June 7, 2012

Throwback Thursdays:My Duke: Affirming. Disapproving. And Everything In Between.

[Editor's Note: Hey Readers! Welcome to the seventh installation of "Throwback Thursdays." Every first Thursday of the month we'll feature a post from the BDU Blog, Version 1.0. I hope that everyone is enjoying their summers. I don't know if you're feeling that life just moves at a slower pace during the summer, but I sure am. I was looking through the archives to find a good post for Throwback Thursdays and I saw this one. This a nice and short little piece on the complexity of the Duke environment, and it touches on some very good points. Enjoy.]

December 9, 2008

There seems to be a lot of discussion about whether or not Duke is an accepting and affirming place to be an LGBT student. I do not think it is possible to answer that question with a simple yes or no.

There seems to be a lot of discussion about whether or not Duke is an accepting and affirming place to be an LGBT student. I do not think it is possible to answer that question with a simple yes or no. I am happy at Duke and am very glad I chose to go here. My LGBT experiences have enriched me in ways I never imagined. I have made many great lifelong friends, became an activist and have learned much about what it means to be an LGBT person. I have met many allies who love me for me regardless of my sexual orientation or how I display my gender. Before Duke, I was out, but not in the way I wanted to be. Duke has taught me how to be the person that I choose to be. This campus has allowed me to display my sexual orientation and gender identity without being ashamed. However, I cannot ignore the negative experiences either. I cannot ignore the fact that I get stared and gawked at everywhere I go, and not even when I’m holding hands with a boy or wearing a particularly “gay” outfit. Usually it’s just when I’m crossing the quad like any other student. I cannot ignore the fact that I have been physically threatened for my display of my sexual orientation and gender identity. I cannot ignore the fact that I regularly have drunk frat guys telling me to perform sexually degrading acts for them due to my sexual orientation and gender identity. Duke is a wonderful place and I am happy and excited to be out and proud. I have found niches filled with affirming and supportive people and I have found niches with some of the most bigoted and homophobic people I have ever met. I guess it just depends on which side I focus on in deciding whether or not it is an affirming campus.

To those of you who persistently say that Duke is not an affirming place, I ask you to please remember all the good experiences that you have had at Duke being an LGBT person and to not forget them, even when everybody seems to be against you. In my experience, it has been these positive experiences that will define how I move my life forward and become the person I want to be post-Duke. And to those of you who persistently say that Duke is an affirming place, I ask you to pay closer attention and to see the whole picture and the inevitable negativity that will always be present. It may seem easier to block out the negativity, but it is something that we can all learn and grow from. I know that had I not gotten these stares or threats; I would not be able to walk across campus, head held high and full of pride like I do today.

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