I was offered admission to Duke University exactly one year ago today, but at the time I was justifiably concerned about a different kind of acceptance.
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?