April 26, 2011

Sorry I'm Not Sorry


I’m different. In the most superficial ways, but also in deep ones. Despite being at Duke for two years I’ve never been to Shooters. I’ve never blacked out from drinking and have no incriminating pictures on Facebook. I don’t own one item of Duke clothing. I didn’t go to the convocation during orientation week and thus did not sign the sheet binding me to the honor code. I seriously thought about skipping the class of 2013 picture. I didn’t care about being able to spot myself in the blown up print. When I confided my plan to the black-clad video game nerd from Idaho in my FAC group, he said "You really enjoy being different" without a speck of judgment.

My rugged independence and determination are great qualities. I never understood the big fuss over peer pressure. (And my friends in high school "pressured" me to try cocaine, meth and heroin.) I came out early and often. To quote Mean Girls, I’m a “floater.” But I know my difference can lead to a defeatist attitude, laziness and loneliness. I don’t feel in my element in a group of white people, a group of gay people or a group of upper middle class people. I actually feel most uncomfortable in groups whose composition is upper middle class and white, even if a quick glance at my government forms would indicate that is what I am. I’m most comfortable in groups so diverse they're practically walking advertisements for the Center for Race Relations. I pat myself on the back for fighting self-segregation, but I know I am staying within my comfort zone, much like the members of minority and majority groups that are accused of this heinous crime. I'm comfortable with people who are also different, not people who assume incorrectly that the color of my skin means my background is similar to theirs.

Acknowledging the irreconcilable differences I have with the majority of the Duke population- my sexuality, my cultural mixdness, my “hardcore” middle and high school experiences, my insistence on a social life that doesn’t require a large disposable income- has made my Duke experience much more enjoyable. I’m hesitant to say I love Duke because of the social ills I’m confronted with everyday. I don’t feel an affinity with every Duke student. I definitely wouldn’t want to be here all year round. At Duke, school spirit is such an all-consuming ideology that it’s easy to forgot that at other colleges (for example, Carnegie Mellon and Brown) my level of zealotry would be normal. I understand that people can love Duke and acknowledge its social ills. I can see myself living in San Francisco after graduation even though it has serious issues with housing affordability and homelessness. The difference is that right now Duke’s flaws affect me personally and San Francisco's don't. Do I have to love Duke to love being here? No. That meta-level love, while encouraged by pep rallies and O-week events, is unnecessary.

I’m no longer in an ill-defined league of my own, where I congratulated myself simply for being myself. I see other Dukesters with similar goals and serious strengths over me. I have a supportive network of friends, a secure study spot in Perkins and an awesome summer in San Francisco lined up. I have no doubt that Duke is facilitating the life I want. I dance with queer ladies at the Pinhook and Vespa, tell it like it is at Women Loving Women, drink Paris tea at the Coffeehouse, smell the night air in the picturesque gardens, go to parties every weekend, see world-renowned performances for $5, participate in the ELI program at the Public Policy school, hop on the Robertson, and talk with people Singapore one minute and people from the rural South the next. I feel like it’s finally time for my difference to become a selling point, not a hindrance. Sorry I’m not sorry for my disinterest in Shooters, investment banking, grade-grubbing, sports, classic rock, Duke hoodies, celebrity gossip, going to the beach and television shows. Sorry I’m not sorry for my inability to dance like a white girl, my habit of dissapearing and getting lost, my encyclopedic knowledge of sex, my penchant for studying alone, my laid-back attitude and my outlandish ideas. It's easy to be sorry when you’re struggling to come alive, to find your place, to have audacious goals and good grades. But now I’m no longer struggling and I’m definitely not sorry.

Have a great summer everyone! If you're going to be in San Francisco during June and July, hit me up. Also, is it just me or is San Fran the queer femme capital of the world?

April 25, 2011

Anonymous Posts (4.18.11-4.4.24.11)


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. :)

IT'S LWOC!!!!!
I personally could not be more excited. Really, classes? Yeah, I've had enough of you. SummeRisa (she's her own person, you know) is so ready to come out and play...So, say say oh playmate, come out and play with me? Hit me up if you want to try the hand clapping version .

Friday was lav grad, which made me sad sad (I'm apparently in a rhyming mood right now) because the class of 2011 is really terrific. But, in case you missed it (don't let it happen again), BDU Blog has got your back.

Speaking of really terrific 2011ers...the BDU Blog is going to be running a series on y'all from now until the end of summer. Email or facebook me (Risa) if you are interested in writing a post in which you reflect upon your experiences or anything else you want! It can be as long or short as you'd like and you can choose how your name will appear, so don't fret about coming out to the internet if that isn't your cup of ginger and peach tea.

The Women As Leaders class has really taken campus by storm these past few years, spearheading Women's Housing Option and Develle Dish. They're now working towards decreasing sexual assault on campus by mandating minimum bystander intervention training to all incoming first years (Hi 2015 readers!). Consider signing their petition here 'cause sexual assault is bad and you know it.

In the words of Porky the Pig, Th-Th-Th-Th-Th-...That's all, folks!

Anonymous posts, below!

#1
Can we have an honest discussion about this? What Quinn Matney did was unequivocally wrong, and made us all look like attention seeking fools by association. The fact that this forum even HAPPENED after Matney was discovered to have self-inflicted his wounds is an absolute JOKE. Sure, maybe Quinn felt the need to hide the fact that he hurt himself, but did he have to come out and say "Someone attacked me and branded me because I am gay"? Absolutely not. He could have easily said it was an accident. To quote a comment on the above article: "I think the LGBTQ community needs to take a step back and review their culture. This entire “bleeding-nose-looking-for-a-fist-mentality” is completely embarrassing to fellow gays like myself. Half the time the group looks childish and really alienates people." Right now, I am embarrassed to be gay. And I am angry that GBLSTA and BDU did anything besides flat out stating that what Quinn did was wrong, and that the community does not support him in the least bit. There are counselors and mental health professionals for people like Quinn, but our political representatives need to do what is right for the community as a whole. Thank you.


#2
Why is it that whenever I feel most upset, lost, alone, deflated or forgotten, I go to this website? I'm straight as a ruler but the accepting community aspect of BDU is what I love the most and crave from my other friends and "communities." Keep up the posts, the good work, and the love. God knows we all need it.



Please remember that there are a number of resources available on campus and in the local community. 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).

April 24, 2011

Lavender Graduation Wrap-Up

[Ed. Note: This year, we started to recap BDU and Center events with pictures and firsthand accounts. A friend of the blog who wishes to remain anonymous wrote the following about their experience at Friday's ceremony. And of course, congrats to the Class of 2011! We will miss you tremendously.]

Upon entering the center, I was greeted as I normally am by Janie and a number of frequent visitors and student workers at the Center. Immediately, I felt a sense of community and pride as I ventured into the multi-purpose room and chose my seat prior to the beginning of the ceremony. I had never attended a Lavender Graduation before so I had no idea what to expect. Based on my experience, I’m certain that I made the right decision to go this year. To see the family members and faculty that were in attendance was a testament to the all of the support and unity that the Center promotes. If never I had felt comfortable in the Center before, today was the day that I felt I truly belonged. As parting words and quotes were shared, certificates and rainbow tassels distributed, inspiring and encouraging words spoken, tears shed, and hugs given, there was an undeniable sense of love in the air. I was privileged to be in the room at that time and I am anxiously awaiting my senior celebration with the LGBTQ. As a first timer, it was truly an honor to share my experience with the class of 2011. There are many members of the senior class that have contributed to my undergraduate career here and I will miss their presence on campus dearly in the upcoming school year.

(Photo by Alex Daniel. Many thanks to him for letting us use it and to the anonymous author of this wrap-up for taking the time share their thoughts!)

One Year Later...

On April 27, 2010, I signed my name on the postcard to accept my admissions offer to Duke.

Now here I am, almost a year later, wrapping up my first year at the school of my dreams. I look back at that day, and I realize that a lot has happened since then. I take this post to reflect.

On May 9th, I took in a friend for the night who was kicked out of his house, with the predominant reason being that he is gay. I had always heard about these situations, but I never understood the severity until that moment. Having to ask my parents that night to let me bring him home, when I wasn't out to them, was odd, but they knew where my heart was. That night is still in my head, and I always think of my friend and the struggle he faces. I know I'm very fortunate with my family situation, and I can only hope that one day, he will be able to enjoy life being who he is, and not who his parents want him to be.

On May 15th, I started my first relationship. Needless to say, the three months that we had together were wonderful. Before we left for college, I wrote him a sappy love letter, being the big sap that I am, and I kept a copy for myself, just for memories. I pulled out the letter last week, and I realized that I am just a huge sucker, and I was just so happy to be with him. (I may or may not (may) have teared up while reading it)

On July 31st, I came out to my mom. If you read my earlier post, you know that her reaction involved laughter. She didn't make the process easy for me with her laughter at the lack of surprise of my statement. I remember the racing heart, sweaty palms, and stutter that I had as I uttered the simple words, "I'm gay." That night, I couldn't be home, after that event, so I went to my friend's house and just talked with him and my boyfriend so they could calm me down. That day will also always be in my head forever.

On August 24th, I moved in to Duke. That was perhaps the happiest and most nerve-wracking day ever. I was constantly affronted with lots of new people, and introverted me just couldn't handle meeting over 100+ people a day for O-week. But at the same time, I was so happy to meet people that shared interests with me, be it engineering, math, science (cause these are my only interests (I am in Pratt)), or guys. I didn't have too many gay guys at my high school, nor was there much of a dating community where I lived, so meeting other gay guys here at Duke was helpful and inspirational. I have learned about so many at-home experiences and I have made such wonderful friends through this community and the entire Duke community. To the class of 2015, if you are reading this, welcome, and be ready to make friends for a lifetime. I know I have in my time here, and will continue to make great friends for many years to come.

But even a year later, I reflect back, and I realize that I haven't changed a bit. I'm still good ol', extremely nerdy, optimistic, happy, and motivated Cameron. I have stuck to who I am since I have been here at Duke, and I plan to change for no one. A lot of things happened in this past year, and I had plenty of times where I could've put up a good front to please others or to make others like me, but instead, I stuck with me. Because of this, I have made wonderful friends and relationships with people who like and appreciate me, not someone who I am pretending to be. I may be gay, I may be a nerd, I may do math for fun, but I am an individual. And I am an individual who I can live with day to day. A quote from Oscar Wilde goes, "My great mistake, the fault for which I can't forgive myself, is that one day I ceased my obstinate pursuit of my own individuality." We are a community of individuals, all unique. No stereotype will ever define us all, no matter how hard people try to formulate such gross misrepresentations.

I encourage everyone, but especially to the incoming class of 2015, to remember what Mr. Wilde says, and remember that "You are you, truer than true," or so says Dr. Seuss.

April 20, 2011

True To Your Heart*

First, listen to this. It’s important to the rest of the post. Did you like it? Good! (If not, boo you. :P) I’m a very musical person. I express myself through music which is why my last post had a lot of music links dispersed throughout. I can more readily find a song that describes how I’m feeling better than I can describe it to you. It usually comes out something like “I feel like *grunt* *moan* *random hand gesture*. Know what I mean?”. There are times where I’m not sure how I’m feeling (Yeah, weird. I know. But my emotions are a very complex thing). So, I turn to music to give me a little insight into what’s really going on in my head. And that’s how this post came about.

I noticed that I had been listening to that song repeatedly for the past few days. I just generally hadn't been as happy as I normally am. I really wasn’t just enjoying life. I didn't notice it at the time but I was listening to the same emotional songs all the time. So, I sat myself down and had a long conversation with my inner me (You should try it. Not literally talking to yourself but some deep reflection). I went through all the usual problems: trying to fit in in this world, academics, single life, family issues, and finances. But none of those were particularly bothering me at that time. It seemed like everything was ok. So, I didn't know what the matter was. But then, I started talking to a friend of mine and he started telling me about all the numbers he got from guys at this bar. Then he started telling me about this hot guy he hooked up with and how he met a different guy the night before. I listened and laughed and whatnot, but on the inside, I was fuming. I ended up cutting the conversation short because I just couldn't take it anymore. When I realized how upset I was, I took a step back to think about why I was so angry. I realized that it wasn't anger, it was jealousy. Now, I've had my *ahem* fun nights but not to the extent that he was having and I was so insanely jealous. Why was he getting all the attention? Why can he drop a napkin and have 50 different guys fighting to be the one to pick it up for him? Why does he get to have his pick of any guy he wants to go with while I’m standing right there considering myself lucky if a guy looks at me? What can I change about myself? Am I doing something wrong?

That was it. I had a similar conversation with another friend of mine about a week before that. Since then, I had been listening to all of my emotional/ heartbreak/ depressing songs. I gave myself a metaphoric slap to the face. I couldn't believe I let myself get so upset because I’m not living the life it seems like so many other people live. I was jealous because I wasn't going home with a different guy every week. It bothered me that I didn't have a smorgasbord of men to choose from. But, I forgot something really important: that’s not me!

That’s not the life I want to live. That’s not the “me” I want to be. I don’t want to have this endless list of random names and numbers of guys that I met at a club but nothing more happens. If that’s how you are happy living your life, then great for you! Enjoy your life! But that’s not me and I had to remember that. I take pride in the fact that I don’t have many random hookups with guys. It helps me retain some sense of sex being a special thing. Don’t get me wrong, I have my moments of weakness, but sex is never the first thing on my mind when I’m going out. I want to go out with my friends and enjoy their company first. If there’s someone there that catches my eye, then we’ll see where things go.

There's nothing wrong with me. I'm perfect just the way I am. And you are, too! It's easy to get impatient when it seems like other people have a revolving door of partners coming in and out of their life, but don't lose hope. I lost that hope and myself in the process. I know that there have been a few times when I gave in to temptation and ended up spending the night with someone just to say that I did. I woke up hating myself for what I done. Not that it was bad or the guy wasn't a nice guy but it just wasn't what I'm ultimately looking for in my life. Call me a helpless romantic but I'd actually like to find someone to actually start a stable relationship with where sex isn't the focus of our interactions. Random hookups are physically satisfying but emotionally draining for me.

I’m here to tell you that it’s hard to keep focus on what you want from your life when there are so many people around you that are doing the exact opposite. At times, it will seem like everyone else is doing it so you should, too. But that’s not true at all. Stay true to your morals and your beliefs because, at the end of the day, you have to live with decisions you make. Others may tell you that you should be more like them and loosen up a bit. But don’t do anything you aren't ready for or that’s not you. You’d think this is a lesson I would've learned in elementary school, but I guess I’m a slow learner.

“Sometimes it’s hard to follow your heart… just be true to who you are” because “you’re [freakin’] perfect.”**

*Bonus points to anyone that can name the song, artist, and what movie this song was in.

**I didn't post the Pink video “F**kin’ Perfect” because I felt it’s a bit too inappropriate for the blog. But I did post the video of my favorite YouTube personality discussing the song so you can hear the lyrics and hopefully get a laugh or two in.

April 18, 2011

BDU Wins 2010 - 2011 Outstanding Established Student Organization Leadership and Service Award!


Hey everyone,

Quick piece of exciting news - Blue Devils United was honored tonight at the Duke University Leadership Awards. We won the 2010 - 2011 Outstanding Established Student Organization Leadership and Service Award!

Congratulations to everyone who's been involved with BDU this year: this is a fantastic recognition of your work and you should be very proud.

Anonymous Posts (4.11.11-4.17.11)

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. :)

Hey, folks! I'm currently in Philadelphia visiting with family and observing Passover (which starts tonight), and I just think city is awesome LOVE THIS CITY. #Pretzles&MustardCornedBeefOnRyeWaterIceAnyone!?

I was driving with my Bubby (yiddish for grandmother) and noticed that some street signs had rainbows under them. I asked her if she knew why, but she didn't; neither did her good friends. Some quick googling has taught me that in fact, I am 4 blocks from the "gayborhood."

Passover isn't just the story of Israelites' exodus from Egypt and the ten plagues, or whatever. At its heart, it's a story of personal and communal liberation. It is my sincere hope that in the year to come, all of us, Jews, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, atheists or agnostics or anything else, will make progress in breaking off our shackles from anything that is holding us back--as a community and as individual. Wishes for a חג פסח שמח and a happy Holy Week, if you do either of those things.

A plug for two campus publications that are just out, or about to be later this week, and might be of interest:
Thing 1) The fourth issue of Encompass, the student made magazine sponsored by the Kenan Institute for Ethics is now on stands. The Blog, our anonymous posts (THAT'S YOU!) and former blogger-in-chief Chris Perry got some coverage in Ryann Child's two-page spread about the internet, campus blogs, community and anonymity.
Thing 2) Unzipped, Duke's Journal of Gender and Sexuality will be on stands this week! There is a launch party open to the entire Duke community on Wednesday in Von Cannon C from 6-8pm. Facebook event here.

In case you didn't hear...last week, Kobe used the terrifying "f word"...and I don't mean that he came out as a feminist! The League fined him $100,000 (that's two years of a Duke education, but somehow I don't think it's big money to him). I just hope that the money went to the HRC or Trevor Project, or something affirming and working for the LGBTQ community...but I'm not holding my breath (if it's anything like what the WNBA does, it does go to charity, though). John Amaechi, a former NBA player who publically came out after his career (but wasn't totally in the closet toward the end of it) wrote a response, here.

Finally, thanks to everyone who made Friday's Day of Silence a success! The pictures were wonderful and the sayings were deeply moving.

And now, for our most famous anonymous posts!


#1
In high school I was 150 percent sure I was a lesbian I had a huge crush on my best friend (that didn't end well) and then I left for duke ready to find the perfect girl. This year I started crushin on this girl down the hall but she reminded me of my best friend so I know things prolly won't end well if I try to get with her. Lately I've been seeing this guy. He doesn't really turn me on but I like his personality. Well except he's wayyyy to sexual. So I guess now I'm basically confused. I like this guys personality but I like this girls personality too and she turns me on. I'm just really not sure if I'm. Gay or not. How do you tell the difference between a small girl crush and being a lesbian? I really didn't want to end my freshman year being so confused


#2
I'm starting to feel like maybe other females will just never find me attractive, or want to be with me, and I should just stick with males. It's hard to listen to the little voice inside when all you're getting back for it is rejection.


#3
wow powerful


#4
any tips for meeting gay guys in DC this summer?


#5
good read from one of the plaintiffs in the Supreme Court case striking down bans on interracial marriages

Please remember that there are a number of resources available on campus and in the local community. 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).

April 15, 2011

Today, I'm Silent for My Uncle Malcolm


I wasn’t able to get my picture taken for this year’s Day of Silence, which is unfortunate, because I’d already decided on what my poster would say this year: “Today, I’m silent for my Uncle Malcolm.”

I’m silent to honor the memory of my Uncle Malcolm, a memory which has largely been intentionally forgotten and almost erased from my family’s history.

When well-intentioned people criticize the Day of Silence as being unproductive, I think they are taking the “silence” thing too literally. As I wrote last year, today is not really a day of silence. More accurately, it is a day of not talking. For exactly this reason I write this blog post to protest the silence of my family.

My mom was the first one who told me that I had an uncle who’d been murdered for being gay. I was in middle school then and she told me everything she remembered ever overhearing about it, after all, the adults never spoke about it in front of her. Just about everything else I know, I know from my mom’s first cousin. There is a lot that my cousin still does not know, while other details deceive her memory. What remains is the story I’ll tell here.

Sometime before Stonewall (1969), my grandfather and his older brother traveled from Philadelphia to New York City, where they identified Malcolm’s body at the morgue. Days before, my Uncle Malcolm had been beaten and murdered by two teenaged guys. Malcolm loved to cook. He and the two people who killed him had met at a bar, before going back to his apartment so Malcolm could cook for them. What transpired after that, I don’t know, except that he was naked when they found his body and that he’d been beaten so badly that his body was barely recognizable.

By all accounts, Malcolm lived a bohemian kind of high life and sought to enjoy every day. He was a successful advertising executive (Mad Men, anyone?) and spent a few years living in Japan. He sometimes brought a girl, Cookie, to family functions; she was a lesbian. I’m also told that Malcolm was handsome, had “smiley eyes,” and didn’t like to be interrupted. Born as Malcolm Goldberg, he sought to honor his ancestors by legally changing his last name to “Gurbarg,” the name his mother brought to the states with her before it was changed at Ellis Island.

Unfortunately, while that may be all I ever know about him, it’s only half of the story. Malcolm led a double life for the 40 years that he lived. Before his murder, nobody in my family except Malcolm’s mother knew that he was gay.

The men who so tragically interrupted Malcolm’s life were convicted, though apparently no one from my family went to the trial (which really irks me).

Today, Malcolm, I honor and remember you. With my silence, nobody can interrupt me. And with this blog, your story will no longer go untold.

April 13, 2011

Healthy Confrontation


As my semester at Duke slowly comes to an end, I realize how much my routine reflects that of the average Duke student: I have worked hard (kind of), played hard (REAL hard) and have, more often than not, taken what Chronicle writer Ryan Brown describes as the “something bigger than ourselves” mentality.
My semester at Duke, unlike my previous semesters at UNC, has forced me to face many unfortunate realities. One of these realities is the palpable sense of destructive gender norms that exist in the world (and the notion that feminism is a bad thing); another is the existence of individuals who are, dare I say it, conservative!
[I am not saying destructive gender norms and conservatives do not exist at UNC; rather, I am saying that they exist behind a liberal curtain and (as recent weeks have demonstrated) a safe and inclusive university façade.]
At Duke, I have interacted with conservatives, with the “I’m not a feminist, but…” students, and with those that would fight till the end to maintain the existing gender culture at Duke. I have attended a handful of meetings at the Women’s Center and have had numerous conversations with individuals, both conservative and liberal and all in between, regarding feminism. Yet, like Brown, I prefer to push my headphones into my ear and pump up the volume rather than fighting complacency and, in turn, a destructive culture. I have these conversations, but then I go on with my business, thinking to myself, “Well, we talked and they still didn’t get what I had to say…oh, well!”

What I have loved most about Duke, however, is the opportunity to have interacted with those that align themselves on the opposite sides of an issue. What I love about my semester here is the fact that I think about these things and realize my “something bigger than ourselves” mentality. And most of all, I love that I have more opportunities to not be complacent; to continue to have conversations with people, but also take action—to attend events such as Be A Man [Thursday (April 14th) at 8:30pm in McClendon 5] and Fab Friday with these people who have different views than my own.

Confrontation is uncomfortable, but healthy confrontation can be life-changing. So I encourage myself and others to have conversations with individuals who normally wouldn’t agree with you on an issue (such as feminism), befriend these individuals and listen to their stories, and then bring them to some healthy confrontational events (such as Be A Man or Fab Friday). Whether they change their minds or not is not what is important; what is important is us not subscribing to the “bigger than ourselves” mentality and taking action AND making new friends.

If there is nothing else to bond over, you and your new friend can always bond over being Blue Devils, a community I am honored to be a part of during my college experience.

April 12, 2011

When You Give Your Gal Some Advil


I have a new gal in my life. Fun facts: She’s a senior Exercise Science major at UNC and plays on the club lacrosse team. She lives with a couple roommates in a Carrboro house and has her own car. We have the same taste in music. (If you're a romantic playlist voyeur, check out my Project Playlist profile.) We talk about anything and everything, especially our shared interest in food politics. Our distance is bridged by exciting text messages during Global Health class and Friday afternoon dinners at Chapel Hill Mexican restaurants. I have a willing companion if Childish Gambino ever decides to come to North Carolina and a dance partner when "My Chick Bad" comes on at Vespa. (As much as I like Lady Gaga and Katy Perry, I can’t give anyone a proper lap dance to their music.) Each Monday when I swipe dental damns from the Know Your Status table; I know they aren’t going to be used as bookmarks.

Unfortunately, this unfurling relationship is marred by one thing: a terrible toothache. (White girl problems? I think not.) Pain radiates through the left side of my mouth at all times. I wince when I smile at cute children. My painkiller of choice, chocolate, is double-edged. I must use real drugs, like Ibuprofen (eeek!) and Advil (yikes!) Eating regular meals is also difficult. I’ve been feeling lightheaded and weak, which is derailing my exercise routine. I just completed two hell weeks, and am gearing up for a possible third. The gulf between what I need to do to get A’s and what I can do is growing wider each day.

A Facebook status about bringing soup and meds to your baby seems like the perfect way to herald the "In a Relationship" life. (This new life requires a revamped Facebook strategy, starting with a new profile picture.) Cuteness is totally Facebook worthy. It is sure to generate a torrent of comments and likes, almost as much as the status about your awesome summer internship or DukeEngage acceptance. But posting cute statuses just isn't my style. I want my Facebook output to inform, educate and entertain, not make people gag. The 43 word synopsis: After scoping out my mouth (my student health appointment isn’t until next Friday) my gal decided Orajel was not a good idea. She hooked me up with Ibuprofen and fast-acting Advil Liqui-Gels. Both of us avoid painkillers, but this is an exception.

Caring for short term, minor health issues is like riding a bicycle with training wheels. When the training wheels come off my new gal could be an incompetent asshole. But all I can expect right now, in this amorphous situation-cum-proto-relationship is what I have received. Namely, an inspection and some pills. And as much as I think I can easily take care of myself, the times in high school when when I screamed and writhed on the carpet from cramps until my mom came home indicate otherwise. Now is the time to delegate, to say no, to give myself some time for mental rehabilitation so I can finish the semester strong. That my new gal supports me in this endeavor bodes well for the future of our relationship. The first hurdle has been cleared. On to the next one.

April 11, 2011

Anonymous Posts (4.4.11-4.10.11)


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. :)

I read this list of the top 15 out celebrities and was so excited to see that there were (basically) equal numbers of men and women. And then it came up that there were no people of color...which is just like, REALLY!? smh.

OMG DID YOU SEE LARAMIE THIS WEEKEND!?! This weekend was opening weekend for The Laramie Project. I went Saturday night and was so incredibly moved by the performance. For those of you who don't know, The Laramie Project sheds light on all different aspects of Matthew Shepard's murder. This coming weekend is the last chance to catch the show. Performances are Thursday the 14th, Friday the 15th, and Saturday the 16th, all at 7:30PM, and Sunday the 17th at 2:00PM. Student tickets are $5 and can be bought at the door. Help them sell out their final shows!!

ALSO, this Friday is the 15th Annual Day of Silence. Sponsored by the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network (GLSEN) DoS calls attention to the bullying and harassment of LGBTQ youth, whose voices are silenced everyday in our schools. [Fun Blue Devil Fact: Did you know that Duke alumna Madelaine Adelman is on the national board for GLSEN?] You can participate by pledging to be silent for all or part of the day and by wearing red. Be sure to have a card with an explanation prepared so that when someone asks you about it, you can explain without talking (tricky, tricky)! Blue Devils United will be tabling throughout the week and continuing our ever-famous poster campaign. Get your picture taken after Wednesday's BDU meeting (6pm, LGBT Center) and tell us what you're silent for!! This year, I'm silent for my Uncle Malcolm. Check back later this week for his story--a story my family is all too silent about.

Update: The last Blue Devils United meeting of the year is this Wednesday at 6pm in the LGBT Center. [We'll have a blog specific meeting sometime in the near future, so be on the look out.]

Lots of anonymous posts this week, yo! Good work!

#1
I'm thinking about how awesome fantasy books are! Especially for bookish chicks like me who somehow never noticed their feelings until they were suddenly in college...anyway, I wanted to give a shout out to authors like Megan Whalen Turner, Robin McKinley, and the sadly deceased Diana Wynne Jones. My inner life would have been so lonely without being able to read the strong, interesting, fleshed out, attractive and most importantly COURAGEOUS women characters. Those books and authors (like Spindle's End, The Queen of Attolia, Sunshine, Rose Daughter, Deep Secret, and Hexwood.) The girls aren't necessarily gay (although with some of them you can kind of read between the lines) but it's cool to have a fictional person you can fall in love with and get practice that way. It's a little bit of practice before the real thing. Anyway, that's what i wanted to say. =)

#2
This blog gives such a false impression of what the community is like. Criticism is also a way of bettering the community, you know - maybe you shouldn't automatically silence these voices.

#3
So I came to DUke almost 100 percent sure that I was a lesbian. Later in changed to asexual and now I'll be ending my freshman year having absolutely no idea. This isn't how I envisioned my first year of college. I thought I'd have things figured out and a gf or bf by now. Is this the next 3 years of my life here or will things change?

#4
First off, I don't go to Duke, but that doesn't make reading this blog any less great. I'm in the closet (very in the closet), and I don't have any intention of coming out in the near future. There are a lot of things hard to reconcile in this type of situation. I don't think I'll come out until I have a boyfriend, "I'm gay... this is my boyfriend." Otherwise, there is just a constant pressure to change lifestyles and other than being in the closet nothing about how I act or what I do will change when I come out. It is almost impossible to meet guys while in the closet except for over the internet, but I hate that. "This is my boyfriend... we met on craigslist." So if I don't want to come out until I'm with some one, and I can't find anyone while in the closet except on the internet, and I don't like entertaining the idea of having a significant relationship with someone I met over the internet, what am I to do? I play the waiting game.

#5
I'm finally in my first relationship with a man that I love, but I can't rid myself of a lingering crush. Whenever I see him I get confused again. Does this mean I shouldn't be with the guy I'm dating? Is it okay to have other crushes?

#6
I wanted to say check out the It Gets Better Video made by the American Institute of Bisexuality and posted at the link below by the Bisexual Resource Center. http://biresource.net/

Please remember that there are a number of resources available on campus and in the local community. 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). Don't be surprised if you see these resources listed in following weeks.

April 8, 2011

A BDU Exclusive | Leaked Thoughts From a Sailor: Repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell


[Ed. Note: I know we tend to limit posts to people within the Duke community, but I thought that our Community was so invested in the fight to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell that the perspective of an active Navy Sailor might be really interesting and pertinent. Below are a few thoughts that a friend of mine put together first after DADT's repeal and then again after beginning training to teach service members how to accept LGB people. He actually wrote to me personally after reading the blog for a while (unbeknownst to me!). It was only then that I asked him if I could share what he'd written. He works with an out sailor in a very small team (which as you probably know was a focus of anti-repealers..."What if you're in a small team and someone is gay!? You couldn't work under those conditions!"). Please note that even though my friend is straight, he has to write anonymously because he is not permitted to discuss his views on the policy or his experiences.]
(Photo credit: Jeff Sheng; "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Project")


“Today we recall that unity, not uniformity, is our goal, that we need not fear differences among those united to defend our nation's freedoms and its dreams. Today we honor ALL brave men and women, including those who served so long without the honor they deserved. O Lord our God, and God of generations past, help us move forward, toward a nation a little more united, more indivisible, a union a bit more perfect, founded on a great deal more respect.” -Rabbi Arnold Resnicoff, Captain, U.S. Navy (ret.)

I am a straight Sailor in the U.S. Navy, stationed at a seagoing command. I work on a ship of 4,000 people in a department of over 300 people, but in a workcenter of only 5. In our small, yet efficient workcenter, is an openly gay Sailor. He came out to most of the department on his own about two and a half years ago, much to everyone's surprise, honestly. In those two and a half years, there has not been a single incident of hazing or blatant homophobia, and he has not been withheld from gaining responsibility or advancing in paygrade.

We just came back from deployment to the news that Don't Ask, Don't Tell has been repealed. The concept was brought up in our workcenter in an informal matter to a group of about ten to twelve people about six months ago. The most compelling comment came when one of the other straight Sailors quipped that the only people making a big deal about it are those who don't wear the uniform. And it's true. I am not necessarily in a position of combat, but I, like pretty much all of my shipmates, know that I don't care if the person working next to me is male or female, straight or gay, Christian, Jewish, or Muslim--all I care is that they work hard and do their job with superior effort. And I don't see how someone's sexual orientation affects that.

The core values of the Navy are Honor, Courage, and Commitment. The program in which I specifically work demands integrity to the extreme. I don't see how you can tell a Sailor that he must exemplify integrity, yet he must hide who he is from everyone else. I'm glad that enough of Congress has finally opened their eyes to this hypocrisy, and I know that they will not regret their decision.
---
Those words were my first reaction to the abolition of the “closeting policy”. In the months after the new policy was announced, we were told that it would not go into place until we were all properly trained on it. Trained? What, people are aliens or lepers because they are attracted to the same sex?

The training itself incensed me even more. Not a lot of people know too much or understand the extent of the new policy. It sounds like all the problems are solved--not so fast. Sure, anyone is allowed to serve openly in the military. But as far as benefits go? Fat chance. If you have a same-sex partner, he or she is just plain ignored. Your partner is not eligible to receive the same health benefits that straight spouses receive, nor are you able to receive a housing allowance for married couples. That’s only the beginning--every benefit that a married man and woman could receive are off-limits for gay couples, even if you are legally married. The legislative and executive branch are patting their own backs over this idea that everything is fixed now. Whether they realize it or not, they are not done.

The Defense of Marriage Act is the next hurdle. DOMA narrows the definition of marriage to a legal bond between a man and a woman only. Not only do our representatives believe they can regulate the most fundamental aspects of life, but they think they can outdo Merriam-Webster? Fortunately, there is a current movement to overturn this reprehensible law as well, though we as the people they represent need to put more pressure on the legislators to progress. Otherwise, what’s the point in letting people serve openly when the policy of legal discrimination still stands?

D.
Electronics Technician (Nuclear) First Class
United States Navy

April 6, 2011

Butterfly In A Hurricane

So, my last posts have been more along the let’s-talk-about-uncomfortable-issues line of topics. But, for this one, I wanted to bring it back to a more personal level. The only problem with that is that I don’t know where to begin. I’ve got so many thoughts and emotions swirling around, zipping back and forth between my head and my heart, dancing in my chest and on my sleeves that I can’t really describe any of it. I guess I’ll just start...

I feel alone. I feel like I’m lost in the world again, similar to the way I felt throughout high school and early college. I believe Katy Perry was talking to me when she asked if I ever felt like a plastic bag drifting in the wind. Back in high school, I wasn't like everybody else (even beyond being gay). Somehow, everyone just became absolute best friends and we’re hanging out with each other all the time. They always made plans for the summer and birthdays. I, who was right there at the table while they were making these plans, was never invited. For fear of not having anyone else to sit with, I stuck with that group of “friends” for the rest of school. But, as soon as graduation came, it was goodbye and good luck. I wasn't really living those 4 years. I was floating through life just waiting for life to settle me in some place I could grow.

Well, it landed me here at Duke. As much as I could, I rooted myself to the ground and began the photosynthesis process of taking in all Duke has to offer and turning it into energy to grow into the mighty oak my mother says I am inside. It worked for a while. I began to find my way around life and began to develop into my full potential, but somewhere along the way, a storm came through and uprooted my not-too-deep roots. Once again, I was caught up in the whirlwind of life being tossed to and fro, torn inside out, thrown into the haze of confusion and despair, and flung into the darkness of depression. I lost sense of who I was and who I wanted to be. I didn’t know me. I didn’t know anything except that I wasn’t in Kansas anymore. The friends I once felt so close to moved on and we followed different paths, never destined to cross again. Others that I once walked side-by-side with now had paths that took them just out of arm’s reach, leaving me ever grasping for that closeness once again.

Every once in a while, the storm will die down just long enough for me to catch my breath and gather what little identity, security, peace, joy, happiness I could find. But as soon as I had a shred of each in my hand, the storm would pick up once again, ripping me from my little bastion of safety. I’m in that hurricane once again. I don’t know where I belong. Do I belong with the gays, the greeks, or the blacks? I don’t know where I’m going. Do I go to Fab Friday, Shooters, or a probate? I’m just trying to survive this thing called life. I’m trying to navigate these highways that everybody else seems to be speeding by on while I’m driving in the right lane going 5 mph under the speed limit.

I don’t feel like I belong anywhere. And I think people know that. They can sense how uncomfortable I am in these spaces where I don’t feel completely comfortable/ accepted/ welcome. That’s what this whole thing boils down to. I’m not totally comfortable anywhere anymore. It’s like I missed the memo about what to wear or when there was an open invitation and I showed up wearing the wrong color or on the wrong day.

I feel like it’s too late now. I mean, I’m a junior. At this point, I feel like everybody’s got everything figured out or, at least, some sense of something. They either know where they belong/ who they belong with/ or are totally happy being alone. I’m not either one of those and, with groups already stabilized, I don’t feel like I can/ want to use the energy trying to break into one. I’m stuck in this limbo where I just don’t know what to do. Nothing seems constant in my life. Everything and everyone is always changing and I don’t know how to manage it all. People come and go. The only thing constant is change.

April 5, 2011

Runaway Love


[This is probably far more personally soothing than it is helpful to anyone else…#selfishpost…Forgive me]

My biggest fear about coming out to my family is rejection. I’m afraid that my sexuality will cause a dent in my mother and grandparents’ proclamation of unconditional love towards me. Lately, I’ve been reevaluating this apprehension in an attempt to find some glimmer of hope that I’ve missed over the last 10 years or so. Unfortunately, the only thing that comes to mind is my Aunt Donna. My Aunt Donna is my mother’s older and only sister. Apparently she was a wonderful artist and she had beautiful copper skin with auburn colored hair. I’ve never met my aunt because she either disappeared or committed suicide (no body was ever found at the location of her car accident).

When I was 8, I finally found the courage to ask my mom why I never met my aunt. I guess for my age, she thought it appropriate to just leave it at, “My sister disappeared because she didn’t think Grandma and Grandpa loved her.” Back then I used to carry a picture of my aunt around in my backpack hoping I would randomly bump into her on the street and could use the photo as proof that we were related. I really wanted to know her. I can recall sneaking up to my grandparents’ attic to play with her old clothes, jewelry, and art tools. I vividly remember saying nightly prayers with my mom and asking God if I could meet her. In my youth I didn’t understand why this would make my mama cry.

Finally, when I was around 14 my mom filled me in on all the details that 8-year-old-me probably couldn’t understand. My mom suspected that my aunt disappeared or committed suicide because she was gay and my grandparents didn’t approve. That information didn’t sting me, nor did it cause me as much discomfort and sickness, than as it does now. I don’t know whether it has to do with the fact that I’ll be leaving Duke’s bubble soon and I’ve never been “out” in the real world thus I’m nervous, or what. What I do know is that as of recently, when I’m going to bed, I see that picture I used to carry around of her everywhere I went. What I do know is that I’ve been crying myself to sleep for my aunt and for myself for weeks now. What I do know is that I feel crazy for missing a woman I’ve never even met but feel so extremely connected to. What I do know…is that I’m back to that 8-year-old child who is praying to just meet her aunt.

Perhaps I feel so connected to my aunt because I understand the feeling of just wanting to disappear instead of facing the “what-ifs” and repercussions of telling my mother and grandparents that I’m bisexual. When I’m crying myself to sleep, I feel as though I’m crying for her too because I believe that I can perfectly understand the fear she must have felt. I’m scared of following in her footsteps; living a life separated from my family because of my sexuality. However, I’m even more terrified of losing their love.

Below is a letter to my aunt, Donna Marie Dowdy. I’m not sure if she’s alive or otherwise, I just wish, hope, and pray that one day I’ll be able to say these things to her in person.

“Dear Aunt Donna,

My mama and Grandma Betty have always told me I have hands like you and that we have the same shaped eyes. I remember asking about you all the time or wanting to call Grandma Betty and Grandpa Pete on your birthday to see if you finally came home. I’ve always just wanted to know you; to put my hand in yours and compare them; to ask you to teach me to paint. I just want to look into those eyes that supposedly look like mine. When I was younger I was obsessed with you, but I never realized we would have so much in common.

At some point I stopped praying for you. I took your picture out of my backpack, I stopped asking questions, and realized that God wasn’t going to deliver that prayer—or maybe that my prayers just don’t get answered. Either way, at some point I gave up on you. I told myself you were gone and you weren’t coming back for me.

Well, now I’m praying for you again. I need you Aunt Donna. I need you to hold my hand in yours and for us to do this together. Because I love you unconditionally…and I don’t even know you. Because I’ll feel stronger if I have you to support me and I hope that you’ll feel the same about me. Because I need you to tell me that running away was a mistake. I need you in my corner and I promise to always be in yours.

Please come home.

—Your niece”

April 1, 2011

A Note on Anonymous Posts

Since this blog’s inception, anonymous posts have been the single constant. We know that there are countless students who do not read the blog daily but look forward to every Monday’s post. Even for those of us who do read the blog daily, we love when Mondays come around because of anonymous posts. As a blog staff, we value anonymous posts tremendously. Aside from the fact that several of us have written in anonymously before, we love the discussion in the comment section that they generate and the way that they give readers a chance to contribute, even if they can’t or don’t want to be an identifiable regular writer. That said, please understand that the purpose of this blog is to build community. From the beginning, the only things we said we ever wouldn’t post were things that violated our community standard of respect, like hate speech and personal attacks. Additionally, we will not post submissions that communicate or convey that the person submitting the post is expressing or insinuating suicide, another form of self harm, harm to others. We are very concerned for the well-being of the entire community, and our decision to not post such entries should not be interpreted as a rejection or as that we are ignoring you. Quite the contrary. We will take steps to identify any person whose submission suggests harm to self or somebody else in order to reach out and offer help. There are a number of resources available on campus and in the local community, and if you or a friend are experiencing thoughts or urges to harm yourself or somebody else, please reach out to the resources below:

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).

Anonymous Posts (3.28.11-4.3.11)

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 further 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. :)

First things first: WHO SAW LAST NIGHT'S WOMEN'S BASKETBALL FINAL FOUR GAMES!?! The end of Stanford-Texas A&M!?! And then UConn goes down?! Danggg. (Shout out to Chris Purcell for having a game thread going on his facebook!)

And, uh, CALLIE TORES AND ARIZONA ROBINS ARE GETTING MARRIED (on Grey’s Anatomy)!!

Other exciting news from the Duke world of gay: the last LGBTQ and Ally Discussion group is TOMORROW NIGHT in the LGBT Center at 6:30. We’re going to be talking about fitting in at Duke (and in life), so please bring your varied experiences and perspectives. Perhaps take a few minutes to reflect on Janie’s post from earlier this week and the comments left there.

THE LARAMIE PROJECT OPENS THIS WEEK, too! Performances this weekend Thursday the 7th, Friday the 8th, Saturday the 9th, all at 7:30pm, and Sunday afternoon at 2pm. Shows continue next weekend. Sheafer Theater in the Bryan Center and tickets are $5.

Also, confession: I'm a big PostSecret fan. I read them every week and anxiously await Sunday just as I used to anxiously await anonymous posts every Monday (now that I'm editor, I don't really have to anxiously await for them). Sometimes I think of this as our community's own PostSecret forum (maybe we'll find a way to let people get more creative on here, if they want?). But I digress. With each post, PostSecret provides resources for individuals who are suicidal. As I take over as blogger-in-chief, I want to remind everyone that it is vitally important that we remember to look out for ourselves and for each other.

Since this blog’s inception, anonymous posts have been the single constant. We know that there are countless students who do not read the blog daily but look forward to every Monday’s post. Even for those of us who do read the blog daily, we love when Mondays come around because of anonymous posts. As a blog staff, we value anonymous posts tremendously. Aside from the fact that several of us have written in anonymously before, we love the discussion in the comment section that they generate and the way that they give readers a chance to contribute, even if they can’t or don’t want to be an identifiable regular writer. That said, please understand that the purpose of this blog is to build community. From the beginning, the only things we said we ever wouldn’t post were things that violated our community standard of respect, like hate speech and personal attacks. Additionally, we will not post submissions that communicate or convey that the person submitting the post is expressing or insinuating suicide, another form of self harm, harm to others. We are very concerned for the well-being of the entire community, and our decision to not post such entries should not be interpreted as a rejection or as that we are ignoring you. Quite the contrary. We will take steps to identify any person whose submission suggests harm to self or somebody else in order to reach out and offer help. There are a number of resources available on campus and in the local community, and if you or a friend are experiencing thoughts or urges to harm yourself or somebody else, please reach out to the resources below:

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). Don't be surprised if you see these resources listed in following weeks.

Now, for this week’s anonymous posts!

#1


Lupe Fiasco gave a shout out to Gay Rights activists at his concert on Thursday. In that moment, however brief, I felt alive with acceptance. Usually, hip-hop/rap artists' songs are littered with homophobic remarks and hate speech. I have yet to come across a single lyric of his that has even the slightest hint of that.

#2


This community makes me want to hide who I am. I fear I will lie to the LGBT community about who I really am for my remaining years here at Duke just to be accepted. I feel so pathetic and like I'm betraying myself, but really I'm just trying to survive amongst you all [Editor's note: Please consider coming to tomorrow night's discussion group. We're going to be talking about this issue and would really like to hear your story.]