August 30, 2011

2015ers Leading the Way


Well, if there was ever any question about the role that the class of 2015 would play on campus, let me assure you that they are here and already blazing a trail.

I sort of “came out” in class today (is that what it’s called when you’re questioning and in a complicated place with things?). But I shouldn’t get any credit. Really, the credit should go to the first year student who came out within the first five minutes of class. And who, in doing so, showed me that it could, in fact, be done and that our classroom was safe.

The class, “Race, Gender, and Sexuality” is cross-listed in a bunch of departments. At eight students, it’s a small class. To help us understand the complexity of identities, our professor asked us to share a time when our identities were misinterpreted. One girl talked about being of mixed-ethnicity and therefore being “ethnically ambiguous.” Another student talked about going to a wealthy high school, but actually being from a working class family. Interestingly enough, a few women in my class remembered being cast-type as a lesbian (one is an athlete; the others didn’t dress with a hyper-feminine flare growing up). My gut instinct was to explain how people outside of the LGBT Center/BDU everyone assumed I was straight, and how while in the Center/BDU or other LGBT-spaces people assumed I was a lesbian. As we went around in a circle to share our stories, I debated whether or not I should share that experience. Maybe it would just be easier to explain that being Jewish in a pretty-Christian society left me needing to explain my faith throughout my life (think, especially pre-College). In the end, I opted to share both (many students were sharing a few experiences).

Marianne Williamson once wrote that “as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” If not for that 2015 student who shared that he was gay during an earlier part of the class, I would not have even considered sharing my own experience.

Thank you, 2015er, for shining your light and liberating me. Thank you for letting me, the senior, follow your lead.

August 29, 2011

Anonymous Posts (8.23.11-8.29.11)


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. :)

Yo yo yo. Happy FDOC...which, depending on your course load, might not have a "d" in it. But in any event, we're back at Duke and things are rollin'!!

We'll have a blog meeting soon--but in the meantime, if you are interested in writing for the blog, shoot me an email!

I hear last night's welcome reception at the Center was a big hit (I couldn't make it because I was busy with my JWives at a Jewish Life @ Duke Event). Thanks to everyone who came out (hardy har har). Come see us again outside the Marketplace for snow-cones and jousting on Thursday from 5-7!

A friend sent me this article from the New York Times about bisexual men. Titled "No Surprise for Bisexual Men: Report Indicates They Exist," the article reports on a study that found "evidence that at least some men who identify themselves as bisexual are, in fact, sexually aroused by both women and men." No, duh? Thoughts?

And now, comments from our Community.

#1
When someone asked me about what my biggest fear as an RA was, I lied. My biggest fear does not involve drunken vomiting (although I will admit it ranks high). Instead, what comfort I found in finally accepting my sexuality at Duke is shattered by the prospect that my residents WILL care about what sex I prefer to date or sleep with. The last thing I need is for my ability to perform my job and create a meaningful relationship with my residents be hindered by an aspect of myself, which quite frankly, I'm proud of. Now normally I wouldn't care. If someone doesn't except me for who I am, then I don't have to speak or associate myself with said individual. But as an RA, I'm required to stay involved with my residents. There is no "hands-off" or "ignore the problem" clause in my job description. If my past experiences are correct, then my worries are probably unfounded and people tend not to care. Honestly I hate confrontation (ironic considering the job of an RA), but maybe any potential conflict that would arise involving LGBTQ students would give the experience to diffuse these situations. I'm just curious. Has anyone else in "positions of authority" (I mean this in the broadest sense) gone through similar situations?

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).

August 24, 2011

WOMYN Wednesday!


Well, first things first: I hope that everyone had a fabulous summer! To those who are returning readers of the blog: welcome back! To our new readers (I'm looking at you in particular, Class of '15): welcome to Duke and to the BDU Blog!

A few days ago, Megan wrote up a wonderful post about the many resources and activities for LGBTQ students at Duke. One of those resources is WOMYN, Duke's student publication by and for queer women on campus. I mention WOMYN specifically because I am Jennifer, the current Editor. WOMYN is currently looking for submissions for the next issue, so please send your work to womynatduke@gmail.com. We want everything from comic strips to poetry, as long as it has a queer women's focus, and if you are part of the Duke community, you can submit. The deadline is September 16, which will be here sooner than we realize!

Part of WOMYN's content is also generated by WOMYN Wednesday Polls. Because summer is always (surprisingly) busy for everyone, I thought I'd do a quick round-up of the polls posted in the past few months. Never fear, there aren't too many, so you can fill them out during your lunch break, or between bouts of packing/unpacking/orientation activities. Additionally, it's a fact that participating in these super-short surveys will raise your IQ by a minimum of 5 points. So go hither, thither, and yon to register your responses, which could appear in WOMYN's next issue!

I'll be back on campus this Friday, about which I'm super-excited, and I'd love to talk to you in person about WOMYN if you like!

August 22, 2011

Anonymous Posts (8.15.11-8.22.11)


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. :)

HIIII! I am SO sorry this post is getting up so late! I sort of lost track of my days since getting home from camp (Tuesday) and leaving again a few days later (Sunday). I'm now in Boston, doing research for my senior thesis (see below for my "find of the day") and hopefully seeing a few friends along the way.

First year orientation begins tomorrow--which is oh, so exciting! Welcome to the South/North Carolina/Durham/Duke, 2015! And most importantly, welcome to our Community! Regardless of how you identify, or don't, or how "active" you want to be, this blog, the LGBT(Q) Center, and your fellow passionate, quirky activists are here for you to help you make the most of your time at Duke.

So, to get you started, read Cameron's reflections on his first year at Duke as he offers you advice on how not to fall into the same pits that he did, and then check out Megan's post highlighting some of the many wonderful things going on this semester--including a before classes start orientation reception next Sunday, August 28th (SEE YOU THERE!).

Sadly, there are no anonymous posts this week. We need you, readers!

A little something to leave you with (click on the picture to enlarge), courtesy of Wilma Scott Heide Papers, 1968-1985; "The Boss." MC 522, Box 12, Folder 13. Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.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).

August 21, 2011

"Everything is possible again"


Does the quote that I have selected for the title sound familiar? Well, if you are an incoming member of the class of 2015, then you should have seen that on page 10 of your summer reading book Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer. This post, is for you, 2015ers. One year ago, I was packing up my mom's car, anxious and eager, yet extremely terrified, for what Duke would throw at me. I've been in your same spot. And no matter whether you are out to your family and friends, still closeted, still figuring it out, shy, extroverted, overwhelmed, naïve, or whatever, you are all starting out with a fresh and clean slate. The drama of high school is behind you, now it's time for college.

Being pretty much closeted coming into Duke, I had absolutely no idea what to expect, or what I needed to do to get involved in LGBT activities. But then again, I didn't even know if I wanted to get involved in LGBT life at Duke. I mean, I wasn't even sure if I'd fit in. I figured everybody else would have been out in high school and that I would miss out on opportunities and experiences that I would still be waiting for in the next few years. For the first month of being here, I dealt with so much internal struggle of attending meetings, visiting the LGBT Center, and even coming out to friends, that I felt like I missed out on opportunities. I didn't know who to talk to, or if I wanted to talk about my problems and concerns with anybody, lest I sound like a complainer. I wasn't sure which face I would have to put on in order to go to events, because I was so concerned with how everyone was looking at me. All of these false preconceived notions kept piling on and on, but at one point, I realized I was living a lie. I was lying to myself and I was undermining the very essence of me that I've come to embrace after 18 years of living. I started going to meetings, going to Fab Fridays, and it all culminated in helping pass out Love=Love shirts at Coming Out Day. Once I took that leap, I didn't look back.

Now here I am. One year ago, I feared the result; now, I embrace it.

No matter what background you come from, what race or nationality, what experiences (or lack thereof, in my case) you have, you have to love who you are. And that may be the most difficult task. For the first month and a half that I struggled with coming out at Duke, I hated myself. I hated what I was hiding, and I hated my irrational fears of what others were thinking about me. I wasn't myself. I panicked. Had I completely screwed up already?

I sought help. I talked to my friends, even with fear that they would think of me as the whiniest freshmen on campus. I talked to Janie, I talked to friends back home, I went to events with friends who I trusted, and slowly I reverted back to myself, the real Cameron.

To the Class of 2015: I know that LGBT activism, Fab Fridays, coming out, and many other activities will not appeal to all of you. There is no requirement to be at the LGBT Center every day if you want to "fit in." There is no clique or stereotype that defines the LGBT community at Duke. We all have varying degrees of outness that will influence how involved we are in LGBT life. But honestly, none of that matters to me. I want for you to know the facts, but that's not why I am writing this post. And so to not lose my credibility, I emphasize that this post is not meant to be a cliché blog. This is meant to help.

Be yourself.

I was fake at the beginning. I had my clean slate, and I took advantage of that by trying to be the person I thought everyone wanted me to be. But because of this, I only alienated people and friends. Be the person who applied and was accepted to Duke. The admissions staff works very hard to pick bright and motivated students who can bring something to the Duke community. They selected you because there is something special about you that they saw in your application. Don't let them down. And don't let yourself down. Like I said, I truly hated myself. It was extremely unhealthy, and I regret it all. Take me for an example of what not to do. You may think that you are not special or that there is nothing good about you, but you are sadly mistaken. You have so many wonderful things to offer to Duke, so why would you ruin that? People here want for you to be yourself. I want you to be yourself, simple as that. And when you're feeling lost, seek help. Janie was my life saver, and I know that she will be so glad to talk with any of you.

I chose that specific quote for the title for what it means to me. When Foer's son is born, upon first sight of the newborn, his friend says to him, "Everything is possible again." I find that this can be easily compared to coming to college. The transgressions of the past can fade, and now four years of your undergraduate career is ahead of you. My high school career was great, but I was ready for the college transition so that I could finally be the person and scholar I was destined to be. Everything is possible again at Duke, but it takes the true you to follow whichever path you wish. They are all open to you.

August 15, 2011

Anonymous Posts (8.8.11-8.14.11)


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. :)

Colorado is a pretty amazing place. I feel so fortunate that I got to spend 9 weeks of my summer up here in the Rocky Mountains, making amazing relationships with other staff and working with some truly terrific campers. For instance, yesterday, a camper and I talked about his two moms and how that made his life different than everyone else's. That said, I'm stoked (with a tinge of sadness) to head back to Phoenix--110+ degree weather and all. And as if the reality of being a senior hasn't hit me yet (I sort of maybe just figured out my classes), the next time I write I'll be in the midst of spending a week in Boston to research for my senior thesis before finally getting back to my dorm sweet dorm (read: Few Quad/WHO House!).


#1
Seeing the amazing It Gets Better video from the Visa employees made me wonder if any elected officials had done anything similar. There are quite a few, including one made from splicing together 13 individual videos from senators. It features Senators Richard Blumenthal (Conn.), Sherrod Brown (Ohio), Chris Coons (Del.), Maria Cantwell (Wash.), Dick Durbin (Ill.), Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), Al Franken (Minn.), Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.), Charles Schumer (N.Y.), Jeanne Shaheen (N.H.), Mark Udall (Colo.), Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.), and Ron Wyden (Ore.).


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).

August 8, 2011

Anonymous Posts (8.1.11-8.7.11)


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! It seems that the summer is winding down, and I can't lie--I'm pretty stoked to get back to Duke, the Center, Our Lives Discussion Groups (what do yall want to talk about?), regularly scheduled blog content, meeting the class of 2015, nights out at Vespa/The Station/Legends (and Shooters?), Women's Housing, working for the women's basketball team, and so much more!

I hope everyone has enjoyed all of their summertime adventures as much as I have.

See you soon. Until then, keep writing in, commenting and reading!

#1
i can't figure out if i have a crush on this girl or not. i thought i had these things all figured out--cool people were cool and that was that. i know that i don't have sexual feelings for her, at least not the way that i feel for the guy i'm currently hooking up with. but i can't deny that i'm pretty intensely emotionally attracted to her. and i guess none of this matters because 1) we worked together this summer and the summer is just about over. 2) i'm sort of exclusively hooking up with this guy. and 3) i feel confident that she doesn't reciprocate the feelings/isn't at all interested in being with another woman. but it still complicates everything i thought i had figured out. i wish these things would match up. for basically the first time in my life, i'm physically/sexually attracted to someone (a guy). but i have no inkling of emotional attraction to him. in fact, i don't even have the desire/need to be friends with him. i'm surprised by this, but i'm quite happy meeting after it's dark to canoodle. and then there's this girl who i'm pretty enamored by, but I don't feel those things for her physically, even though I wish i did.

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).

August 4, 2011

Indifferent


Before leaving college in the spring, I promised myself I’d come out to my parents again. I felt like I needed to. I didn’t want to come home and feel suffocated and unlike myself—not closeted, but certainly not as comfortable as I felt at Duke.

When I came out to my parents those years ago, we never got a chance to talk about what it would mean for me or for our family. They didn’t want to talk about it, and I’m ashamed to say I didn’t either. For reasons unknown, “bisexual” didn’t make sense to them and they didn’t want to talk about their daughter “being repulsed by men” and being a lesbian. So, we didn’t talk. I’d never had much of a talking relationship with my parents anyway; what we didn’t talk about didn’t exist.

But I did grow comfortable with myself and I did find the idea of talking to them about something that would eventually be important to me somewhat necessary. No, I wouldn’t speak to them in detail about these things, but I’d bring certainty into a topic that has been uncertain amongst us for about 3 years now. “Yes, mom, I like women. No, dad, I don’t hate men. I like them too.“ That’s all I really wanted to say.

Now I see, despite these years of my growing ease and sorting through feelings that I was never sure about, I can safely say with my comfort has come discomfort. All that I wanted to say to my parents has still stayed the same, but it’s not enough. I know for a fact it won’t be enough; not for them, and not for anyone but myself. I’m not bisexual. I’m not a lesbian and I’m certainly not straight. I’ve known this for years now. I spent the past year in college trying to figure everything out, and it’s all been in vain. I settled into a shell of asexuality but even doubt if that’s right for me. Biromantic is the only thing that seems accurate. But romantic attraction is easy to figure out and it doesn’t help the insecurities I feel when I’m attempting a relationship with someone, treading the unknown with physicality and that realm of sexual connection I have trouble justifying with purpose.

What if I’m asexual? What if I’m demisexual? What if I’m gray-asexual? What does that really matter? Again, I find myself shedding the labels that merely serve to confuse me and complicate what I find to be a very simple existence. And I tend to stick to what is simple. I used to think that, in general, I was a very indecisive person. I see now that I know what I don’t want, and beyond the scope of what I don’t want, I’m not too picky—I’m indifferent. And that’s how I am with dating most times. No, I don’t want to be Forever Alone, but I can’t bring myself to put romantic relationships above the other wonderful things life has to offer. It is this way of thought that probably led to my solidarity with the asexual/aromantic community, during my identity crisis (this sounds a bit melodramatic) a few months ago. This doesn’t mean I don’t want to be in a relationship, it means that I see the world as it is, uncertainties and all.

If only it were as easy as telling my parents, “I’m indifferent.”

August 1, 2011

Anonymous Posts (7.25.11-7.31.11)


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. :)

Wazzup? This past week I went on a camping/creek saving excursion with a brief detour to the Great Sand Dunes and Zapata Falls. Such a good time. Have you ever seen 100 square miles of sand dunes!?!

Our second set of campers are leaving today, along with a bunch of staff. Our community is breaking up, which I guess is a little like the end of the school year. We have a third and final session of kids arriving on Wednesday and then I'll be home/Duke bound! SO EXCITED!

#1
Hello all. My aunt works for Visa and recently shared this video made by Visa in support of the Trevor Project. Even as a straight woman at Duke, I found it incredibly moving and inspirational, and I just wanted to share it somewhere it might be seen by someone who needs it. Feel free to pass it along :

#2
Onion article Mom and Dad I'm Gay and Also Stronger than Both of You

#3
I'm in an open relationship by distance. It's been this way the entire time we've been dating, which has been over a year now. He goes out of his way to do thoughtful things and say he misses me when we're apart, and we're planning on finally living together about six months from now. My problem, though, is that it's actually come close to driving me crazy before, trying to fall asleep on nights when I know he's with another guy. He has a way of getting into, beyond just fuck buds, what he considers real friendships with sex involved. I don't have a problem finding guys to hook up with myself, but unlike him, it's rare that I actually enjoy sex outside the relationship, and even rarer that I meet a guy I actually want to spend time with. I've said this to him many times, and he's been sensitive up to this point. I don't know how to talk about jealousy with him though. He's been impatient about the subject when I've brought it up in the past, and I'm worried about pushing him away. He's told me that relationships of mine have made him jealous in the past, but based on the way he expresses it, I don't know if he experiences the feelings as strongly as I do. Tonight, for example, he mentioned in a text that he had driven to a city 80 miles away to spend time with a guy he'd been emailing. I want to give him space, since he complains to no end about being lonely when we're not together. But I wonder if he knows how much effort it took for me to say "have a good time" and try to put it out of my mind.

#4
Can I just say how awesome UCLA is for doing this? Now, if only Brodhead, the Duke administration, and the Duke community could make a statement as bold as UCLA's chancellor's and the rest of their community.

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).