December 5, 2011

Anonymous Posts (11.28.11-12.4.11)


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. :)

Wow. What a weekend. Women's soccer took us on an incredible ride to the national championship game, and, though we didn't pull out the final 'W,' I couldn't be more proud of the team or the way this campus supported them.

The Bar...Durham got pretty crowded Saturday night, thanks to one community member's efforts, so props to him and thanks! If you didn't get any action, have no fear--Sara (#i'mbitter) and I (Girl Crushes) teamed up to make sure at least the blog got some. :-P So check out the posts!

Happy December and good luck as we embark on Fall LWOC! The Center and BDU have a bunch of events (first year dinner tonight, Spectrum Tuesday, Our Lives Discussion Group Wednesday, Women Loving Women Sunday) to keep you on your toes, so check out the sidebar. And be sure to come out to the last Blue Devils United meeting of the semester, Wednesday, 5:30pm.

Now, notes from OC!

#1
Over the last week a few people have made jokes about my being gay or being closeted and I just go right ahead and laughingly agree with them. It's funny because I am (I think right?)! But it's surprising how natural it is to hear myself referred to as gay... I guess it's just an outward expression of how I tend to think of myself anyways. Anywho I'm just chillin in the closet until I figure out exactly how I feel... what do you guys think the chances are that that will happen (I know you don't know me, but best bets)? I'm not stressed or anything, because I don't know how much it matters if I "know" how I feel, but I do feel like I wouldn't want to come out as questioning or come out at all unless I was sure.

#2
I'd be curious to know the community's reaction to this. It's a rarely expressed viewpoint here, and I'm curious as to reactions. Shane

#3
[Author's note: this is directed to multiple gay men, although the letter is addressed singularly:]
Dear Gay male, Your comment last night was hurtful. I was in your room, and you said, "The Bar was so LESBIIIAAAANNNN tonight!" You know what? The Bar was about 50:50 women:men tonight. It really wasn't "that" lesbian-in fact it was almost equal, for once. We've been going to your events for years (read: BDU, Vespa, virtually any and every gay bar, etc.), and we never once told you that it was "so gay". Instead, we quietly tried to cultivate our own women's community and hoped maybe one day we'd get a space half as many women as we consistently see at your events and your gay bars. When I walk into the LGBT Center, I notice that you talk to the gay men. But never to me. I know you're not physically attracted to me-that's okay. But it's not okay to ignore me and pretend like I don't exist. Just because I'm not a prospect doesn't mean I suddenly don't matter. I speak with men when I enter the Center-not only is it common courtesy, but ignoring them doesn't even cross my mind. Why do you ignore the women in your own space? Is it because I'm any less sexually appealing than the men? (Would that rationale even make it okay?) You say you are "progressive". You then speak over me. You talk, and talk, and talk. I'm not sure if it's your white privilege or your male privilege or both that lead you to do this-but I feel like I can never get a word in. I wish you would realize that men, statistically, dominate conversation time. Women can never get a word in. Please don't tell me that "women are more expressive with their emotions" and so that makes it okay that you are being expressive now. Facts show that women's voices are routinely not heard-whether that is politically, economically, etc. You say you are a "progressive" gay. You're not being progressive if you don't ask the women what they think-and you're even less progressive if you simply don't care. Are you recognizing your own male privilege? If not, you're losing me as a friend, because your comments hurt, whether or not you can understand why. You can actively be my ally. You can ask me my thoughts, opinions-and you can be willing to be silent (not all the time, but yes, at times), and listen to my female voice. I hope you're willing to try.
-A Queer Woman (who is a member of your community, your "family", and just as much a part of this movement as you.)

#4
I told this girl I like her today...well I hinted at it and I'm pretty sure she got the picture. She seemed weirded out and the conversation ended shortly after. I thought she'd be cool with it because she's very open about one of her relatives being gay. I think it's somewhat funny that my first attempt at getting with another girl went so horribly. I feel really crappy. That is all.

#5
I just can’t help but wish that I was better at the whole gay bar scene/thing. I’m a girl who is pretty involved with BDU and the Center and I have a lot of lgbtq friends, but I still had a hard time figuring out who to go with to the bar on Saturday night. I’m not in any of the gay friend groups, and most of my lgbtq friends are guys. It’s hard to go out with them, because they, understandably, don’t want to have anything to do with me when they’re looking for a hook up (or even when they include me, I get left out once people decide to be sexy with each other). I’m not the biggest fan of Women Loving Women, which probably would have been the easy fix to all of this. Once I finally found my way to the bar, I just felt paralyzed. I didn’t know how to dance with anyone except my gay guy friends (a few of them have the same social anxieties as me, which means that dancing with each other is the safe alternative to having to find someone of our same gender). I like dancing with them. It’s fun! But I can only do that for so long…and it’s not why I went to the bar. But when it comes to other women, I don’t know how to do anything other than ‘circle dance’ in a group. And then it gets to the point where it’s just so hard to see everyone pairing up and being sexy with each other and not having anyone. I’m so at peace with being single until I go out to the bar, at which point I’m still fine with being single/not in a relationship, but I really want to partner up for the night, at least. But of course, I don’t want to partner up with someone who I know well from Duke—because what happens when I run into them on the quad or at the center later? This isn’t very coherent, but I guess what I’m trying to say is that going out is just all so complicated for me and by the end of the night I always experience frustration, disappointment, self-hate for not being ‘better’ at ‘this’, and am in a funk.

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).

9 comments:

  1. #4 - I'm sorry it didn't go well when you told her. I can relate to that sentiment from past experiences.

    #5 - Hi! So I'm showing my bias...I'm the coordinator of Women Loving Women, so I picked up your note that you're not the biggest fan of WLW. That is totally fine! There are things the Center does that also don't quite fit with me or my personality type. If you're comfortable letting us know what we might change about WLW, I'd be really open to suggestions! This Sunday's meeting (11th( is only about half-planned right now (don't tell Janie?!) and we're open to suggestion. (You can also email me if you'd like: mrw22@duke.edu).

    Lastly, yeah! Gay bars! It's interesting. I don't know exactly how you feel when you're there beyond what you articulated in your post...but for me...I know that when I first when to one I probably was a rabbit (you know how they freeze and don't move so people don't see them..haha), and then years later now feel super comfortable there and dance with random people I don't know. I guess what I'm saying is that overtime, LGBTQ bars became more comfortable spaces that I grew to love, but at the beginning I felt awkward and nervous. So, you're not alone!

    Good luck!
    -Megan

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  2. #3 - Not all gay men feel the same, I was actually really happy to see more girls out at the bar on saturday...it's about time the ratio became 50:50 and as a community I feel that we should be happy of larger numbers regardless of their gender or sex.

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  3. #3 and #5 this is exactly how i feel! i'm glad i'm not alone.

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  4. #3 First thanks for posting this comment. I think it is much needed and well over due. Women in our community not being respected or treated as equals is a big problem. Whether straight or gay, men are men, and so sadly even we gay men still carry our male bias. I know as some one who considers myself “progressive” I need to be more in tune with issues women face within our own community. To the GAY MEN- We must take the first step in this process, and learn that sometimes it is better to listen first and speak second. We can and should lead by example to show our straight counterparts what gender relations should be. We are all ONE COMMUNITY, and we can’t afford turn on one another. We have enough work trying to fight discrimination and oppression by those outside our community.

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  5. First of all, Wow. Thanks to all of the anonymous posters, each and every one of you got me thinking. So, I'll be that obnoxious one who airs a few of my thoughts on each.

    #1- Sounds like you’re in the definition of questioning. That’s pretty much how I felt when I started to question my sexuality, and I came to the same conclusion as you. I never came out as questioning, probably because the questioning part of coming to terms with my own sexuality didn’t last too long. As always, I think the soundest advice is to come out on your own terms. Which it sounds like you’re doing right now, so I wish you the best. As for actually answering your question, I really can’t say for certain. I honestly think most people have some homosexual desires and that it mostly varies on how intense they are, so I’m a bit biased. It’s a pretty personal thing, and eventually you’ll start to get a sense how deep those feelings run. Good luck!

    #2- Interesting. I’ll readily admit that I’m one of those LGBT people who are biased against the church, especially the catholic one. I know I shouldn’t be, but it just makes me a little sad to see people who are forced to deny their nature for the sake of following some natural order set out by a book written millennia ago. (I apologize if this is a little offensive to those of you who are religious out there, I’m just trying to speak as candidly as possible) I mean, an objective study of nature shows that homosexual behavior is just as present in the wild as it is in humanity, and none of the animals that practice these behaviors are ostracized from the main community of their species. So why is it unnatural again? I guess I can understand wanting to reconcile faith with sexuality with celibacy, I just think one shouldn’t have to.

    #3- I’m sorry you had that experience, and it’s quite clearly uncalled for and just wrong to want to push queer women out of LGBT spaces. I wonder if the problem isn’t so much male priviledge in this case but a typical example of what people get like when they want a hookup. From my experience, when people are out for a hookup they generally only care about potential prospects to fulfill that desire. No, it isn’t ok, but I don’t anticipate humans changing any time soon. I worry about us automatically jumping into an assumption of various privilege systems without considering other possibilities first. Often the simplest answer is the best. You (and every queer woman) are a part of this family, and I at least value you as equals.

    Note: I haven’t actually noticed people ignoring each other in the center, but after your mention of it I’ll keep an eye out. I also don’t want it to seem as though I’m denying these privilege systems, I just don’t think they account for everything. I want to just clarify my support for the demolition of privilege and equal representation for women (and everyone).

    #4- Sorry it didn’t work out. Keep your chin up, yeah?

    #5- Amen. Trust me, you aren’t alone in the “I’mqueerbutterribleatpartieshowdoImeetpeoplewhyismyfootinmymouthGAHHHHHH” feeling. I wish I had an answer for how to get better at it, but I haven’t so instead I thought I’d send a little camaraderie your way. You aren’t alone in this.

    I apologize for this comment. I probably should have just made this a post. Again, props to all of you.

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  6. #3: "We've been going to your events for years (read: BDU, Vespa, virtually any and every gay bar, etc.), and we never once told you that it was "so gay". Instead, we quietly tried to cultivate our own women's community and hoped maybe one day we'd get a space half as many women as we consistently see at your events and your gay bars. When I walk into the LGBT Center, I notice that you talk to the gay men. But never to me."
    ^^^^This times a trillion, because it can be applied to all types of spaces--the Center, BDU events, gay clubs for the entire LGBT community/that aren't EXCLUSIVELY for women, and even virtual spaces like the blog (which has seen a major shift in the sex/gender of columnists this year). Thank you for putting that out there. Also, it is good to note and thank guys like Robert W. and Denzell (<3) and Kyle who have commented above. I would like to argue that this year is a huge improvement from last year. Last year I stopped going to the Center because no one would talk to me, even when I tried talking to them--men and women alike--and Kyle brings up a good point, sometimes (or maybe most times, unfortunately) people go to these spaces (the Center) with an agenda, and it's not to make "friends".

    #4: I'm sorry things didn't work out, but I also envy your courage to even share your feelings with the girl you like. That's something I've NEVER been able to do when it comes to people I have had feelings for. So, a trillion and two respect points for you.

    #5: I'm am completely relieved to be reminded that there are people out there who are like me when it comes to social events. I didn't go to the event at the Bar for the reasons you stated (and also because I spent the entirety of my Friday not doing work, like I should have lol). I find it troublesome that my close friends are gay men and straight women. Straight women who would worry about being mislabeled as gay if they attended with me, and gay men who would either A) not want to go because they have social anxieties worse than mine/just don't like the LGBT scene or B) would hang with me for about 10 mins before moving on to other, better things (which, to them, is men)--but really, it's not their responsibility to make me feel comfortable when we go out.

    As for the WLW group that went to the Bar together, I was really happy they offered that option, because I'm sure that was a shining beacon of hope for some. But for me, I wasn't too comfortable with it for various reasons.

    Regardless, you're not alone. I know I don't perform at my best in settings like gay bars (from experience and just from knowing the type of person I am) and I think it's really important that people can get to that point of knowing so they don't end up having frustrating experiences like yours (and in a repetitive way that can just ruin venues like such for them, forever). I really do think having a lady friend who'll be your wing(wo)man would help if you want to continue trying gay bars. If not, it'll be difficult for you to become comfortable in spaces as such.

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  7. @#2: A friend of mine posted the link to the Gershom article on Facebook, and I wrote a long, winding, long-winded response that required me to sift through a lot of thoughts that have been otherwise sealed away in amber for about a decade. I am copying it below because I think it represents another side of the dialogue, though still (technically) coming from inside the Catholic community:

    Let me start by saying that I am gay and that I grew up in a relatively devout Catholic household. Unlike the author and cited post in the article, I'm not claiming to speak on behalf of anyone other than myself. I think any sort of over-extrapolation of one person's story as evidence that the whole gay population, or even worse the whole LGBT community, feels a certain way is one of the most fallacious ways to make an argument. If Steve hasn't felt persecuted by his family or by his church, that's great. It really is. But not everyone feels or has felt that way. So I think at a most fundamental level that it is problematic to use one person's story as evidence that the Church is great to its gay members. I feel similarly about Steve's celibacy. He wants to be celibate? Great. Good for him. If it is his choice, then no one should criticize it. But, again, to argue that that should be a standard by which all LGBT people live simply because one innate part of them is divergent from norms, is equally problematic. I'm not trying to discount Steve's personal story, because it can be informative of one person's experience with the Church, but to even pretend that it represents anything more than that is just wrong.

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  8. #1, I can relate to the sentiment that "I wouldn't want to come out as questioning or come out at all unless I was sure." I was in that place for a long, long time. As someone who is still questioning and exploring, I can't tell you if you ever figure out exactly how you feel. But, as a proponent of the Kinsey Scale, I find myself in Kyle's camp, believing that most people are probably some level of bisexual (ironically, I've found this to not be so well received in the lesbian and gay parts of the LGBTQ community). That aside, I can tell you that despite the fact I was really set on not telling anyone until I was absolutely certain that I even had something to share, talking with others has been the single most important thing I've done to come to terms with my not knowing, my exploring, and the nuances of my sexuality. Not to mention, there is a part of publicly questioning that I've actually found quite liberating and fun(blog plug). I'm not sure if this is helpful for you at all, but thanks for writing in--we don't hear enough from people who are questioning, and for me, that made the process that much harder. If you want to talk more, feel free to find me on facebook or to email me.

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  9. #2, As someone who is not particularly devout, I struggle internally to reconcile myself with the defense that needless hardship and suffering can be justified through religious doctrine. I currently reside in an area of the world where polygamy, uncommon, and romantic affairs, more common, are religiously legitimized for men. These men's wives are not immune to the emotional backlash of betrayal, but when I ask how they can condone such actions in the face of so much pain they respond with an argument akin to yours: God gives us many challenges in life, and it is by overcoming them that we achieve spiritual enlightenment.

    Ignoring the normal series of philosophical arguments surrounding religious affiliation (arbitrary assignment, textual ambiguity, blind selection), it seems to me that the core of many religions is their stake in a compassionate and empathetic God. In this context, requiring a believer to become complacent to secular suffering derived from natural human emotions more often than not strikes me as wrong and misplaced, especially when such suffering is likely neither selfishly or selflessly utilitarian. I tell my child not to eat unhealthy snacks even though they are delicious because in the future their health will greatly impact their quality of life. I tell my child not to kill another person even though this may assuage their anger because a world in which people heedlessly kill others would be a world full of pain. But how can I justify telling my child to give up hope for romantic fulfillment simply because they love others of the same sex and a variably interpreted book says that this is wrong? The only justification I can fathom is contextual: do not be openly gay because to do so would bring you more pain in a discriminatory society than not being openly gay (just as you ought to withhold swearing in polite company not because doing so is 'good' in an absolute sense but because it is 'good' in a contextual sense). I would suggest that this sentiment often, though far from always, does not apply to a modern and evolving American context.

    Thus I have trouble with the author equating their religion's mandate to withhold from same sex romantic relationships to a parent telling their child not to eat sand. To me, the argument seems superficial at best and fails to think critically about ethics in a modern context. I would advance the notion that instead of becoming so hung up on the 'do's and 'do not's haphazardly thrown together in an ethics manual for the men and women of 0 AD, one ought to identify the values of their religion and attempt to discover how these values translate in their unique and unforeseen environment. Does loving another member of the same sex violate these values, confirm them, or exist outside of them all together? (And, as a prodding tangent, do I feel these values align with what I deeply believe to be wrong and right as informed by empathy and reason?)

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