being introverted ;-)
#1I don't even go to Duke. But I just found out the most awesome thing today--during the 1960s(?) to the 1980s(? don't really know about time periods) my favorite history professor (who is incredibly important and an indispensable part of the department) was IN A LESBIAN ROCK BAND. I'm gloating in the awesomeness of all the envy of all you blue devil revellers ;-)
#2This post will engender a harsh response. I'm ok with that, but hope that those offended will try to address this as a genuine question and not a personal criticism of their gender/sexuality/way of life. My understanding of transgender people is that they feel as though they were born in the wrong body. They feel like a man, trapped in a woman's body or vice-versa. We, as a society of largely non-transgendered people, accept (or at least ought to accept) and accommodate transgendered people because it is not harmful to us, is important to them, and is really none of our business in the first place. At its root, being transgender is a denial of one aspect of your biology- your sex. My question is: How would we, as a society, react to someone denying a different aspect of their biology? If a white man insisted that he be referred to, and treated as, black? My question is not "where do we draw the line" because I am not certain that a line should be drawn. But I do wonder about how indulgent I am obligated to be to the peculiarities of others, and how apologetic I should, or should not be for misusing a pronoun.
#3I only just recently found out about this blog and I thought it'd be a good way to send a message out there to the LGBTQA (how many more letters can we add to this?) student community. I'm a faculty member, I'm 26, I am gay and I am absolutely not in the closet. My colleagues (of all ages) are VERY accepting, some are even LGBTQ themselves and as far as I know, no one has ever been a victim of homophobia and no one has come off as being homophobic in my Department (and it's a pretty big one!). I have a boyfriend, my colleagues ask me about him all the time, I bring him to our events/parties... All this to say that, as far as I know, many many faculty and staff members are open-minded and accepting of LGBT students. I think there's a post on this blog about a student who was a little hesitant to come out to her/his teacher about her/his sexuality and realized it wasn't a big deal at all for the teacher once s/he did. Let's make this clear: as a professor, you cannot discriminate between your students and for many of us (if not all of us) you don't even need this to be a rule for it to be what we obey by everyday in the classroom, in our office and on campus. More and more faculty members and colleagues of mine are taking the Ally training offered by the LGBT center and hopefully more and more "I"m an Ally" stickers will show up on office doors around campus. Another place and person you can turn to if you need to talk and need support and help! So just in case some of you were thinking "what if my professor finds out I'm gay/lesbian/bi/trans?", I'm pretty sure that they'll just tell you "Don't expect a special treatment for being AWESOME!". :-D
#4What do you guys (especially gay men) think about Modern Family? Particularly the gay couple, Cam and Mitchell? Just curious.
#5So these past few months have been rough for me. To say the least, I am very confused. I started feeling attracted to some men and I didn't really know what to make of it. I had never been in and still haven't been in a relationship before so this made it all the more confusing. What also made it worse - I had just liked a girl about a month before this all started. Lately, I have felt like I might be gay but have been struggling with being sure of it. It's not being gay that troubles me - I have talked to many people about how I feel and don't care about people knowing or which way I end up - it's not knowing that scares me. I'm not really sure what's gonna make me finally realize. I've been trying to meet more people in the LGBT community. I went to Fab Friday today which was a lot of fun but later on in the day it just made me think more about this dilemma and I just got more upset. I feel like I won't ever be sure unless I go on a date with someone or kiss/hook up with someone (guy or girl). I feel like this situation has taken over my life the past few months and I don't know what to do. And with only ~5 weeks left of the semester, I feel like I won't figure it out by then and then I go home for 3.5 months where I know one gay person and I'll be left to question that entire time. I just don't know what to do with myself regarding this.
#6For the past year here, I've watched my gay friends build relationships with wonderful people, and I couldn't be happier for them. Granted, when they are people that I am attracted to, it does make me a little upset, but I'm their friend, so I can't say that, especially when I really am happy for them. It's usually more about me being upset and angry at my loneliness than it is about them, and it also boils down to the realization that "I'm not their type." I'm a nerd. I'm an introvert. I'm quiet and generally awkward. I don't have the courage to tell people who I am attracted to that, well I'm attracted to them, for fear of being more awkward, fear of being rejected (again and again), and just overall fear that I'm not "boyfriend-material" for that person. I fear that I am looking in all of the wrong places, yet I do not know where to look for people. I've met people at the Center, but that has not worked. There are a lot of people and friends I know that I have my speculations on whether or not they are gay, but I would never go and ask them out, especially if I find out that they are actually straight in the process, since that would be extremely awkward (haven't experienced that yet, but it's only a matter of time). I have talked with my friends about this issue before, and the typical response from them is, "Don't worry, you will definitely find somebody, you shouldn't worry too much about it now." Thankfully, I have one friend who is able to be a pessimist with me, and she raises the point which I raise as well: "What if I don't find anybody? There are plenty of people who are single after college and for their lifetime. And look at divorce rates. Plenty of people are getting divorced, so did they technically find somebody?" I've only been at the whole dating thing for less than a year, but I see my options dwindle day-by-day around me. I know that I'm very pessimistic right now (which is unfortunate since I tend to be an optimist(-ish) in my daily life), but I pose the question: What if I don't find somebody here at Duke? Or back home? Or in the area? I plan to go to grad school, complete my Ph.D., and start teaching and researching after my years of formal education. I'm probably not going to have time after my undergraduate career to enter the dating pool while I'm in grad school, and by the time I'm done (which I approximate 28-30 years of age), it will be much tougher to find time and people to date. I mean, I barely have time as it is now with my schedule, but I'm definitely willing to make time for the person who I like and want to spend time with in a relationship. I've had the unfortunate pleasure of being disappointed by one of my crushes here, and as more friends find boyfriends, multiple. Personally, I would like to stop this. But how? I ask the community at large, what can I do if there is somebody that I like, I am >90% certain he is gay (certainty on if he, in general, is gay is not 100% for my gaydar), but I have no idea on how to approach? How are you all doing it? I really am curious to know. Is it Facebook, randomly meeting them at parties, or what? I just don't know what I am doing wrong.
#7Hey community, I wanted to respond to anon. #4 last week (defining identities and bisexuality as an umbrella term) in a way that I knew people would actually read it. So here it is. As recently as a month ago, I would have really agreed with #4. As an identified bisexual, it feels isolating and rejecting when people tell you over and over again that they're attracted to men and women, but they don't identify as bi. It leaves you feeling like "is my sexual identity out of style?" "Am I different from you, or am I missing a memo?" "Why do people at women loving women say that they wouldn't date people like me?". It can put you on a defensive platform, defending the existence of bisexuality constantly. It can also be really isolating to identify as bisexual when so many people are attracted to both sexes, but so few people will identify as bi. I started to think "if only you guys would identify like I do, we could have a community, an identify, and a voice", But that was back when I was attracted to masculine male-sexed individuals and feminine female-sexed individuals. It was much clearer back then. Now as I begin to notice that butch woman on stage or that gender non-conforming person in the corner, (and feel less and less attracted to men, but that's beside the point) I feel like bisexual doesn't cut it anymore. I'm not sure what to call myself, so queer is becoming a nice catch-all. Of course this leaves me feeling like a hypocrite. But maybe it would be nice to use bisexual as an umbrella term, much like transgender is an umbrella term. Or maybe queer is enough of an umbrella term and bisexuality should be included under it. Or maybe we should all just use gay. Anyway, if we could just choose one word to unite us all, maybe we would feel more powerful in numbers and in voice. Then people could and identify under that with their more nuanced terms without worrying about fragmenting our population and isolating certain people. It's just a thought. Anyway, I just wanted to say to anon #4, as a person who thought like you very recently, I can appreciate your frustration. But as I change, I'm beginning to change my mind. That's all. Sincerely, Nicole Dautel
We're pretty and sick,
We're young and were bored" –Ke$ha
Duke’s LGBTQA students were anything but bored Saturday night as they celebrated the annual Lavender Ball in the Freeman Center for Jewish Life. The event, hailed by some as a comedy of (drunken) errors, drew hundreds of students and was a function of Blue Devils United, Duke’s undergraduate LGBT student association. Event chairs Ari and his co did an outstanding job of planning and executing the event. Thanks also to DJ Chris “Gays-just-don't-appreciate-their-gay-icons-anymore!” Perry [Ed. Note: I just wanted to play I'm Every Woman at a gay event. Is that so wrong?!] and photographer Ollie “Prom-pose!” Wilson.
The theme of the event was “The prom you never had,” but I’m not sure anyone has ever had a prom quite like that.
(Above photos by Ollie Wilson. Many thanks to him for letting us use them, and to those pictured, for looking absolutely stunning!)
March 27, 2011
March 25, 2011
At 5:00 pm, I found out of my acceptance and by 5:01 I was wondering about LGBT life at Duke. The first phrase I searched on the internet was the first that came to mind: “Duke gay.” Whether this reflects my poor knowledge of Google’s search algorithms or simply my nervous excitement, I’m not sure.
What was I looking for? I’m not sure. I’ll tell you what I’ve since found, though.
Duke’s Center for LGBT Life is a great resource and the students that frequent it form a great community. Duke has many LGBT students representing all backgrounds. How many students? I won’t lie and say that we’re a Yale or a Smith, but there are enough students for a diverse, strong, and outspoken community. There are alternatives to this community, though—many openly LGBT students don’t have anything to do with the Center and are perfectly happy. The LGBT dating scene is strong, though the LGBT hookup scene is stronger. But that’s just college, right?
Openly gay students rarely rush fraternities and sororities, but it isn’t unheard of. Selective living groups—typically coed and accepting—are popular alternatives to Greek life, providing networking opportunities and social outlets without rigid gender roles or a stressful rush process.
While there is always room for improvement, the Administration has a history of LGBT support. In addition to funding the Center for LGBT life, it maintains a strong anti-discrimination policy inclusive of sexual orientation. That chapel you’ve seen or heard so much about? Yeah, it hosts same-sex ceremonies.
And don’t write Duke off, like I almost did, just because it’s in the South. Duke is in Durham, which has recently been crowned the Lesbian Capital of the South. Not lesbian? That’s okay, too- Durham, along with Raleigh and Chapel Hill form a region known as the Research Triangle, a moderately liberal oasis within the Bible-Belt. In 2009, openly gay Town Councilman Mark Kleinshmidt ran for and won the office of Mayor of Chapel Hill, which I see as a positive indicator of the region’s social progressiveness.
If you’ve recently been accepted to Duke University, I extend my congratulations. I hope this post and this blog are helpful to you and I encourage you to ask any questions you may have in the comment section. I also recommend that you attend Blue Devil Days to get a feel for campus culture, academic, social, and otherwise.
Oh, and did I mention that NC Pride ran right past my dorm last September?
March 23, 2011
Anonymous post #2 from this week really struck a chord with me. I read that one and immediately became infuriated because this is a problem I’ve seen come up time and time again in the gay community, especially among the men. As soon as there is a rumor that there’s some new guy that is out or in the process of coming out, everyone just has to find out who he is and what it looks like. This sickens me to my stomach because this seems to be the only time when the men come together. Now, some guys do have honorable intentions like trying to reach out and make you feel welcome, whereas others, let’s just say, have less honorable motives. Why can’t we just let people live there lives and come out when they want instead of exposing them to everyone else? I know we love to welcome new members into the community but they should do that in their own time. Please correct me if I’m wrong, but aren’t we as community here to be there for those that want to join us? It’s one thing to go up to someone in the Center and strike up a conversation with them (but NOT going directly to discussing their sexuality) and it’s a completely different thing to approach them anywhere else and ask them on a date. The former of these is a friendly welcome while the latter is a stalker move.
Maybe I’m a bit overly critical, but I have reason to be. In high school, when I first began coming out to my friends, I asked them to not tell anyone because *I* wanted to do it and I had hoped to contain my little secret to my close group of friends. Well, it only took one person to say something to the wrong person and soon enough, the entire school knew. I began to get weird looks from people that I had only interacted with maybe once or twice. The three other openly gay guys in the school started approaching me and trying to get me to talk about my sexuality when they previously would not give me the time of day. So many people began talking to me only to see if the rumors about my sexuality were true. I figured that I might as well tell the truth since the unicorn was out of the bag. Thankfully, I mostly had positive reactions, but I was still upset that the people I trusted were so fast to turn their backs on me. I felt disrespected.
And that’s what this comes down to: respect. As a community, we need to learn to respect people’s privacy. Telling everyone about the people you’ve hooked up with thanks to the wonders of websites is not ok! How can we ever expect people to get off the internet and feel secure enough to reveal themselves openly, if we keep doing it for them? I think that’s one of the main reasons why we struggle to get new faces in the Center. They know that rumors spread like wildfires and if they’re not ready to be out to everyone, it’s easier for them to just stay in the closet. I, personally, don’t like everyone knowing all the intimate details of my life because I’ve been a victim of the rumor wheels and the little birdies. So, I keep a lot of things to myself or to people that I 1000% know I can trust, which is not many at all. If I want something publicly known, I’ll put it on Facebook or Twitter. Otherwise, it’s my business to tell or not tell as I so please.
If you choose to think of this situation as people just wanting to expand the community (which it honestly is for some people), that’s fine. But also realize that some people only care about expanding their hookup options. Part of navigating this gay social scene is being able to tell the difference between people that only want to get to know you and people that want to “know” you in the biblical sense.
I know that this isn’t the most optimistic, rose-colored view that many people debating on coming out want to hear, but it’s the reality of the situation. And while I love being optimistic, I have to keep it real with you. This community has its issues just like every other community does. Do what you feel is best for you, but if these problems bother you as much as they bother me, please join me in rectifying them. Don’t accept this as the standard. Come in and help change it. Let’s make sure that no one else has any problems like this again.
March 22, 2011
I used to think that something was wrong with me—that I needed to change. I used to literally cringe when I thought about my attraction towards females. Sometimes I thought that if I just ignored it or prayed harder, this part of myself would just go away.
As I’ve gotten older and have had more life lessons, I have become more comfortable with my sexuality. I’ve become more confident with myself as a whole. Coming out to my friends at Duke and embracing my bisexuality has really helped me see myself more clearly. I can’t really explain it, but once I was able to stop questioning/hiding my sexuality I had room to think about other parts of myself. I’ve had time to really challenge and question myself about the things that ACTUALLY matter in life.
What do I want to do with my life? What are my passions? Why do I get angry so quickly? What do I allow to influence me and why? Am I letting my past define me? How can I love myself more? What makes me happy?
When these questions (plus like a billion more) flooded my mind, I personally realized how much unnecessary worry and judgment I placed on my sexuality. I’m not suggesting that figuring out/accepting that I am gay should have been easy, but I am saying that in the grand scheme of things…I have much harder questions to answer/more difficult identity issues to deal with. I like girls. I like guys. If someone really cares about me…they won’t care about my orientation. The end.
However, I’m not gonna lie, I’m still not ready to tell my mom but that isn’t because I’m not comfortable with who I am. I’m not comfortable sharing that part of myself with her because I don’t want to hurt her and I don’t feel she deserves to be disappointed by me. So even though I’m still dealing with that, I’m in such a better place with myself. BUT I absolutely cannot take all the credit for my ability to let go of most of my insecurities about being gay. I have had the support of friends both in and out of the gay community. I appreciate them sincerely. I am very thankful to share with you all that I have 73 more friends to add to that list.
This past weekend was the best weekend of my entire Duke experience and I owe it all to Common Ground. I don’t wish to “preach” to anyone about my experience (but please ask me if you’re interested), but I do want to say that the people who participated with me have contributed so much to my life, my belief system, and my perception of self.
So to all of my CG Family reading this blog…thank you for affirming my being.
March 21, 2011
Hey y'all. In case you live under a rock (or in the library), March Madness is officially upon us. So are all of the newly infatuated with each other CGers.
More relevant, BLUE DEVILS UNITED HAS A NEW EXECUTIVE BOARD. Thanks to all who came to the meeting, ran, and voted. Another post with more details is forthcoming.
Cool things to know about if you're LGBTQ identified:
- The men's discussion group is meeting for their second time on Wednesday from 6:30-7:30 at the LGBT Center. They'll be talking about social relations among LGBTQ-identified men. How do LGBTQ men traverse the Duke social scene and navigate friendships and relationships between themselves?
- Women Loving Women is also meeting this week (Thursday, 6-8, LGBT Center). The owner of Nosh and her partner will be visiting, as the theme is long-term commitment and life as a same-sex couple.
Cool things to know about regardless of how you identify:
- Lavender Ball is this weekend! Come dance the night away at "The Prom You Never Had." Saturday, 9pm-??, at the Freeman Center. [**Wanna write a recap for the blog about this event? Hit me up.**]
- All of the Above is also this weekend. In its 8th year, AOTA is a monologue show directed and performed by undergraduate women. Any Duke woman (undergrad, graduate/professional, staff, faculty, etc) was invited to submit a monologue about anything under the sun (including, according to a little birdie in a tree, that "queer women fuck").
Lastly, if you like True Blood, 30 Rock or Ricky Martin, GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) says you can feel good about yourself. All three were recognized at GLAAD's 25th annual Media Awards this past weekend. #WhyNotThisBlog? We did get some coverage in The Chronicle, however.
And now, what you've all been waiting for.
QUESTIONING SUCKS. I wish I could be as confident as someone who identifies strictly as homosexual or strictly as heterosexual, but it's not that easy. I will constantly live with uncertainty and it's driving me insane.
At this point in my Duke career I could care less what most people think of me (if you haven’t guessed, I’m a senior on my way out). This is one of the main reasons why I started to come out to my close friends and hopefully everyone else. Though they have all offered me nothing but support and have encouraged me to continue coming out at Duke, the amount of gossip that goes on in the Duke gay community has been enough to keep me in the closet until after I graduate. Coming out has been hard enough for me without gay guys that I have never met before coming up to me and introducing themselves, asking if I want to go out with them, or girls that I interact with once every couple of weeks approaching me to verify gossip they have heard about me from one of their gay friends. Am I really that interesting or is there nothing better to talk about? I am not saying that everyone in the gay community acts this way, but if there are this may guys who gossip endlessly about who is in the closet then how does the gay community expect anyone who is in the closet and still somewhat insecure to come out?
My parents will come for graduation and they don't know. My plan, since freshmen year, has been to forewarn all my friends and walk on eggshells for the weekend. It's a sad way to end my time here, but it's safe. But more and more, I'm thinking that someone letting it slip won't be so bad. I have a job; I can be financially independent; I don't need my family for emotional support - the worst case scenario of geting cut off doesn't seem so bad anymore. Hell, I might even tell them myself.
You know what bugs me about the Queer community? We preach about "born this way," but then we let our own members use the craziest labels for themselves; we use labels that have no basis in actual categories of human gender or sexuality. I had a male friend. He was dating a woman. He told me he was attracted to other men, but was still straight, because he preferred women. I told him, "No. You're bisexual. By definition, that is what you are. You are attracted to both men and women, therefore, bisexual. It's not a good or a bad thing per se, it's just the category your sexuality fits into." I have female friends. They are dating women. They tell me they are attracted to men, but are still lesbians. I don't dare to have the same conversation with them, because they would be more offended than my "straight" friend was. What's the problem? What's wrong with admitting you're bisexual? Why does our community have so much biphobia? Here, this is a handy dandy chart that will work in 95% of all cases.
Woman attracted to men only: Straight
Woman attracted to men and women: Bisexual.
Woman attracted to women only: Lesbian
Male attracted to women only: Straight.
Male attracted to men and women: Bisexual.
Male attracted to men only: Gay.
Sexual identity isn't a "pick your own label" game. If it were, all those slurs the homophobes throw at our "lifestyle choices" would be accurate. But it's not. It's a (mostly) biologically determined essential part of who we are. So check the chart. Pick the appropriate label. Then use it. Don't hide behind "lesbian" or "gay" when you're bisexual, just because it's easier in the gay community right now. If you're bisexual, and identifying as something else, you're not actually out of the closet. You've just traded the bi-phobic world of straight people for the bi-phobic world of gays, and didn't tell anyone the truth.
March 19, 2011
With this in mind, I think it’s important to reflect upon this whole idea of visibility on a college campus. Visibility is, of course, important because it helps get the message of the LGBTQ community into the public and helps break down certain negative stereotypes associated with the community. Visibility can also make people who are not entirely accepting of their own sexual identity more comfortable in their own skin. I like how both Duke and UNC take active steps in building visibility on campus. There is a certain problem, however, that I would like to address in regards to visibility on both campuses:
Both Duke and UNC-Chapel Hill boast a center for LGBTQ life on campus: at UNC, we have the LGBTQ Center; at Duke, the Center for LGBT Life. One similarity between the two universities is the location of the centers—at UNC, the center is located on South Campus in a small office on the second floor of the student administrative building; at Duke, the center is located downstairs of the plaza, underneath The Loop. The locations of both centers are similar because they are, in my opinion, discreet.
I can tell you that, as a Carolina student, you can go months and months without even passing the building that our LGBTQ center is located. Even if you enter the building, you have to take the arduous journey in climbing the staircase to the second floor. Then, you have to roam the long hallway in search of a small office, mostly identifiable due to the bright rainbow that decorates the door window. Many of my friends who identity as LGBTQ have not visited the LGBTQ Center, and some of my heterosexual friends have no idea where it is even located.
Now that I am at Duke, I find that the Center for LGBT Life is also discreet. It may not be as bad of a location as the UNC center, but it is clearly not visible unless one is actively searching for it. I am not trying to be a hater, but I do think it is important to have more accessible and visible centers for LGBT life on both campuses. A center that is discreet or inaccessible to the average student on both campuses builds an idea to students that LGBT issues are only for those involved in LGBT life on campus. Everyone is involved in the lives of their peers, and it is important to make “visibility” a term that is important to both those involved in the LGBT community, and those who are not.
Visibility is so important, so kudos to both Duke and UNC students for taking measures in ensuring that the LGBTQ communities within both campuses are, for lack of better words, out and proud. Still, we attend two colleges where LGBTQ issues are not always on people’s minds, and having a physical location that is visible to all types of students, regardless of their sexuality, builds upon the notion that the LGBTQ movement is one that is shared.
In the meantime, I think it's time I get me a rainbow flag to hang outside my own dorm window. You never know how even the smallest things (like a rainbow button!) can affect a person's thinking--
Until my next post, be amazed and be amazing, while cultivating pluralism along the way—
A Tar Devil
March 16, 2011
March 15, 2011
I was wary of going to the Pinhook because I heard it was very “homonormative.” As a femme, I equate homonormativity with the erasure of my identity. But the Pinhook is not solely homonormative. Yes, there were girls in jorts. Girls in ties and plaid button ups. Girls with alternative lifestyle haircuts and an array of v-neck shirts. But, there were also girls in tutus and dresses. Larger girls and smaller girls. Girls wearing lipstick while rocking doorknocker earrings. It was like everyone I had seen on sites like Fuck Yeah Femmes, Fuck Yeah Dykes and Genderfork was at one big party. (Everyone I had seen on OK Cupid was literally there too.) And they were dancing! Not sullenly standing against the wall or trying to wade through a blockade of gay men to find each other. No need to ask “Are you straight?” For once, I felt it.
I know this gushing might make we sound naïve or inexperienced. I’ve only been to gay clubs in San Antonio, The Triangle and New York. (I'm aware that the Pinhook is not specifically a gay club.) Even gay clubs that aren’t entirely populated by men present an obstacle to queer gals. For example, most of the women who go to Vespa are straight. When I’m feeling entrepreneurial I approach everyone I fancy. This can get tedious. My $10 cover goes towards seeing more homo PDA than I would at a Duke Selective Living Group party. It goes towards catching up with members of the Duke and UNC gaystream. Do I expect to meet other queer femmes? Not really.
The Pinhook felt like an alternate universe, a dream, a drug-infused terrarium. It was a flurry of bodies writhing to danceable music. Piercings, tattoos, glitter, binders, soft skin, tube tops, gym shorts. I was slightly buzzed but felt too drunk to walk straight or talk cohesively. To outsiders (read: Duke students) this group might have seemed impermeable. Fun to look at, not to join. Through some inspired dancing and the queerfemmeness I radiated I became part of the potent organism that lived on the dance floor. It didn’t matter that I wasn’t feeling bold. Women pulled me to them.
Now that I’ve exhausted the pros, I’ll head to the cons. The Pinhook crowd was quite white- not as white as a Portland potluck, but close. The non-white contingent was represented mostly by light-skinned ambiguous looking people and cute black guys. I knew that if I came to the Pinhook every weekend I would get bored seeing the same small group of folks over and over. I don’t know if I want to become embroiled in the gossip and drama endemic to small, tightly connected communities.
Gossip and drama. All queer ladies must deal with them eventually. Sure, I’m an upper middle class Duke student, but these are Triangle hipsters, not necessarily denizens of the Bull’s Eye. Even the most sheltered Duke student would feel comfortable walking in this neighborhood at night. Am I really afraid of pot, crafting and social justice? No. In high school this was my scene. Really, I’m afraid that by delving into Durham (not as an observer, as a participant) I’ll shake loose the foundation of the successful social life I’ve finally erected at Duke after three semesters. Hopefully I can strike a balance. Durhamite (not just Durham) friendly in theory and practice. Duke friendly too, even if nothing at Duke will ever be as queer as the Pinhook.
Crucial question: Will the second time be as great as the first? I’ll find out soon.
March 14, 2011
Hey Blue Devils (and other readers)! It's Risa again...Chris is pretty busy doing the whole second semester senior thing in addition to working on other things for the blog and The Center (READ: TOMORROW NIGHT'S LGBTQA DISCUSSION GROUP AT 6:30 PM IN THE LGBT CENTER), so I offered to help with this week's anonymous posts.
I hope everyone had a fantasically fun spring break. I'm a sports nut, so it's only fair that I plug teams other than our two basketball programs who swept the ACC Championships! Therefore, while we were taking time off from Duke, awesome Duke athletes were representing our school at indoor track and field nationals [shout to Duke's SEVEN newest All Americans...that's a big number, y'all].
Also, I randomly found this cool blog earlier today. It's called College Women Speak and some Carolina students started it. It's a forum for women to share anything they want about their sexual experiences in an anonymous way. I'd encourage any reader of this blog to contribute and help rep queer women's experiences (and allies, too, of course!). Some posts already touch on same-sex sex, but more can't hurt...right? Right. #IWishIWasChrisPerry
Finally, it's Pi Day. Betcyha didn't know that I can recite the first 20 digits of Pi. But I can. Andddd, conveniently enough, we have 3.14 anonymous posts below :-P.
this had to be shared (link) [Moderately NSFW]
Firstly, I’ve had an awesome and relaxing spring break and hope everybody has had the same! I also hope that I’m not the only one writing on this blog instead of being outside enjoying the beautiful weather, but that’s not the point. Anyway, I’m writing this in response to a question I got recently, and I get asked A LOT: Why are you in ROTC if they kick out gay people? Every one of my (now ex) boyfriends has asked me that question, as if maybe there’s something wrong with me for being a gay man who is pursuing a military career. I feel like anytime I tell somebody that I’m gay and mention the ROTC thing, they always make a comment about “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” and how “courageous” I am or something irrelevant like that. It’s not that I’m tired of being asked about it, I just hate being put into this box where I have to be the token gay guy in what is an obviously homophobic environment who is always having to either defend myself or the military because of a two decade old law. I hate how people label me as a gay guy doing something normal instead of a normal guy who also happens to be gay. I feel like I should just go ahead and answer the question so that nobody else has to ask. So, why do I want to serve even though the military has a policy against openly gay people serving? How ‘bout we forget about the whole gay thing and just go with why I want to serve period. I love my country, and I’m not afraid to admit it. I love the freedom and opportunity I am guaranteed here, and I love all the good that the people of this nation stand for. Is the USA perfect? Hell no, we have problems everywhere you look—especially when it comes to gay rights. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t feel like a part of my community. It doesn’t mean that I’m not proud to be who I am, whether that means I’m gay, American, white, male, whatever. For me, the uniform means more than just an excuse to dress up in camo (and look good I might add) on Tuesdays and Thursdays, it means sharing a connection with the brave men and women who go overseas and sacrifice everything for people they don’t even know and ideals they may not fully understand. When I put on my uniform and see my last name sewn onto the shirt, I feel so honored to have been given the opportunity to help protect this land that I love. Not for one second do I ever think about the fact that I’m a man who is attracted to other men. The point I’m trying to make here is that it’s unfair to label me as being an exception for doing what I’m doing. My sexuality has nothing to do with my ambitions, and everyone here, I hope, will agree that there is no way in hell any of us should ever let who we are get in the way of realizing our dreams. Yes I’m gay, and yes I’m in ROTC, but who really cares? I’m doing this because I feel like this is my purpose in life, not because of who I’m attracted to. So please, don’t put me into a box or give me a label because there’s so much more to me than one word and an acronym.
Hi guys... Hope everybody's doing well! So, I actually spent my spring break with an order of nuns (the Sisters of St. Joseph, Philadelphia, PA), and I had the wonderful opportunity to get to know these people (shameless plug for the Christian community: I came out to three of the Sisters individually and only got the "O.O" look before they asked something along the lines of "So, do you like cooking?" xD) I kept a journal over the course of the trip, and as I'm really interested in people (outside of gender studies, even!) I wanted to see how these three girls who pledged to a sorority would say... I'm not into Greek life at all, so I don't remember if it was a social or honors sorority. But the really cool thing was, the more I started to talk to them (and I talk rather rapidly, so they did a good job just *listening* to me without tuning me out) the more I found out we really had a lot in common. There's an inspirational song that kind of sums up my experience: it's called "We" by Joy Williams. Go check it out, and I hope it makes you smile. ~ Summer is coming, blue devils.
Hey shockingly large portion of the gay community at Duke, Why are you still walking around with your Chick-Fil-A bags?
1. Is it because you are unaware? Google it. (link)
2. Is it because you think minority groups can't make a difference through boycotting? Don't tell that to the civil rights movement generation. (link)
3. Is it because you just don't care that much? Did you get upset over this? Or how do you feel when your rainbow flag "disappears"? What if you lost a job because you were gay, and there is no legislation in place to protect you?
4. Is it because you are apolitical, or think things that are outside your Duke bubble don't affect you? Didn't you experience joy because of this? Or have you thought of how many people this would affect? (NC marriage ban that *could* come to a popular vote WHILE YOU'RE STILL HERE AND CAN VOTE ON IT!!!)
Every person who rides the C1 is affected by political messages. Every person also has the ability to paint new ones, or paint over them. I'm not saying that you should necessarily boycott Chick-Fil-A, but please, for the sake of our community, make up your mind before it's accidentally made for you. No matter what your beliefs may be, at least reconcile your actions and beliefs, and give it some serious thought. Sincerely, Concerned
March 12, 2011
March 9, 2011
Laura Numeroff’s book paints a simplistic picture of common actions and consequences. The book presents a world of perfect information, where questions are straightforward and responses and answers are obvious. Many of us traverse about our daily lives performing actions and making decisions with little thought. This only makes sense, for if we weren’t conditioned to tie our shoes and count by twos, completing more complex tasks would be extraordinary tedious and time consuming. Yet often we take for granted our ability to perform these cost-benefit analyses. We lose sight of the fact that not every decision we make has tangible costs and benefits, that people assign vastly different values to outcomes, and that there is a whole lot of uncertainty in this world.
These daunting, murky, and uncertain waters have brought me to this blog. I’ve been a part of the silent majority of readers for a while now and feel like it’s time to throw my hat in the ring. I suppose I should introduce myself so you know a little bit about where I’m coming from.
I have a passion for sports, an obsession with American and Roman history, have been able to overcome the middle child/triplet syndrome, and love puzzles, games, and challenges. I like discussing anything from the NHL collective bargaining agreement to how you can identify someone’s personality based off of how they play Roller Coaster Tycoon. I love GUTS and Legends of the Hidden Temple and hate seafood or anything flavored orange. The first two CD’s I ever owned were the Backstreet Boys and DMX’s timeless single, “What’s My Name?” Rather than being 20 I view myself as half 10 and half 30. I am extremely risk averse, yet I love to play poker and gamble. In general I believe in the goodness of people and think that I have a pretty damn good life.
I decided to come out to various friends and family members over the past year. It came to a point were I had become sick and tired of constantly building up the walls of an imaginary and unnecessary citadel. I realized that the steps I was taking to keep my guard up were in no way commensurable with the ideals I preached and the life I was living. A very influential coach on this campus once stated that you should “erect no artifical walls that might limit potential, stifle creativity, or shackle innovation.” I’ve really embraced that sentiment and have run with it.
Like so many people uncomfortable with their sexuality, I had become extremely proficient at analyzing other people’s problems, deflecting questions, changing the subject, answering questions with questions, and speaking in mixed metaphors. My rhetoric and actions eventually became so twisted that my own life had became a mystery to me, and still is to a large degree today. I knew I was constantly shutting out those who were closest to me. I felt like I was playing a video game with a controller that I had broken half of the buttons off of. I was still able to get Frogger across the road and build the Pittsburgh Steelers into a hell of a dynasty, but I was making things so much more difficult on myself than they needed to be.
My single biggest regret is not coming out at the start of college or even sooner. Because heterosexuality is viewed as the norm, having to fill people in is an endless chore. I still have no idea of the best way to do it. I’ve had lunch with people, written letters and emails to others, even texted family members from airport security lines. Friends have blasted me for my frailty in informing people, but for me the opening of communication lines is the most important lesson to take from these experiences. So many people are internally at peace with their sexuality yet seem to endlessly wait for the perfect opportunity to tell people. Some are scared that once they come out people will only view them through the lens of their sexuality. My response is that every carton of milk has an expiration date.
Every moment you refrain from telling a family member about your sexual orientation, every time you refrain from correcting a derogatory statement, and every instance that you fail to stand up for what you believe in, you are not only hurting yourself but those around you. You are at the very least an innocent bystander in perpetuating a hypocritical status quo that champions diversity and individuality yet coerces conformity and inequality. Every carton of milk has an expiration date. As father time sits upon your shoulder and days, months, and years slip away, your carton of milk sours even more. And no one, not even a mouse, wants to dunk cookies in spoiled milk.*
The state of the union is strong,
* apologies if you don’t like thinking about spoiled milk or milk in general
March 7, 2011
Yo, Risa again.
IT'S SPRING BREAK!! So get hyped...or tap into your inner five year old, as I'm doing (Kraft Mac 'n' cheese for dinner, anyone?).
Duke Men's Basketball lost to Carolina, which was quite sad for most Dukies. But Women's Basketball came back to exact revenge less than 24-hours later, beating the Tar Heels in the ACC Tournament Championship game to win their second Championship in as many years!!
Breaking news: Johnny Gaga Weir, as his official 2010 Olympic credential named him, came out! In the sixth chapter ("Razzle-Dazzle") of his newly released autobiography, Welcome to My World, Weir tells readers about his first celebrity crush (Richard Gere, after seeing Pretty Woman when he was 6), his first kiss at 16, coming out to his mom when he was 18, his first relationship/love, and the first time he had sex (he was 19). He also details the pressures that exist in the figure skating world to adhere to conventional ideas of masculinity and how that isn't who he is. Before recently coming out in his book, Weir maintained that his sexuality wasn't an important part of his public persona (see the post I wrote a year ago, here).
Lastly, if you're on campus and looking for a place to hang, know that the LGBT Center is open from 8-5 (their regular hours) every day this week. Janie, Jess and Peg would love to see you around and are also available to meet if you want to talk with someone.
Now, for anonymous posts!
I've seen a lot on the blog lately about coming out (or not coming out), and I just wanted to say this one thing.... Recently, I've realized, that I'm finally, actually, truly, truly happy. And I have to say that I only became a truly happy person after I came out of the closet completely. And while I would never dare to try to speak for everyone, or even anyone besides myself, I think those doubting or hesitating the fficacy or purpose of coming out might benefit from knowing that it literally changed the hemisphere of my happiness completely. I recognize that it might not be this way for others-there might be circumstances that would make even an "out" life miserable. But for those who are thinking of coming out, and for those who are lucky to be in a place where it is safe to do so without fear of physical harm, then perhaps your experience might be the same as mine, and true, surreal happiness is what you have to look forward to. Good luck!
I am about to have the queerest spring break EVER.