[Editor's Note: Hey Readers! Welcome to the sixth installation of "Throwback Thursdays." Every first Thursday of the month we'll feature a post from the BDU Blog, Version 1.0. This one is about someone's experience as an out and happy person on Duke's campus. So, as many of you might have heard, the center is moving to where OSAF is in a year. Well, it's estimated to go there in a year, so who knows? Also, Amendment 1 Amendment 1 Amendment 1. This is go time for Duke Together against Constitutional Discrimination, so please please please get involved if you can. Jacob is doing a wonderful job with Duke Together, so let's show our support.]
December 6, 2008
[Author's note: Duke isn't perfect, but neither is any college. I am overwhelmingly satisfied that I came here, despite the challenges I have faced (academically, socially, and "gay" related). I am in a relationship, I am gay, I am a senior, I am a Dukie, I am me, and I am happy.]
Seeing so much negativity in the posts here and on the Me Too Blog, I often wonder what I am doing different that makes me feel different, and I realize that it isn't that I have done anything different, but I think that my perspective may be different. I admit that I have been at Duke for a while now, and am ready to get out of here, but it is not because of the negative experiences I have had here. I'm just ready to move on and take the next step. I am HAPPY at Duke and couldn't see myself anywhere else, despite the issues I have been confronted with.
I have taken interesting courses with professors who for the most part care about their students. I have had great groups of friends who have supported me and embraced me when I came out to them my freshman year. Being out on campus for about two and a half years now has not been a bad experience, but has, in fact, been the best adventure of my life. I have felt free at Duke to be myself for the most part (maybe censored as I walk by frat sections, but its just like living in Durham, you learn what is safe and what is not). The Center for LGBT Life gave me a place to spend time and meet people, and I learned a few things there. I learned that not all gays and lesbians fit the stereotypes that have been built up about us, and I learned that the LGBT students who visit the Center come from all walks of life and that it is much harder to label someone than I previously thought. I was scared to come to the LGBT Center my freshman year, but I don't think I would be as happy and as comfortable a person today if it hadn't been for that short walk almost three years ago.
I admit that I am not wholely committed to the "gay scene" at Duke, and I therefore don't know what drama does happen. However, maybe that is a testament to the fact that not everyone has to fit some mold to be gay at Duke. You can be who you are while taking advantage of the resources that are available to you so that you feel comfortable. I still encourage everyone to come out and be honest with yourself, your family, and your friends. But it is not necessary to become an active member of the LGBT Center (although it is there for you if you want it) to be out at Duke.
Duke isn't perfect, but neither is any college. I am overwhelmingly satisfied that I came here, despite the few challenges I have faced (academically, socially, and "gay" related). I am in a relationship, I am gay, I am a senior, I am a Dukie, I am me, and I am happy. You can be all of these and more at Duke. I just think that although we concentrate on the bad things while we are here, it will be the good things that happen that will shape our futures and shape our views of Duke after we have left.
My perspective is that of an out senior who now is thinking back on his years as an LGBT student at Duke. At times I have been negative about Duke and about situations I have experienced. I have been stared at, made fun of, insulted, and confronted by a Duke staff member about my sexuality, and those were all bad experiences. However, I don't dwell on those things and although I definitely see the benefit in expressing them on this blog, I would hope that we can also express the positive experiences we have had at Duke. Those are the times we will remember most, and those are the times that I do remember most as I realize that my time here is limited and coming to an end.
If this came across as a pompous disply of some sort of "superiority," it wasn't meant that way. I only wanted to give those reading this blog a chance to see the positives that I don't think have been expressed up to this point. Duke is, overall, a great place to be whether or not you are gay. If it was that bad and made us that unhappy, why would we stay here?