July 27, 2011

WOMYN Wednesday!


Hey, everyone! So, you might have noticed that there was no WOMYN Wednesday post last week. The reason is that I was at home, in Atlanta. I took the GRE last Tuesday, because I am a super-nerd and want to go to grad school as soon as I finish college. And then I fled Durham on Wednesday at 5:00 AM to make the 6ish-hour drive home. Once there, I had to curtail all activities involving rainbows, glitter, unicorns, and civil rights activism (in no particular order). Now, however, I’m back in Durham, and I have another survey for you!

What do you want to do after college? (Click on the question to take the survey.)

The questions in the survey have been on my mind quite a bit lately, since this year I’m a senior. Soon, I will be leaving the wonderful world of Duke, although I will probably end up in a place that also requires spending inordinate amounts of time in the library. (That’s actually my ideal situation, by the way: I was born to embrace the nerdy side of life.) So, I already know what I want to do with my life, and I think it would be really interesting to hear from y’all. The real world – which I plan to stay out of, for the most part – is a much different place, and there are many of us who will live and struggle in it once we leave Duke. A lot of us are fairly involved with the LGBTQ community here, but Duke, for all of its faults when it comes to providing a safe environment for us, is a very closed, rarified, even, dare I say, liberal community compared to many parts of the US and the world. Suddenly, being LGBTQ or an Ally may become more difficult or dangerous for some of us. So, please take this survey – it’s not all serious, but I hope it at least makes you think a bit!

P.S. Once you’ve finished taking the survey, please send your submissions to womynatduke@gmail.com! The inbox is so empty that when I shout at my computer screen, there’s an echo. You can submit artwork, comics, essays, poems, photographs – anything, as long as it’s your work and it has a queer women’s focus. If you want to submit something but are struggling with ideas, feel free to ask any of the editors, and be sure to check out WOMYN’s first issue. WOMYN is super-important, y’all – by its very existence it changes campus, but it can’t do that without a community effort. So please, submit – you have until September 16!

July 25, 2011

Anonymous Posts (7.19.11-7.24.11)


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 http://www.blogger.com/img/blank.giffriend find yourself in that position. With those exceptions aside, please feel free to submit your thoughts and questions. :)
http://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gif

Howdy, folks. I hope it's been a good week for everyone. Not many updates from Sedalia, Colorado except that I'm heading out on a five day service project/trail blazing excursion later today!

Openly lesbian WNBA player Sheryl Swoopes was named one of the WNBA's top 15 players of all time (in honor of the league's 15th season).

I also just found out that one of my friends on staff here is friends with the sister (and daughter) of two of the characters on the L Word.

Finally, we unfortunately don't have any anonymous posts this week. Tune in next week for a more exciting installation.

Please remember that there are a number of resources available on campus and in the local community. These resources are available over summer, too! 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).

July 18, 2011

Anonymous Posts (7.12.11-7.18.11)


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 http://www.blogger.com/img/blank.giffriend find yourself in that position. With those exceptions aside, please feel free to submit your thoughts and questions. :)
http://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gif

So. I spent last week leading a four day rock climbing and camping excursion. All things considered (read: monsoon season), the trip was a success.

I also had a great conversation with a (lesbian identified) visiting scholar about queer co-parenting and her family's dynamics. She is raising her daughter with a gay male couple (one of them is the biological father and she is the biological mother).

Today's women's world cup final game conveniently coincided with my day off from camp, meaning that I spent my day in town watching the US-Japan game. What an unlucky result (the US lost in PKs after scoring the first goal and later taking the lead again in overtime). Megan Rapinoe, a national team member who is publicly out of the closet (and who I met in 2009!), tallied an assist.

Now, for other important updates from readers like you!

#1
Hi! So I just wanted to write in this week and say that while I have been happily out and open about my queer sexuality for a long time at Duke, I am just now starting to date a lot of different people who I´ve met. The catch? I'm spending this summer in a HUGE CITY in the U.S., and I have met so many queer individuals that I actually can't keep track of all these amazing people that I'm meeting. So this is just a gay PSA - take it from someone who has never been lucky enough to truly date at Duke, that there's no reason to get down on yourself if you can't find your husband or wife in Durham right now. Because as life goes on you'll have more control over your location and you'll hopefully be able to head out to larger cities-and finding larger LGBTQ communities in the area, and the beginning of a concept of "dating" that some of us never get to know at Duke (gay or straight).

#2
From the modern, LGBT Dr. Seuss: You should not Grindr on a bus, You should not Grindr on a Gus. You should not Grindr here nor there, You should not Grindr anywhere.

Please remember that there are a number of resources available on campus and in the local community. These resources are available over summer, too! 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).

July 13, 2011

The Exceedingly Enthralling Adventures of Jennifer: Part the First


This post is going to be a little bit different from previous Wednesday posts. I said in my very first post that I would be sharing some of my story with you in addition to putting up the WOMYN Wednesday polls. (You should totally take them and share them with your friends, by the way!)

I thought I would tell you one of my coming-out stories. As I’m sure you know, coming out can be a huge and drawn-out process, as well as an uncomfortable or frightening experience. This particular coming-out experience happened at the beginning of last Fall.

I live in the Wellness Community, in Crowell G. For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, we’re a substance-free community that focuses on mindful, healthy living. It’s a great mix of people of all faith traditions, backgrounds, majors, personality types, etc. As part of an effort to build a stronger sense of community, our RC, Laura Kirkland, had decided that we would all go on a mandatory, day-long retreat to Camp New Hope. I was very nervous about it for many reasons: I’m pretty shy, so large groups of people make me nervous, and I generally dislike team-building exercises; I was overloading in a big way that semester, so I already had a ton of work to do; and I had just begun coming to terms with my sexuality, but I wasn’t really out to many people.

Despite my fears, the retreat began well. Laura had some ice-breakers that were new to me, and very fun, and there was food, which is never a bad thing. The more time I spent with the other members of Wellness, the more I realized that we had a lot in common. Of course, it helped that everyone was very nice. The difficult part was soon to come, though.

One of the Wellness requirements is that you have a SMART Goal - that is, a Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely goal. For a lot of people, the SMART Goal had to do with one of the more obvious/traditional parts of “living well” – sleep, nutrition, or exercise. But mine was different – I wanted to be more out and visible on campus by the end of the year. Here’s the rub: we had to write our goals down and give them to Laura, and then we had to discuss them with the other Wellness members. “Oh, what a perfect opportunity to start achieving your goal, Jennifer!” you might exclaim. Well, yes and no. It definitely would have given me a jump start. But, you see, I wasn’t ready yet – I had only just met some of these people, and I didn’t know their views about LGBTQ people/issues. Furthermore, I didn’t really want to be “that queer girl” – I am so much more than my sexuality. So, I compromised – I wrote down my real goal, but I made up a fake one to tell the other Wellness members. However, at that moment I decided that I had to tell my roommate as soon as possible.

When we returned from the retreat, I asked my RA for a Roommate Agreement Form – the one that you can use to inform your roommate about your sleep and study habits, as well as to make some of the other compromises that come with sharing a room (such a cunning plan for setting the stage, I know). My roommate, K, and I went over that form together – we had pretty similar habits, so that wouldn’t be a source of conflict. We came to the last question, which was a prompt for either of us to voice any concerns or information not covered in the questionnaire. At that point, I came out to her and then said something like, “I hope this doesn’t make you uncomfortable, but if it does, there’s still time to make a roommate change.” I was so nervous, y’all; K was really nice and seemed like she would be a great roommate, but we didn’t really know each other. You know what her response was when I told her that I was queer? “Oh, I kind of figured.” And that was it! Well, not really – throughout the year, I realized that she was a) such a good Ally, and b) totally willing to discuss LGBTQ/feminist/civil rights issues with me. Awesome, right? I couldn’t ask for a better roommate, or a better friend! Her fabulous response and support encouraged me to work towards achieving my SMART Goal, and that coming-out experience was the first of many. They haven't really gotten easier, but I now know that there are so many people, from so many different groups on campus, who are supportive and wonderful.

(P.S. It would be awesome if you wanted to share some of your stories, either in the comments or as submissions to WOMYN. The womynatduke@gmail.com Inbox is achingly empty - last year's submissions are desperate for some young, hip company! You know, WOMYN is kind of like Google+ : magazines need submissions like social networks need people. Otherwise, neither of them is very fun.)

July 11, 2011

Anonymous Posts (7.5.11-7.11.11)

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 peeps!

My second session kids arrived Wednesday and we've already talked about anti-gay bullying and slurs and why they're such an issue (because, DUH, everyone deserves respect and dignity and equal rights). Huzzah for awesome youngins and changing times!

I leave tomorrow for a four-day rock climbing (and back country camping) excursion that I'm co-leading.

That's pretty much the extent of my life right now.

Unfortunately, we don't have any anonymous posts this week. Keep writing in, readers! We need you!

In the mean time, I would recommend heading to your local 7/11 store to indulge in a free slurpee to help you cool off on this toasty July 11th.

Please remember that there are a number of resources available on campus and in the local community. These resources are available over summer, too! 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).

July 7, 2011

Mama's Boy

"I like Lady GaGa! Born This Way is my song!"- my mother as of 7/5/2011 at around 10:30 pm. She then proceeds to sing the chorus.

Something in me broke at that moment. A single tear rolled down my cheek as I chuckled into the phone.

"Why are you laughing at me?!"- she asks.
"Because that's something I never thought I'd hear you say...." I respond.

We went on to chat for another hour or so but her singing Born This Way just kept playing in my head. My mother, who still listens to old Motown and Christmas music (year-round), had not only heard of Lady GaGa but also loves one of her songs. And not just any song. I think it's a fair statement to say that it's the most LGBTQ- affirming song of our time and my mother, who goes to church every Sunday (and Wednesday) and once called me the son of Satan for being gay, was singing Born This Way to me over the phone. She didn't say much else about it except that she likes Lady GaGa more than Beyonce (Yeah, I made that same face you're probably making right now).

Back to the conversation. Now, we're talking about crime dramas and how she can't watch them because she always cries. She described one episode of a tv show where the criminal was a pedophile and creating child porn. After telling me how long she cried over that episode and has never watched the show again, she says "Now, as long as two consenting adults are having sex, it's fine by me. But not with children!".

She said "two consenting adults." She did NOT say "a man and a woman" like she has told me in the past. Another tear began to slowly stream down my face. I've become very observant of the things my mother says now and as I've mentioned in a similar post (here), she's been subtly using phrases or saying things that make me think she's slowly becoming more accepting of who I am.

On to part two of the conversation. At this point, I'm beginning to tell her that I don't want to go to graduate school in psychology. Instead, I want to go directly into working for an advertising company or something related. I explained to her that the thought of doing 2 years of research to get a graduate degree did not sound appealing to me and that I would probably hate my life. I told her how certain classes I took last semester opened my eyes to the world of advertising. For the first time in a very long time, I actually had a thirst to learn again. I wanted to learn more about the tricks of advertising and everything that goes with it. She initially met me with strong opposition. "But you could become a teacher. You'd make a great teacher! Or you could do therapy. You have this ability to see people for who they are and you can help people in need. Doesn't that sound exciting to you?", she rattled off as soon as I stopped talking. Long story short, we went back and forth for a while before this...

"I just want you to be happy. I want you to build that house you've always dreamed of. I want you to have the nice car you've always wanted. I want my son to be happy. No matter how that happens."

At this point, I began to fully breakdown. Thankfully, she decided to go to bed so I hung up the phone and let the flood gates open. I usually dread to see that my mom is calling me. I've been avoiding talking to her for the past few weeks actually. But by the end of the conversation, I felt like the worst son ever and also the luckiest. She hasn't directly said that she supports me as her gay son, but, part of me feels like she doesn't have to. I know what she means. Every time that I talk to her, I can her it in the "I love you baby" at the end of every conversation. I can sense the pain and longing for her only child in each "How are you doing?". It stabs me in the heart with every "I miss you."

So no, she hasn't said "AJ, I support you for being gay", but, I know in her heart that she does. And that was evident to me tonight. Would I like for her to say it? Hellz yeah! It would lift a great burden off my shoulder. But I know that her saying that could be just as hard as it was for me to first say "I'm gay" to her. So, I won't push. I know that she'll say it when she's ready. Her saying that would be going against everything she was raised on and believes in. It would be cracking her entire faith system, the thing she believes in, loves by, and lives by. So when she's ready, so am I.

I guess that last thing that really hit me after that conversation was this: I'll always be a mama's boy.

I love you Mommy!

July 6, 2011

WOMYN Wednesday!




Happy Wednesday, everyone! So, WOMYN Wednesday was on a slightly unexpected hiatus last week, but it's back with an extremely serious question for you:


What is your favorite queer hangout in Durham?

As you should know by now, Durham is pretty queer, and it’s awesome. It took me a long time to realize just how awesome, because I am super-nerdy and am usually in the library or in my room, studying. I’m also not good at bars or clubs, because I don’t drink much, and I cannot dance to save my life (ask anyone). Fortunately for me, there are other options when I want to be surrounded by queer people. (Note: I’m using "queer" as a kind of catch-all term, because I don't want to leave anyone in the LGBTQA community out of this discussion.)


So, WOMYN wants to know just where you like to spend your weekends/weekdays/spare time/life. Filling out this very short survey is practically a public service, y’all – just think about those of us who are still in the dark about Durham. You can dispel that darkness, right here, right now!

And, after you’ve taken the survey, please send your submissions to WOMYN at womynatduke@gmail.com! Your perspectives are both welcome and necessary, because without you as part of the WOMYN team, this magazine would not be the amazing publication that it is and can continue to be!

An Unsent Poem

[Editor’s Note: Congratulations to the Class of 2011! The BDU Blog has invited all Duke 2011 graduates to write and share Senior Posts, which we will publish over the course of the summer. If you are interested in writing a Senior Post, please email me, Risa. Also hit me up if you want some ideas about what to write. There is no minimum or maximum length and no LGBTQA related topic is off limit. We will accept and publish anonymous submissions.]

An Unsent Poem
By Anonymous 2011 Graduate

In your eyes, I could see our future
it was the one I planned, it was the one I worked for.
I waited a month with you in mind.
I ran and lifted thinking about us in bed.
We were supposed to be perfect,
topped off with a white picket fence.

But here I sit, waiting for the train home,
alone and sad,
heartbroken and wanting to cry.
This wasn’t your fault – you only partially led me on –
I’m not apologizing for you but rather,
I recognize that how I feel lies mostly with me.

My friends told me not to project the future,
not to impart my feelings, wishes, and dreams onto us.
But how could I not?
You wanted me at the beach club and we can back together to my room.
It was the first time someone did that –
to express interest and follow through.

That night was unforgettable:
We were naked and it felt like the most natural thing in the world.
We felt each other’s body and mind –
who talks about schools and voting in bed?
We did and it was amazing.

I was nervous as hell because it could have been my first time.
Yet you were there and made me feel so wanted.
I would have given myself to you.

I’m not sure if we can just be friends now.
There’s too much baggage, too much emotional damage on my side.
I can’t be next to you without looking into your eyes
and thinking about what could have been.

I’ve been in this place before.
In fact, I usually become best friends with my crushes.
I’m counting three right now.
But I don’t know if this will end the same,
that white picket fence is too high.

I thought lunch today would settle everything,
that it would end with either a yes or a no,
but again reality didn’t square with my expectations.
I shared my feelings and got crushed.
Yet you sat there with suave and grace,
Trying to pick up the pieces of me.
You shared your past – the struggles and the burns –
Like a wise sage imparting advice onto a child:
“Try online dating and get a group of friends here” – find yourself.
Hearing you talk, I was in awe and appreciation.
You’re a great guy who I now want more,
but now I realize there is a maturity gap between us.

You’re looking to lay roots –
to develop friends and networks that will carry you through your Ph.D.
Your dates are to find what is out here in this new land.
But me – I’m not sure what I want to do.

Because there are two me’s right now:
One is the heartbroken me who is listening to Adele on his dying iPod
and hearing her words like never before.
He wanted a relationship –
something serious to connect and explore another person,
to be safe and to have a future.
The other is the one that you saw on Saturday night,
the one who bought $100 of alcohol and proceeded to take shots like Party Boy Chad.
He was the one who went to the clubs drunk,
was shirtless half the time,
and somehow ended up grinding with some guy hoisting him in the air.
He was so focused on having fun,
so focused that he didn’t even notice all the looks he was getting
because he spent the last 22 years studying on Saturday nights,
and because he wanted to show you how much fun he could be.

I’m not sure which one is the real me
because that second one has not been me.
But I’m young and I want to have fun,
and I want the attention.
I realize that I sound like a spoiled brat –
but don’t I deserve, haven’t I earned, a chance
to move to the beats and get crazy?
I’ll still wait for that first time to be special
and I’ll still pull 70 hours a week in the office,
but I want my weekend nights to be wild.

Yet I don’t want the sadness and pain of loneliness.
We’re not right for each other now – this I realize after writing.
I do need to find myself first.
One day I’ll text you to be friends or something more.
and on that day, there won’t be two of me.
I don’t expect you to wait –
the only expectation I know to be true is that my friends and I will always be there for each other –
so take care of yourself so that we can brunch one day in the city
without it ending in a sad poem.

July 4, 2011

Anonymous Posts (6.27.11-7.4.11)

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. :)

I spent this past week leading a five-day kayaking and camping trip. It was so refreshing to talk with my campers about homophobia and LGBTQ rights stuff. They just Get It; I was so impressed. I can't even tell you. And when I explained to them that I'm open to the possibility of dating a girl, not one of them flinched. In fact, they thought it was really respectable that I was determined to be with whoever I fell in love with, regardless of that person's gender. So yeah, my campers Rock At Life. Our first session actually ends today, though, so now it's back to square one.

In other news, the US Women's National Soccer Team has advanced to the quarterfinals in the World Cup! They earned the top spot in Group C after beating Korea and Colombia by a combined five goals (and giving up none).

Now for anonymous posts!

#1
so here's the deal. I'm a queer-identified women and I'm all about some flannel shirts and other kinds of button-ups usually worn by men. they're just SO comfortable. How do the rest of you feel about rocking this kind of clothing as a women? do you find it TOO stereotypical? do you avoid it *because* it's stereotypical? I used to, but now I'm thinking... heck, if I like it, there is really no reason not to wear it...


Please remember that there are a number of resources available on campus and in the local community. These resources are available over summer, too! 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).