[Editor's Note: Hey Readers! Welcome to the fourth installation of "Throwback Thursdays." Every first Thursday of the month we'll feature a post from the BDU Blog, Version 1.0. This post marks our first in a series of Senior Posts. 2012ers, please email. in your submissions! They can be a reflection on your four years, a specific experience, your future plans, whatever! We will accept anonymous submissions.]
December 30, 2008
But I simply can't imagine more gay students going through what I have already, and I would hope that you all can't either.
London is, without a doubt, one of the best cities I have had the pleasure of visiting. And despite having firm loyalties to New York, I'd have to admit that my experiences in the UK were far better than those I've had in NYC. Of course, it helped that Obama won the elections, so much so that his victory eventually became a part of my pick-up lines: "So...you know I voted for Obama, don't you? Oh yeah...he's my brotha' from anotha' motha'..." - kissing and over the clothes fondling quickly ensuing, of course.
But jokes aside, my time in London has led to considerable self-reflection, particularly as regards my final semester at Duke, a semester which I'd prefer to skip all together. That's right: I count myself amongst those 'angry' gays who hold a deep-seated resentment towards the university. I'll make no mention of the conservative roommate I had freshmen year ('Parking for Republicans Only, All Others Will Be Bush Whacked' read one memorable poster), nor of the homophobic comments my gay roommate and I received on our door sophomore year - these things are neither here nor there.
Rather, it'd be far more impressionable to relate how I view the Duke gay community as it exists today. That is, a gay student body too afraid to make itself visible on a campus that very clearly needs to learn the true meaning of both 'acceptance' and 'tolerance.' There have been posts suggesting that two men seen kissing or holding hands on our campus would garner no negative attention, for example, a suggestion which I find entirely laughable. If my wearing a collared shirt with too many buttons undone garners stares and titters, how the hell would people react to my displaying my affection for another man? And let me assure you, what I say is based in truth for, as one friend told me, "My boyfriend and I [seen holding hands in the Bryan Center] got so many dirty looks and laughs that we eventually had to leave."
This, it shouldn't surprise you, occurred only a year ago. And yet you all would feign ignorance, insisting that only the "flamers" have such negative experiences, and rightfully so, considering they flaunt their homosexuality. My response: WAKE THE FU** UP! Realize that where one gay man is harassed, we're all harassed; where one couple is made to feel uncomfortable, we're all made to feel uncomfortable. Realize that an 'effeminate' gay man has just as much right to happiness as those gay men and women who are capable of 'passing' as heterosexuals. Arguing that the LGBT should somehow 'be seen and not heard' is simply internalized homophobia, for it implies that we are inherently wrong in demanding the very same freedoms (to love) as our heterosexual equals.
If, at this moment, I were asked to evaluate our (small) community on its visibility, I'd be forced to give it a 4/10 (a score which would be even lower if not for the success of the Love=Love T-shirts). This is for two reasons: 1) we lack genuine unity, with straight-acting gay men feeling somehow superior to the more effeminate gay men for having the capacity to blend in, and 2) our contentment in being all-together silent on campus. As regards the latter: we, like the vast majority of Duke students (besides those in SHARE, perhaps), are afraid to operate outside of the norm. This includes how we dress, how we speak, and, most importantly, our sexuality.
But within this weakness, I think, is our greatest strength. That is, we can do something which very many Duke students can't bring themselves to do: we can be ourselves. Simple, isn't it? But it's something which we DON'T do when we refuse to, say, hold the hand of a boyfriend or girlfriend; refuse to wear something because it's simply 'too gay;' or degrade openly gay students for being such 'flamers.' It's something which I, too, have failed to do in my time at Duke, and which I hope to change upon returning. If that means wearing those skinny jeans hidden away in the back of my closet, then so be it - gay men and women have done far more than restrict their breathing in securing acceptance...
I doubt that things will change in a semester and, honestly, I shouldn't care considering I'll be escaping to the oh-so-gay-friendly Northeast. But I simply can't imagine more gay students going through what I have already, and I would hope that you all can't either. And so, I'll end where I started, with Obama; who promised us not just hope, but CHANGE. Let us do that for our own campus, then - with a little over the clothes fondling thrown in for the hell of it.