I promised to keep you in the loop about WOMYN, so here's the rundown: Our Senior Layout Editor, Robert Kollenberg, has begun putting the magazine together. We're also working with an artist to create a unique cover design for the magazine, as well as a layout redesign. Finally, just as a reminder, if you're on the Review Board, please return your comments on new submissions ASAP - y'all are the ones who have the power to accept or reject submissions!
I don't know if y'all are interested in my eensy saga of grad school applications, but I'll keep telling you anyway. So, I decided to leave my LGBTQ-related activities on my C.V. without offering any kind of explanation. In most ways, it has been a non-issue, but there is one particular incident that was a little unsettling.
Some of you know that, in addition to applying to graduate school, I'm in the midst of the scholarship competitions for the Rhodes and the Marshall. In order to be an official candidate from Duke, I had to have an institutional endorsement interview, which works kind of like a mock scholarship interview and a constructive criticism session all rolled into one. As you might imagine, it was pretty stressful, and I was very nervous. The interview was more of a rapid-fire grilling session than anything else - I was asked about a range of things pertaining to my thesis and my personal statement. Some of the questions I couldn't answer (I don't yet know everything about the sixteenth century in France, unfortunately), which didn't really help. The last question, though, sent me over the edge. I was asked what the climate was like for LGBTQ people on campus, and whether that environment had anything to do with my involvement with WOMYN.
I was not in any way expecting such a question, and my experience as part of the LGBTQ community is not something that I enjoy explaining to a roomful of complete strangers. Nor is it a story that I should have to tell, especially since my interviewers are human, with their own notions and prejudices that could affect whether I continue in the competitions.
I got something coherent out before I started crying uncontrollably (mortifying). Now, let's be clear: there are certain questions that should never be asked, and the one I responded to probably falls under that category as well. My situation is a little different - because it was not a job interview, I don't think that there is any kind of legal issue at stake. However, I think that every interview should follow the same basic, ethical principles. One of those is that no one has the right to force you to come out (or to out you) in any setting. We still have to negotiate a world full of prejudices and injustices, and in many states (and other nations) we have no protection against discrimination for being LGBTQ. So, know your rights, people, and assert them if you have any doubt about a situation.
My story has a happy ending, or perhaps a new, happy beginning: I am continuing on in both scholarship competitions, which is very exciting. I don't know how much farther I'll get, but even being at this point is amazing.