September 26, 2011

Anonymous Posts (9.19.11-9.25.11)


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, hate speech, or express or insinuate that one is at risk for hurting themselves or someone else. Please read this for an explanation of this policy and seek help if your or a friend find yourself in that position. With those exceptions aside, please feel free to submit your thoughts and questions. :)

What a week! The blog "relaunched" and welcomed its first 2015 writer, BDU met and is well on the way to doing great things, Dorothy Allison rocked the socks right off of my feet, and PRIDE happened!

College sports are finally "getting it." Northwestern University's AthleticDepartment released an "It Gets Better" video featuring the football(!!), softball(!!) and women's tennis coaches and men's and women's basketball and softball student-athletes. Seriously, Duke, Coach Cut, Coach K, student-athletes...What are you waiting for? Also, slightly outdated, but the NCAA recently adopted a policy about trans athletes! 'Cause, yeah, trans athletes need our support and recognition so that they can go on to REPRESENT THE US AT THE PAN AM GAMES. We see you, Keelin Godsey!

And now, for notes from Our Community (OC...#ThisWillCatchOn)

#1
I'm a woman. I was (assaulted? taken advantage of? severely misunderstood by?) a woman at a party. She was cute. I was up for kissing and flirting, but not much more than that. Lots of drinking was involved. Pro tip: saying "I don't want to do anything you're uncomfortable with" and then going ahead and doing it without giving the drunk, confused person you're with time to process? Doesn't count as getting consent. I'm scared that no one will take me seriously because there was no penetration and no force involved. And, of course, girl-on-girl is hot. Someone who was at the same party and who knows her promised he would talk to her about it, and hasn't. It's been months. He's seen me crying over it, freezing up at parties/in sexual situations, on and on. And I can't shake the feeling that if it had been a guy, he would have been all over him the next day. I don't want vengeance or anything. I just want to be taken seriously, and for her to know that it wasn't okay. Mostly I want to stop hurting over this. I think I've processed the assault itself, but the lack of response aches. At party monitor training, they mentioned that men could be victims, but not that women could be perpetrators. It happens. It happened to me. And it wasn't hot. It was scary and confusing and it hurt me.

[Editor's Note: #1, Thank you for taking the risk and sharing your experience with us. If you are looking for in-person support, please see the resources at the bottom of this post. Also consider making an appointment with the Women's Center's Sheila Broderick, a feminist therapist who specializes in sexual violence. Sheila can also help inform you of what your options are when it comes to reporting your assault and seeking academic relief, etc. ]

#2
This post is a little long, and a little rambling, but bear with me because I think my point is an important one. LGBT activists are driven to their activism because they see or experience discrimination first-hand and want to change the status quo. I would hope that no one has objections thus far. The passion that some activists take to their goal is both admirable and exemplary. I would like to highlight, however, that their dedication to their mission is produced by the effect that they hope to have on their own lives and on the lives of themselves, their friends, loved ones, and co-members of the LGBT community (I understand that there are straight activists. That's why I said "friends" and "loved ones"). Many LGBT people and straight people are not gay rights activists. THIS IS NOT A SIN. The people who do not attend parades are not anti-gay, nor are they sustaining the status quo. They have lives outside of the LGBT community (I do not mean a criticism of those who do, but I do intend to stress this point). Many of these people are intensely academic, on sports teams, or passionate about another aspect of their lives. They may be environmental or civil rights activists. They may be busy. These otherwise preoccupied people suffer inappropriate disdain from the LGBT community at Duke. I believe that this disdain is at the heart of the "heterophobia" that riddles the campus. I am writing this post because I want you to think about it. The battle for gay rights is not a "with us or against us" struggle. There needs to be room for a part-time supporter. For someone who will speak up when presented with inappropriate homophobia, but will not attend a rally. For all of you stuck in Duke's LGBT center bubble, I urge you to remember your straight friends. Are they really that bad?


Please remember that there are a number of resources available on campus and in the local community. These resources are available over breaks and throughout the school year. If you or a friend are experiencing thoughts or urges to harm yourself or somebody else, please reach out to the following resources: In an emergency, please don't hesitate to call CAPS at any time, including "after hours" at (919) 966-3820. Ask to speak to the advice nurse and tell them you are a Duke student. You may also call the Trevor Project, a national hotline specifically for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer and questioning youth (college students included). Their number is 866-4-U-TREVOR (866-488-7386).

14 comments:

  1. #1: What happened to you was assault, and the fact that the perpetrator was another woman doesn't change that. I second Risa's suggestion to talk to a counselor about it - you do not have to deal with this trauma alone.

    #2: Your point about not stigmatizing Allies or LGBTQ folk who aren't full-time activists is important. However, I am leery of your statement that those of us who do involve ourselves heavily in LGBTQ activism are responsible for creating "heterophobia" on campus. I will provide a single, personal example to challenge your idea: I have never seen anyone refuse to sit by a straight couple holding hands or cuddling on the bus. Yet, the other night, my girlfriend and I were holding hands on the C2, and there was an empty seat next to me - the only empty seat left. Person after person looked at us, looked at the seat, and then walked all the way to the back, having decided that they would rather stand as far from us as possible.

    I'm not saying that there aren't any instances of LGBTQ activists criticizing those who aren't as involved, nor am I dismissing the seriousness of such behavior, but I do not think that you can call that criticism heterophobia.

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  2. #2: I also agree that by no means does a person HAVE to participate in a social movement, and nobody should judge them for this. However, I am curious what you mean by "inappropriate homophobia". I'm curious as to whether you think a certain level is acceptable, and if so, where you draw the line. (As a note: I'm genuinely curious, not going for moral high ground) Also, you seem to say that getting involved in the LGBT Center causes people to forget their straight friends. Don't you think you can get involved and still have friends outside the community? I mean, you can't be in there ALL the time.

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  3. #1: Freshman year I was sexually assaulted in a public area by a woman who got me drunk. I cried a lot. I was triggered often by bathrooms and alcohol. Fortunately I had a partner who forced me to go to CAPs and supportively listened to me. My experience with CAPs was underwhelming. I was told over and over again how terrible it must have been. I felt pitied rather than understood. I had a better experience talking to Janie, the director of the LGBT center. I had difficulty deciding who to tell about the assault. Some people told me it was my fault or that it was a trivial experience because I was drunk and the perpetrator was a woman. I think the best way to heal is to talk to people who have had a similar experience.

    If you want to contact me personally, my e-mail is veronica.l.ray@gmail.com.

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  4. Hey #2,

    I wrestled (/am wrestling? kinda) with the same issue for a while. Check it out for more background (http://www.bluedevilsunited.com/2010/10/to-be-or-not-to-be.html). But I totally agree with you. People shouldn't feel pressured to do anything that they don't want to. If that means not going to the Pride Parade, then that's totally fine. It doesn't make anyone a bad gay or anti-gay at all. I think what you are referring to as creating heterophobia is just the large amount of enthusiasm that LGBTQ activists have. They (We? Not really sure where I would fall in this situation) want everyone to get involved with the movement because they are so passionate for it. Some just take it a bit too far, however, in my experiences, the vast majority of activists are understanding.

    Also, at one time, I did think that somehow getting involved with the LGBT Center would make me forget my non-LGBTQ friends or that they wouldn't want to hang out with me. However, I can tell you it's not true at all. If anything, my straight friends have expressed how much they respect for getting involved with the community. They understand the homophobia that exists all over the place and think it's awesome that I'm still choosing to be involved. Being involved in the center has made me closer to some of my straight friends.

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  5. # 1 - Thank you for submitting this post. I definitely agree with what Risa, Jen and Veronica all sad. (Thanks Veronica for sharing your experience, too, about what works for LGBT-assault cases here on this campus.) Risa's suggestion to talk to Sheila Broderick also could not be more right-on. Sheila is literally AMAZING. She is a bad-ass, feminist woman and she definitely can and would put you in contact with the correct resources for doing the things you mentioned in your post-letting the other woman know that it wasn't okay, reworking through your situation, etc. It would be really amazing to see her I think, and I would definitely recommend contacting her. I can't say it enough-this woman is amazing and especially great at the tremendous work she does. Her sole job on campus is essentially to work with victims of sexual assault, and she's extremely LGBTQ-affirming; I've met with her and talked with her and we have talked openly about LGBTQ identities and the under-reported/unrecognized nature of LGBTQ sexual assault in particular. I hope you can go see her!
    -Megan

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  6. #2: "I believe that this disdain is at the heart of the "heterophobia" that riddles the campus." - lol, how could we forget the terrible scourge that is heterophobia that 'riddles' Duke campus? It's everywhere!

    "I urge you to remember your straight friends. Are they really that bad?" - Because clearly being involved with the Center results in someone rejecting and forgetting all of their straight friends. Great point!

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  7. #2- I really hope this was a sick attempt at humor. You only have time to be a "part-time" supporter? Maybe thats why you are ok with being a second-class citizen. You talk about heterophobia, but i have never seen a straight person hide who they were for fear of being mistreated, i have never heard of a kid being kicked out of the house because their parents are heterophobic, and i have never heard of a straight teen jumping off a bridge because he was bullied for being straight.

    P.S. Spell check says that heterophobia is not a word, do you know why? Because heterophobia is not a real thing, and it is certainly not riddling anything.

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  8. #2: This is an important point. I'm just going to copy and paste from a post I wrote last year:

    There is no one LGBT experience at Duke, and there is certainly no one way to navigate life at Duke as an LGBT student.

    And so long as someone's happy, and it works for them, then they should do it. That's totally legitimate. If that means never coming to the Center, if that means never speaking to another gay person on campus, then ok! No one should ever pressure them to do these things. One part of #7's post that I totally agreed with was his frustration that people kept insisting he get involved with all of our programming and meet all these other gays and such. That's not what anyone should be doing. The goal of "active" LGBT students and groups on campus is to offer options, not "omgyouHAVEtocometothisbecauseyou'regayand,like,we'regaytoo." If "gay" is not a major identifier for someone and subsequently informs zero of their decisions, it does not make them a "bad gay," "not cool," etc. because duh, it does not make them a "bad gay," "not cool," etc.

    But the other half of this is allowing people who frequent (or even infrequent) the Center or BDU meetings or events planned by either, to do that, too. I mean, it's kinda fun for some? Personally, it's a place where a lot of my friends hang out and I know a lot of peers (including myself!) have felt the need to use the resources that are offered. I think why a lot of students like the Center and BDU is well documented in the hundred or so columns and comments on the blog, so I'm not going to go into that further.

    ***

    But I was kind of hoping that we took care of this last year. I'm honestly sorry that people've been saying things to you like this. I'd hesitate to say that there aren't die-hard activists who also manage a rigorous academic schedule or "don't have lives outside the LGBT Community" (I didn't, but some people do haha). And for what it's worth, I haven't seen any heterophobia and I've seen (I saw? :( ) straight people at the Center all the time. But if this has been your experience, that sucks.

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  9. @6:34: Slowww down. While "heterophobia" is kind of an lol thing, ("Why isn't there a Men's Center on campus?" -Some People) it is sort of legitimate to say, "listen, I have other things to do right now like staying in school." Or, "listen, this weekend I just want to chill."

    Or, "to be honest, I think I'm going to work on gender or race or poverty or hunger or SAVING OUR PLANET THAT EVERYONE LIVES ON because those are also equally important things (if anything that last one kind of trumps all because you can't get gay married when you're EXTINCT). I would love to work on All The Things but this is just impossible because of how time works ("But..." -Hermione. Shut up, Hermione). But don't worry! These causes are all related and to work on one is to work on them all."

    LGBT issues are just one of a many very lot the world faces, and it is okay to devote one's time to one of those other ones. Especially since "I can't get married" sort of pales in comparison to "Uhhh, I'm hungry."

    It is becoming apparent that I can only express myself though hypothetical quotes. I apologize.

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  10. @Chris

    I love you. Marry me.

    #2: I completely agree with what Chris has said and while I haven't seen any heterophobia except in response to homophobia (and it's really only avoidance or judgement of specific people in personal conversations) I am not completely convinced that it doesn't exist. Especially given @6:34. (@6:34, I know you feel super strongly but know that for every cause, there is a spectrum of involvement and that they shouldn't be automatically criticized for their alternative lifestyles (sound familiar?))

    In my first year I vividly remember exploding at someone who said they were gay and just didn't think that LGBT rights were that important. While I don't regret my reaction of "Well by all means sit on your ass and watch the new season of Grey's while I'm busting my ass on Capitol Hill lobbying for YOUR rights!" I do think that if he had said it in a manner that didn't so nudge my passion to the side, I may have behaved a little more appropriately.

    Bottom line: I am straight, and I am gayer than most. You're LGBTIQ...WXYZ (trying to cover all my bases) or maybe even also straight and are just not that interested. That's totally fine. I'm sorry you've experienced negative reactions to the way you choose to live your life. Honestly, I hold true to the belief that people can live their lives however they choose as long as they don't use that to interfere with the lives of my loved ones or myself. I understand your frustration at this probably, but please know we come from a place of understanding (for the most part) and try not to preemptively accuse or write in a way that may devalue very passionate feelings.

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  11. Kyle,
    By "inappropriate homophobia" I mean any level of homophobia that makes me uncomfortable. I am neither the most, nor the least sensitive person on the issue and understand that what I may see as innocent humor might be perceived as homophobia by someone else. I feel compelled to speak when the humor is outweighed by the homophobia it reflects.
    I would not presume that all people forget their straight friends. If you are an active LGBT member on campus who has maintained a close connection with straight friends as well as ties to the LGBT community, then great! My post does not pertain to you.
    For those of you who could not hold back your hostility in response to a post on a blog meant to breed thought and diversity of opinion, I suggest that you try rereading my post with a different attitude. My post is meant to be a reality check. If you can go through a single day without seeking the company of a straight friend at Duke (roughly 90% of the campus) then you may want to consider the possibility that your dedication to your cause has eliminated much of the diversity around you. It is imperative that you maintain these connections so that you remember that not all straight people are the stereotypes you remember, hear about, or see, in headlines or entertainment.
    Lastly, heterophobia is not in the same league as homophobia. To claim otherwise would be idiotic. But it is not imaginary. If homophobia is observed by minority LGBT people in a predominantly straight community, is it so hard to imagine an uncomfortable straight person at the LGBT center (straight people at the LGBT center, please understand that I am not trying to represent you here)?
    I do not hope to change your ideals, but I do hope that you will pause for a moment and think.

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  12. @12:22, I'd like to question the following statement you made:

    "If you can go through a single day without seeking the company of a straight friend at Duke (roughly 90% of the campus) then you may want to consider the possibility that your dedication to your cause has eliminated much of the diversity around you."

    Could it be possible that there's just a coincidence that someone's LGBTQ identified friends are the ones they prefer to hang out with most times?

    Idk, just playing the devil's advocate here. I'm guessing you've seen instances where LGBTQ identified individuals are purposefully not having straight friends (or, do you mean to say purposefully having only LGBTQ friends?). But I don't see how that's even possible due to the abundance of heterosexual individuals and other things like living arrangements, clubs/student groups, activities, campus events, etc. I'm currently wracking my brain to even see if I can go an entire day without interacting with a heterosexual person... and note how I don't say "friend" because I don't categorize my friends as gay, straight, black, white, etc. Something seems very wrong with the idea of doing that... Plus, there's a bit of everything in my close friend circle (read: Diversity loves me).

    Perhaps there's a bit of hyperbolizing going on here and I'm taking things too literally? Or this is a hypothetical situation...? Then again, I'm not discounting the possibility of this extreme you've mentioned here with the homogenized (haha, see what I did there?) friend circle. It just, doesn't seem like it's something that could be a widespread problem; but isolated incidents deserve attention because they have to affect *someone*, and it seems to be bothering you.

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  13. "My post is meant to be a reality check. If you can go through a single day without seeking the company of a straight friend at Duke (roughly 90% of the campus) then you may want to consider the possibility that your dedication to your cause has eliminated much of the diversity around you."

    - Is this from anecdotal experience, or are you just making it up to support your argument? (I think it's the latter). I really can't think of anyone who this has happened to, in fact I would agree with aj that the opposite is often true

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  14. in a way, i sympathize with what the anonymous poster said about heterophobia. i would like to share why. before coming out, i took a class that focused on lgbt topics. several of the people in the class were out as lgb and actively involved with the lgbt center. i looked up to them in a way...i wanted to meet other lgbt people and there were some sitting right next to me. nevertheless, i wasn't exactly comfortable and the whole sexuality thing made my stomach turn. in the class, some of the straight people would say ignorant things. for example, mentioning their lesbian friends all the time or make assumptions about how queer people have sex. the open, out lgbt people would roll their eyes, shift in their seats etc. in response. i understand that this is a reaction to ignorance. as a queer person, i get it is hard to have to deal with ignorance all the time and to be put in the position of needing to educate others. nevertheless, their response to the straight people (who probably considered themselves allies) made it ten times harder for me to go to the center and find the lgbt community. if they rolled their eyes and shifted in their seats because the straight people said something stupid...things i probably said at some point before or after coming out...what would happen when i walked in the center feeling like my face was burning and unable to make eye contact? no, lgbt people shouldn't have to put up with ignorance, they/we shouldn't have to educate straight people. rolling eyes and shifting in seats makes sense when you/we don't feel empowered to speak up. that reaction doesn't build allies - which is okay, it isn't our job to correct people's ignorance and to help people be "good" allies. that reaction - whether you want to call it heterophobia or simply a response to oppression (which heterophobia is) - can hurt lgbt people, especially closeted ones. in the beginning, i was so happy to sit in that classroom with out queer people and it made my day when they talked to me. after seeing their reaction to the straight people's ignorance...i was a more terrified than i was initially and it was ten times hard to do anything related to the queer community.

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