February 6, 2012

Anonymous Posts (1.31.12-2.5.12)

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 y'all--Before we run down the cool stuff going on in the world, I must plug tonight's women's basketball game against CAROLINA. 7pm. Cameron. Be there and scream loudly, "GTHC." (Sorry, GLBTSA readers! We really do love YOU--just not your sports teams!)

GLSEN's "THink B4 You Speak" campaign, featuring Duke's own Grant Hill, aired outside of the Super Bowl stadium last night! It's sort of (really) a Big Deal.

My dad was here visiting this weekend and we did all sorts of fun things (read: ate a lot of delicious Durham food and did sportsy things). I'm rather sad that he leaves tomorrow AM. BUT! We've got some great stuff going on in the Community this week, like the Our Lives Discussion Group at 7pm on Tuesday! And a blog meeting on Thursday at 9:30pm in Few FF (specific location tba)!

Until then, read this week's posts from OC!

Discuss. Do you feel this is true of Durham? Can anyone relate to these experiences and/or personal interpretations?

Why isn't there a LGBT SLG????

Today hurt. One of my friends saw a family photo I was forced to straighten my hair and wear umm.... uncharacteristically girly clothes for. I was complaining about how awkward it was etc etc when she said, "I like it, you look like a girl here!" Yeah, I'm a gay girl and I don't try to look all girly. Some days I look a little boyish or whatever. But I'd like to think I can still be clearly seen as a girl. What makes it even worse is that she's my only friend at Duke who I'm close enough to and who is open minded enough for me to be out to. It's crazy to think how such an otherwise great ally could say something that bothered me so much. I don't know if maybe I'm just over reacting or what. But it hurts knowing that the only person I could talk this through with is the person who said it.

For those who are upset with Cynthia Nixon's comments, I encourage you to read Kristin and Dannielle's responses on everyoneisgay.com. Both of them are spot-on, in my opinion. I understand the potential backlash for suggesting that being gay is a "choice" for some people, but isn't that argument circular? By kowtowing to homophobes and saying being gay isn't a choice for anyone, we're just reinforcing that it's a lesser option. Kristin's last statement reinforces that notion particularly well.

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).


  1. #3 I know how it feels when one of your more tolerant friends says something heteronormative/homophobic/hurtful. In my experience, what I have learned is that you often have to give them the benefit of the doubt. Not to say that their comment was ok ( it definitely was not), but you have to recognize where they are on their journey. This is what I mean: A very smart woman once gave me this advice when dealing with my homophobic mother...She said "give her time, because like you needed time to sort out your own inner homophobia, she now needs time to sort out hers". It made me see the situation in a much different light. Speaking from personal experience it took me years to come to terms with my identity, and squash my inner homophobia so I can’t necessarily expect my friends and family to change their way of thinking overnight, when it took me years. Like my mom, by friends here at Duke are still on their journey to erase the years of heteronormitivity and homophobia that they were taught as a kid. The key point is that your friend is trying and she is on her journey. It doesn't sound like she purposefully hurt you, so I would advise that you have a chat with her and tell her why what she said was hurtful...if she doesn't know it was hurtful, she will say/do it again. With my friends I had to correct a lot of homophobic language..."that’s gay"..."its not natural"....etc,etc,etc. But I will say they often pick up quicker than you may think after you talk with them, but give them time to travel on their journey. It gets better...I hope this helps :)

    #4 I debated whether to comment on this because I feel so strongly, but I fell it is important. First off, I don't believe anyone chooses to be gay...anyone. I do believe that some bisexuals choose to be with a partner of the same sex, but I don't think that bisexuality was a choice. I read the responses you suggested, and they claim that we should be fighting discrimination instead of arguing among ourselves. I think they are right, but we have to have a united message first...we can have some in our community who go out and preach the same thing as Rick Santorum, Michelle Bachman, Herman Cain, and all those who run the "reparative therapy " clinics. You can't go around saying that you chose to be gay, because that gives the impression that others could have done the same. I DID NOT. That’s not to say that I would change if I could, but it is saying that I was born gay, just as I was born black. I love being gay and being black, and I would not change either. What really gets me though is the thought that all those gay teens who jumped off bridges, or slit their wrist choose to be bullied and harassed and ostracized. Are we really saying that teenagers in rule Mississippi raised in the Southern Baptist Church just choose to be gay? What about all the gay and lesbian men and women throughout history who were beaten by mobs and chased out of town.... did they choose that? Finally, I don't understand the point of this "I chose to be gay” movement. We are having a hard enough time convincing people of our equality as it is. Why would we throw another wrench in the struggle? If we say "we choose to be gay, equality please!" they will hear "we choose to be purposely difficult, and now we want you to rewrite the laws to give us special privileges". When you say being gay is a choice, you dishonor everyone who died as a result of his or her sexual orientation, and you make the march towards equality even more difficult.

    -Just my two cents

  2. #2: You could not have an SLG that had some kind of litmus test to prove how gay, how much of an ally, or how committed to LGTBQ things you are. What would that rush process look like? Would people feel comfortable joining something based on one personal identifier (sexual orientation) rather than on the broader platforms laid out by others (brownstone, round table, maxwell, etc.)

    In SLGs currently, LGBTQ-identified individuals or activism may be a big part of the dorm, but are not the single defining feature. I think it gets tough when you're using one identifying factor (that is very personal, and in my opinion, fluid and complicated and confusing) as the fundamental building block of an entire living community.

    I think the best we can hope for is that current SLGs embrace LGBTQA individuals and promote Center activities and that ratios of straight/non-straight people balance out so that SLGs are very queer --in multiple senses of the word -- and make a specific LGBTQA group unnecessary. Sound fair?

  3. #1. Not being queer, I know that I can't properly answer this. But I can say this sentence is true: "This town is as full of religious zealots, frat boys, and army families as it is full of chicks on fixed-gear bikes with short hair and bandanas in their pockets. It's so confusing in such a small place."

    I love Durham, unabashedly and completely, but I doubt that it's paradise for any LGBTQA person. It's still in the South. It's working through its problems. I don't think it's necessarily fair to hate Durham because it doesn't have a big scene for queer men, but on the other hand, if that is something that's really important to you in finding a place to live, it's a fair reason to stay away from Durham.

    Also, while Duke culture does kind of intersect with Durham culture in some areas, they're generally very separate. So I don't think that an examination of the Durham queer scene is necessarily a reflection of the Duke queer scene.

  4. The nexus has gender neutral housing (you can pick a roommate of any gender identity). We have four 'founding values' -- Curiosity, positive discourse, imagination, and equality and respect for all gender and sexual identities

    So while we're not an "LGBT" SLG, and we're not "themed" around LGBT issues, I think it is fair to say that everyone in the nexus is LGBT or an ally

  5. Hi #3,

    I remember in my Psych of Gender class we talked a lot about how the emotions, thoughts and feelings of women are in general, discounted by society on a regular basis, and as such women can sometimes internalize that and sort of brush-off the importance or realness of their own feelings & emotions. Now that's a huge generalization and a really broad statement-but I'd have to agree that it's a relatively true one. Your last line-wondering if "I'm just overreacting"-really made me think of this when I read it.

    My first reaction is that you're not overreacting at all! This seems really difficult. Especially regarding who it came from. I love Denzell and everything he says, and so after reading his comment I think he does bring up an interesting point. I know throughout my life I've said (and sometimes continue to say) homophobic, racist and sexist things-and that I essentially think there is a sort of learning process based on when you're exposed to these issues. You did mention that the photo made you uncomfortable-so hopefully she might have picked up on that and played off your reaction. But since she didn't (and she said tried a different tactic to make you feel better about it-which turned out to have the opposite of the probably intended effect, and be hurtful) it's showing that there is still a learning process (as always) that is still developing with your friend.

    It also is tiring & frustrating that this learning process might have to come from you-right? But isn't that how oppression works? People within marginalized categories are constantly having to educate others. One of the best ways to be an ally of any cause is to actively self-educate, "to not always expect the [marginalized] person to be the teacher", as I heard it once. Unfortunately that may not exactly be happening here.

    I'm not sure where you'll choose to go from this-it might be that you find the energy to discuss with her openly about gender presentation, or it might be that you decide today isn't the day you want to have to be that teacher. With either decision you make, I think it'll be the right one, simply because you're going against this mysoginistic society of ours and listening to your real emotions and acting on thoughts, feelings and sentiments thereby affirming them as valid and worth listening to. (Go feminism!)

    Good luck, and feel free to ask anymore questions here or individually: (mrw22@duke.edu).

  6. Ugh to that Jamie Stewart article. What a prick.

  7. ^What Eric said.

    Also, I think an LGBT SLG is a bad idea. Then again, I think a lot of the (newer) SLGs are bad ideas.

  8. #1:

    Okay so I have major issues with this article. He presents a valid point that he feels underrepresented in Durham and that he's clearly been through some experiences where he was not made to feel safe. HOWEVER, I am appalled by his excessive use of the F-- and D-- words to describe PEOPLE IN HIS OWN COMMUNITY.

    Talk about Adults not speaking to Adults properly.

    I don't want to invalidate and experience he's had, but honestly is he measuring queer success by numbers of exclusively gay or lesbian bars? Last time I checked, that definitely wasn't something in the gay litmus test.


    Okay so I'm actually super touched by this. As an ally, I would be completely heartbroken if I was to say something to make any of my friends feel uncomfortable/unsafe around me. You're not overreacting, but please talk to her about it. It might have been a knee-jerk statement and if you fail to bring it up with her, it's going to seriously hurt your friendship and only you will know why.

    Bring it up softly and explain what the situation was like from your perspective. I'm sure that she didn't mean for her statement to hurt you. She just might not have been thinking. You'll never know if you don't talk to her, just saying.

    I agree with Denzell actually on this one, I understand the sentiment expressed by them and I totally am with the 100% on the issue of the individual SGM (Sexuality and Gender Minority) experience. However, it just makes me really wary when those things are said by people in the public. I'm not really angry at Nixon for being the way that she is, but I am upset at the lack of tact in terms of expression. I just don't want to give conservative folks and like minded folks the fuel they need to argue that it is a choice and can therefore be changed. Even if it's made explicitly clear that this is the feeling of ONE PERSON and maybe SOME other people, but not all people.

    That distinction never seems to pass on when it's being discussed by people who are striving for inequality.