March 30, 2012

The Games I play


I love watching T.V. but I hate commercials with a passion. To make the time go by faster I created my own game…spot the heteronomitivity in the T.V. commercial. Once you pay attention, it can be very interesting the ways a commercial for dental floss can squeeze in a heternomitive agenda. One of my personal favorites is a cat food commercial, which is so heteronomitive you almost forget about the cat.

This got me thinking, are there any commercials with LGBT influences? Well my friends the answer is yes, and I found a boatload of them on YouTube. The sad part is most of them are foreign, or only seen on Logo, but nonetheless they are still pretty cool.

Here are some of my favorites.

The gay one… This one is so cute that it makes you want to eat McDonalds everyday!

The lesbian one…. took me a moment, but I lol’ed when I realized what was going on.

The bisexual one… I can’t understand what they are saying at the end, but words aren’t necessary.

The transgender one… It was hard to find one that wasn’t borderline offensive, but I think this one does the trick!

My hope is one day theses will be a staple on mainstream T.V. Then maybe commercials will be less painful to watch.

So...interesting things don't really happen to me...


[Author’s note: I haven't really had any queer life experiences recently, so I'm just going to ramble a bit. Sorry. Post a comment if you'd like me to elaborate or just want to talk about something.]


So, since I'm a little short on LGBT related experiences to draw upon, I guess I'll talk a little bit about what my identity means to me. I identify as bisexual, as many of may know. That said, I've never actually had a sexual experience with a man. I think I might have had a romantic one once, but that was confusing and I was repressed so
I don't really count it. The reason I identify as bisexual though is pretty simple logic. I know for damn sure that I'm not straight. Straight boys just aren’t attracted to other boys.

The thing I find almost amusing is how integral the LGBT center and LGBT people have become in my life. I never thought of my sexual orientation as a big part of me, because I’m just not a very sexual person in general. So the idea that I would end up writing for a queer blog and working in the center would have sounded silly. My sexual orientation wouldn’t ever become that important to me, or so I thought. The thing that I failed to consider is that this is probably the only group that I belong to that is systemically oppressed. I mean, I am white and masculine enough to benefit from those two privilege systems. My family is middle class and I went to a pretty decent high school. I’m pretty lucky when it comes to privilege. So my bisexuality is the only thing that is considered inferior from a societal standpoint. But I could ramble about choosing how to identify myself all day, and I’ve got other thoughts to air.

Coming out as a bisexual (who is dating a woman) was a really strange (and tiring) experience. Inside my mind I always knew that I had the option to not come out, and nobody would be the wiser. I mean, people weren’t looking for me to be queer. I had a girlfriend. As we all know, having a different sexed partner is the number one indicator of straightness. Better yet, my relationship was the perfect excuse not to come out, because it wasn’t a ruse. I had (and do have) genuine feelings for this girl, and so I could pass perfectly easily. What’s worse, I wondered if she would break up with me if I came out. What it came down to, for me, was that if people would reject me for that, I didn’t want them around me anyway. No matter what the short term pain might be, it would be better than me having this secret constantly eating at me.

Then came the actual coming out. First person I came out to was my girlfriend, and in response she came out to me. Then we cuddled up on the couch and watched Fawlty Towers. So that went much better than expected. With that massive success I decided I would tell all sorts of people, my friends, my parents, my sister, anybody if it was relevant to a conversation. That…slowed down quickly. I got exhausted with having to explain it didn’t mean I was breaking up with my girlfriend, and no this doesn’t mean I’m secretly much hornier than I’ve previously shown, and yes I can be monogamous, … you get the idea. Hearing the same old questions got really frustrating, and made me realize how little people know about bisexuals. (Or queer people in general, I imagine, though I can only speak from my personal experience.)

So at the close of this ramble I’d like to remind you that if you’d like me to elaborate on some of the things in this 1:00 AM ramble, just ask me below in the comment thread. Or maybe you just want to use something here as the start for a larger conversation. Or maybe you saw something problematic here. I’d love to hear any of your thoughts. I’m a sucker for conversation. Anyway, that’s it from me. See you next month!

March 29, 2012

Dandelions in the Wind


[Author’s note: The following post is about an Andrea Gibson poem, which can be seen/heard here.]

To anyone who has ever wanted to die: I have been told sometimes the most healing thing we can do is remind ourselves over and over and over other people feel this too // The tomorrow that has come and gone, and it has not gotten better // When you’re half finished writing that letter to your mother that says I swear to God I tried.

Andrea Gibson performed at UNC last week, and it was fantastic. I’ve been a big fan of her spoken word for a while now, but hearing her speak in person was an entirely different experience. As I’ve said before, Andrea’s words usually make so much more sense than the ones in my own head—feeling the energy of those words echo in a room full of people was one of the coolest experiences of my life thus far. One of the best parts of Andrea’s work is that she truly speaks from the heart and addresses issues that most people feel more comfortable just ignoring. This is one of Andrea’s newest poems, and she performed it last week at UNC. Out of the 10-15 poems that she performed, this one moved my heart the most.

You are not weak just because your heart feels so heavy // I have never met a heavy heart that wasn’t a phone booth with a red cape inside // Some people will never understand the kind of super power it takes for some people to just face the day.

These words. There’s something really beautiful about a heavy heart—it’s a testament to love and pain and living. I don’t really know how to express how much admiration I have for people who have the strength to face the day.

What I know about living is that pain is never just ours.

I think it’s easier for us to believe that pain is a solitary experience. We can hide away in our own troubles and ignore everyone around us. Because letting other people in, that’s the scary part. That’s the part that takes strength and bravery when we feel as though we have nothing else to give.

Here we are, together at the window, aching for it to all get better // But knowing there is a chance, our hearts may have only just skinned their knees // Knowing there is a chance, the worst thing might still be coming // Let me say right now for the record, I’m still gonna be here—asking this world to dance.

As great as the “It Get’s Better” campaign was in terms of opening up dialogue, I don’t think it necessarily sent the right message. Yes, one day your life will be better. But, one day, it might be worse too. And that’s okay, because that’s life. What we need to be saying is that we are here, wearing our red capes, making it through it all together. We, taking in this life together, will make it better.

The only thing we have to gain in staying is each other // My god, that is plenty // My god, that is enough // My god, that is so so much.

March 26, 2012

Anonymous Posts (3.19.12-3.25.12)

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. :)

So I guess y'all know what this intro blurb is going to be about! That's right, that big festivus out on the plaza to get Duke voters involved in the upcoming election! As I'm sure you're aware, May 8th is going to be kind of a big deal for us. So if you haven't registered to vote yet, you may want to consider getting on that. We've got an amendment to kill!

But yes, Lav Ball was also this weekend. It was a hot mess, in the best possible way. It was great to see the Doris Duke Center packed with OC, props especially to the Allies who came without dates. All in all, it's great to see that kind of involvement.

Now without further ado, notes from OC:

#1
I am a white queer person, and one of the reasons that I have stopped going to the LGBT Center at Duke is because it frustrates me that the community is not doing enough to reach out to LGBTQ(A) people of color. There are a few people in the community aware of this problem (and I thank them for working against the white privilege in the Center), but the Center is not doing nearly enough. I am frustrated at the other white people in the community for not recognizing or trying to solve this. Some of them do try to actively work against it, but the Center is NOT doing enough. Please recognize this, and if you are a white person in this community, start thinking of ways to actively engage with topics and individuals of LGBTQ students of color at Duke. It is not a student of color's responsibility to attend Center events to try and change this. It is the responsibility of the Center and the white-dominated community to ACTIVELY self-educate and actively program and reach out to students of color. Acknowledging and being aware of this problem is the first step (and many do not even acknowledge it yet!). The second step is then to actively work again the white privilege in the Center and to program events and reach out to communities of color constantly and with all events as possible.

#2
I cannot even begin to explain how much the gay men talk down to me as a woman or how much they seem so self-absorbed. And we wonder why none of us women go to the Center.

#3
Today I came out to someone I was really nervous about coming out to. When I told her, she smiled and told me she already knew. She said "I'm happy for you! And I hope you have a great time at Lav Ball!" I don't think she even realizes how much she made my day! It gave me such a boost of confidence to know that my friends love me for who I am, not for who I thought I was coming into college

#4
I feel like gay women really get the short end of the stick and I'm fed up with it. My straight friends always try to change me (give me make-overs, have me wear dresses etc) and it's like I'm not your damn project, stop trying to change me. You don't see people making the gay male friends adhere to more masculine stereotypes. Even my gay male friend who you would think understands that gay people don't necessarily follow gender stereotypes insists on me dressing up "fancy" (aka in a skirt/dress looking miserable with my hair down). He says I look prettier that way, but it's his version of pretty not mine. Hell, I don't even want the word pretty to be used to describe me. At this point I'm left wondering if the friends I have that keep trying to change me really are my friends.

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).

March 25, 2012

Stronger

I used to struggle a lot with my identity. Not just as a gay man but also as a black man, as a man, and as Greek. It seemed that so many of my identities overlapped but didn't coincide with each other. One identity was always in conflict with one or more other identities.

I felt as though I was always in this tug-of-war with myself to find which identity I really belong with. I had always felt that I should choose a side. That it wasn't fair for me to move between identities and groups, choosing which one was more convenient for me given the time and situation. I wanted to resolve myself to one main identity and let the others fall where they may.

Needless to say, that didn't work too well for me. I just couldn't deny part of who I am at the drop of a hat. I can't toggle back and forth between my identity like I do with TV channels. So, I was always frustrated. Never feeling totally out of place anywhere but also never feeling totally *in* place either.

But then, I realized something that so many people have been trying to get me to understand for the longest time. I DON'T HAVE TO CHOOSE. I can be me as me. I don't have to be me as a black man or as a gay man or as a Greek man. Who I am is a convergence of all those identities. Even if some of them don't usually mix with each other, it doesn't mean that I should feel uncomfortable in those situations. I look at myself as some weird mix of all of those that somehow works. I'm your living, breathing Chimera. Different parts put together that create a whole. One part is no more important than the other. All must work together in order to create balance.

That is what I must do. I have to accept that I am different because of my identities and that it's ok. There will rarely ever be a time where my identity completely matches up with everyone else in the room. And that's what makes me stronger than before. I can use my different identities and experiences to paint a picture of the life that others may not understand. My different identities are not a source of weakness, are not a mosaic of my life, are not the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. My identities come together to form this great work of art that is not separated into background, middle ground, and foreground. I am one big picture.

I don't have to fit into one category. I should consider myself lucky for being able to "pass" as different identities. I can go back and forth between different worlds, learning from all of them, teaching all of them about my experiences. Instead of viewing my identities as a barrier from one world, I can draw strength from all of them.

March 24, 2012

Feedback

I've always been my own worst enemy. No matter what it is, between academics, my research project, and my social life, I am my biggest critic. Undoubtedly, none of these categories are mutually exclusive, so one fault in an aspect of my life sets of a cascade of terrible feelings that is only amplified; think of a phosphorylation signal cascades in cell signaling, where these are all autocrine signals.

Recently, I've seen myself straying away from the LGBT community here at Duke, and also in general. This is by no means any regards to the community, but rather it's because of how I can easily isolate myself and consume myself in my work. I call this the positive feedback in my life. I am somebody who is extremely Type A personality, and particularly where I've strongly planned out my career path and the road I need to take to get there. I can just shut out the world when it comes to my academic pursuits. So why do I call this positive feedback?

Well first, let me compare it to the negative feedback in my life: relationships. For the past two years or so that I've been on the relationship market, I've been disappointed in myself. When the odds aren't in my favor, I'm easily discouraged. With the attempts I've made at relationships, I've had little to no success, and this haunts me to the day. When I refer to negative feedback, I mean it in the case where I try and resist the stimulus, what has been causing me this pain. A lot of this response is quite sub-conscious, but easily tracked. I've recently been seeing myself spend more time studying and trekking up the hill to spend a lot of time in my research lab, even going to the late hours of the night working on my projects. It's interesting how I can always find time to do these things. And I really enjoy these projects and my studies, but as I dissect it,  I see how it directly impacts my future and I can see the successes along the way, particularly with my grades and data, all very quantitative measures.

But with even more introspection, I can see this as a defense mechanism, avoiding confrontation with my fears and faults for the comfortable things in my life. The positive feedback loops in my life are moving along very well most of the time, but when I hit a snag along the path, I turn around to see where else I've failed. And then I'm stuck in the negative feedback, where my thoughts persist on where I've gone wrong. With this switch in pathways, I try to find the quickest route to the path that has given me the most success, and I usually double my efforts so to stay in the positive loop, because it is more comfortable and successful for me.

Like a cell, I'm waiting for signals, something that lets me know what I need to do in response to stress. I can stick with the autocrine signals that only drive me further into the negative feedback that I can dwell on, or I can wait for paracrine signals from others to guide me in the right direction, but that could still be incorrect for me. Antagonists and inhibitors can provide the wrong signal, or just block the response I'm looking for. I need to reach the growth factors for me to grow, and confront the stimulus in the way that I can deal with the stress.

Feedback loops aren't static. They are dynamic, and always changing to small perturbations. Maybe I'm just waiting for that right signal to come along. But for now, I'll stick with the positive loop.

March 22, 2012

Hold Paramount

Having just recently had the chance to invite the next group of engineers to join Tau Beta Pi, the national engineering honor society, I have been thinking about the Fundamental Canons of the engineering profession. These principles show up in the National Society of Professional Engineers’ Code of Ethics for Engineers, and read as follows:

"Engineers, in the fulfillment of their professional duties, shall:
  1. Hold paramount the safety, health, and welfare of the public.
  2. Perform services only in areas of their competence.
  3. Issue public statements only in an objective and truthful manner.
  4. Act for each employer or client as faithful agents or trustees.
  5. Avoid deceptive acts.
  6. Conduct themselves honorably, responsibly, ethically, and lawfully so as to enhance the honor, reputation, and usefulness of the profession. "
Good stuff, right? I have a feeling someone mooched a bit off an English-major-college-roommate to get all that just right, though the initial form from the fictional “roommate” character was most likely in paragraph form. And iambic pentameter.

The engineer shall strive to do those these things
Which we’ve laid out in gloried detail here
And shall not stray – whilst on the job or not
Else should be lost the post that’s held most dear.

I got to thinking how well these apply – in bullet form, and with some tweaks – to just about everything. As a professor, I can see these applying to the specifics of what I do in the course of fulfilling my responsibilities. I can see these applying very well to the work I did in the Navy and to the work others have done or will do in all branches of the military. And relevant to the current location of the words I write, I can see these applying to being an ally or a member of the LGBTQ community.  For this post, I am going to take on just Canon 1 (after all, I would hate to upstage Pachelbel).

Hold paramount the safety, health, and welfare of the LGBTQ community. Even the order of the words here was chosen with great care. First – the safety. If tragic events over the past too-many years have taught us anything, it is that there are still spaces of high danger for people in the LGBTQ community. Above all else, we must strive to make this school, and this city, and ever-larger circles of influence safe spaces for people to own and express their sexuality without fear. No true progress can be made under the specter of harm. 

Then - Health.  Perhaps half a tick down from safety if one were to construct a kind of Maslow’s Hierarchy of What to Hold Paramount. I think this includes physical health, and emotional health, and spiritual health. This means fighting discriminatory practices in the health and insurance industries. Demanding that resources be directed towards understanding the developmental psychology of people across the sexuality and gender spectra and eliminating any sense of heteronormativity in psychological or psychiatric practice. Creating support structures to heal those who’ve been bullied or otherwise wrongly convinced they are somehow less-than. And within faith communities, refusing to accept when decontextualized and often willfully misinterpreted passages are wielded as blunt instruments to diminish others. 

And finally - Welfare. To borrow from Merriam-Webster, welfare is “the state of doing well especially in respect to good fortune, happiness, well-being, or prosperity.” This state is something that requires a feeling of Safety and possession of Health to fully obtain, but something which is nonetheless the birthright of every person and something we must all work to make available.  The desire to promote the Welfare of members of the LGBTQ community, for example, is where the strongest possible opposition to Amendment One comes into play -- though I suppose it could be argued as well that Amendment One and the cynical and misdirected attack on many people of North Carolina it represents pose a threat to the safety and health of our fellow citizens as well.  On issues such as Amendment One, being an ally means, first, acknowledging privilege and then, second, demanding that said privilege be applied universally. 

As you might imagine, neither of those processes ever really takes place in a vacuum. Along those lines - I was just recently a part of a task force charged with examining the role of the LGBT Center in campus life and looking at how it serves the undergraduate, graduate, alumni, staff, and faculty communities at Duke. All I will say about that is, in being witness to the creation of the final report of the task force, I realized that as thankful as I may have been before for the existence of the Center, and Janie, and Jess, and the support staff, and the student workers, and the student leaders - I didn’t know nearly the half of just how important that space and – more than that – those people are to so many in the extended Duke community. They are working to build – and in some cases, re-build - lives. The resources of the center and the scholarly and vocational attainments of the staff are critical parts of fulfilling Duke’s Mission of…”attending not only to [students’] intellectual growth but also to their development as adults committed to high ethical standards and full participation as leaders in their communities…” 

I better stop there (ask my students – I’m a rambler). Though I have to throw in one last thing - with early decisions out, and with Blue Devil Days and regular decisions fast approaching, I do find myself thinking about the Class of 2016. So to both the prospective future fellow alums and to those of you already here, I will say that from all I have learned over the past year especially, there’s one thing I want you to know. And that is that this is a place with a good many people who are deeply committed to holding paramount your safety, your health, and your welfare as a fundamental canon of being a part of the Duke Family.

March 21, 2012

Kind of a Senior Post; or Who Really Knows Anything, Anyway?


Y’all, I kind of don’t know what to write. I’ve entered that point in the semester where I don’t have enough time to sit down and go over all the things I have to do because I have so many things to do. I know I’m not alone in that – so many of my friends are writing theses, or applying for jobs or study abroad, or rehearsing for recitals, or preparing furiously for yet another round of midterms. (Seriously, though – what is up with multiple midterms? It’s my senior year here and I still don’t understand the point. But I digress.) In addition to all of that, those of us who are nearing graduation are starting to think about what we’ll be doing after college, when we’re not trying desperately to forget that there is life after college.

I actually have it pretty easy: I know that, barring something apocalyptic, I’m going to graduate school next year to eventually earn my PhD. But everything other than that hard fact is in a scary state of flux. I don’t know where I’m going to live – there are no Room Picks for apartments, and I’m not even 100% sure where I’ll be, geographically speaking. I don’t know anybody at any of the schools to which I have applied, and I’ll be leaving most of my friends – and my girlfriend - here in North Carolina (or wherever they’re going after graduation). I don’t even know what my place will be within the LGBTQA community at my future institution. A good deal of my sense of self and personal growth is due to my involvement, however much or little over the years, in Duke’s LGBTQA community. I know where I fit at Duke, and now, just as I’ve gotten comfortable, I must leave to make a new place for myself somewhere else. So, given all of that uncertainty, is it any wonder that I don’t know what to write for this blog?

March 20, 2012

A Proposal

“If things don’t work out with you and L, will you marry me?” W said.

W asked me to marry him if we end up separating from our respective girlfriends. He seemed pretty serious about it, actually. I asked him if he was attracted to me, and he said no. That it was my companionship he valued above all else, and even with his girlfriend. Nonetheless, W identifies himself as straight.

Interestingly, W acknowledged the multi-spectrum interpretation of sexual orientation and sexuality, that orientation can be deconstructed into separate emotional and physical parts. I won’t try to contest or argue what I reacted to as a slightly inconsistent identification as straight given at least one indicator pointing towards bi- or homosexuality. So I’ll only go so far as to use his proposal as a jumping point to think about where I am as a bisexual.

As of now, I think I see males and females equally as companions, but I still find myself checking out somewhat more females than males in a sexual context. Despite this though, I’m equally willing to marry a person of any gender (I honestly haven’t had enough experience with those outside of the male and female boxes to try to claim to be pansexual or otherwise – though in principle, I should be one). Given these parameters, I identify most with the description of a bisexual, and I don’t see this changing any time soon.

The next goal for me is to come out to my parents and to my roommate, if he hasn’t figured it out already, since a number of laziness-related excuses have prevented these things to happen. However, I think more than ever before, I’ve felt more legitimate about my bisexuality and the way I see others sexually and romantically.

In any case, W and I registered to vote in North Carolina – we’ve agreed that we’re going to spread Santorum!

March 19, 2012

Anonymous Posts (3.13.12-3.19.12)

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. :)

So...March Madness is upon us. And depending on if you follow teams other than Duke and tournaments other than the men's (which you should)...we're still going! #DWB4LYFE (copyright DW and DUMB).

In other news, Duke celebrated Holi on Friday and it was colorful and great. And Durham celebrated the one year anniversary of "Marry Durham," which was fabulous and very LGBTQ and Allied and full of great signs like "If the Amendment Passes, I couldn't Marry Durham."

Also...tomorrow night is the Our Lives Discussion Group at 6pm! All students--LGBTQQ and Allies are welcome! And don't forget that Blue Devils United is having elections for the 2012-2013 executive board on Wednesday! 6pm! Be there. Run for stuff. Vote. Yay!

In other other news...notes from OC!

#1
I'm kinda closeted, but i kinda this guy is cute and seems cool... one problem... i've never actually met him and he is a year older.. i'd go up and introduce myself, but what kind of person does that so randomly? what do i do?!

#2
I just want to come out to all my friends that I'm straight. I'm pretty sure no one ever really thought I was gay but the way I acted, it was probably confusing. At first it felt like the strong bond that the LGBT community has was only for people who are gay or questioning so I pretended that I am just to fit in. The way I am, if someone assumes something about me, I usually pretend that I am just to avoid any awkwardness so that also contributed to the confusion. I wonder if there is a line that allies shouldn't cross at the center. Maybe the faculty reception is only for out people or WLW and M2M really has no place for someone who just wants to hang out and make friends. As an ally, there's always a question of how much involvement is appropriate or how much am I apart of the community. There's a friend that I really need to come out to because he's convinced (by me) that I'm gay. But before I do that, I guess it's just an anonymous coming out.

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).

March 17, 2012

The Other Side Of Me

"AJ, you really shouldn't do that. That's not really you. You're just playing that role."- Me to myself several times a day.

I struggle with the more feminine aspects of my personality. It's been a struggle for me for as long as I can remember. I identify as a man and embrace my masculinity. It's one of the aspects about me, that is me. I am masculine (What that actually means is a subject for an in-depth discussion so I can't really answer that right now, so just bear with me).

But I've been learning more about myself. I'm also feminine. I have feminine qualities that kind of play a balancing act with my masculine qualities, both parts always trying to reach equilibrium. This didn't bother me for a while because the masculine side always managed to keep the scale tipped in its favor. However, lately, I've found that the feminine side seems to be a little bit more in control. And it kind of scares me.
It scares me that it scares me. My fear or apprehension over this slightly more feminine personality only highlights that I'm not as comfortable with my sexuality as I like to believe. It means that I'm still dealing with my own internal homophobia. I can't shake the fact that while I am openly gay, my more masculine image makes me different than other gay males. It makes me "not THAT kind of gay." And you know what? I've always enjoyed that.

I've always found comfort in being able to identify as gay but somehow keep some distance between the image I have of myself and those who are more flamboyant. It's a fine line to walk. I see absolutely nothing wrong with those men who are more flamboyantly gay. They're more courageous than I could ever be. It's enough of a task just for me to be able to openly admit that I'm gay despite being able to "pass" as straight. It somehow made me feel better that I could walk in a mass of people and not be immediately singled out as the gay one.

I keep hearing my mom's voice in my head anytime we passed someone that was flamboyantly gay: "God bless them. They're sick, twisted people bound for hell if they don't repent." I always knew that gay was bad but somehow, flamboyantly gay became worse. I've always thought that being flamboyant was just not a part of me and tried to squash any signs of it. That's not who I am. That's not what I do.

I was wrong. Maybe it is part of me and there's nothing wrong with that. I should express myself however I feel fit. I'm trying to come to terms with both sides of myself, trying to reconcile the reality of who I am with the image of who I think I am. It's not easy, but I'm trying.

March 16, 2012

Crying Victim

The congressional debate over women’s reproductive rights has highlighted a recent shift in conservative rhetoric that has worked surprisingly well. This is the clever new tactic of playing the victim. I’ve wondered for a while why this strategy is working so well, and I can only think of one more I’m not questioning why people who already agree with the hyper-conservative opinions on these issues fancy the rhetoric, I’m just curious how that rhetoric sways moderates. The rhetorical shift I’m referring to is the new strategy of twisting issues where the goal is to undermine minority rights into issues about a lack of respect for their beliefs. Essentially, playing the victim. To use the example of contraception, those opposing the right of women to have coverage for birth control call it an attack on their religious liberty, and dub it a war on religion and so forth. The only reason I can think that this strategy works is that we as a people do not have an adequate understanding of privilege.

I think it’s an important thing for us as a culture to learn how privilege works. When a group is institutionally elevated above others; that is privilege. I’m sure most people reading this have heard this before, but I just wanted to be really clear. I actually think the rhetorical shift is a good thing. What it indicates is that privilege is starting to slip. As privileged groups like Christians, men, whites, and heterosexuals start to lose some of the privileges they’ve grown accustomed to, they see it as an attack on their liberty. That’s probably because once a privileged group gets used to a privilege, they start to see it as a right. So let’s be absolutely clear, constitutionally every person has the right to their personal beliefs unless their beliefs involve restricting the liberty of others. So now that we’ve got the basics of how the constitution works when it comes to civil liberties, maybe we can get on to same sex marriage…

As a note, I kept my definition of privilege deliberately short to show how simple it really is.

March 15, 2012

Because I'm Sure We've All Gone Through This

I have such awesome friends at this university. They come from all over the world and have such different life experiences from mine-I can’t say I’ve ever been to Panama or know anything about the Chinese language. I can’t do karate, and I could never hope to be as good a pianist as one of my friends. I like them all, and can’t imagine life without some of them. One in particular is a friend that always seems to wind up doing everything with me. I swear, it’s like we share a brain. We complete each other’s sentences (and know what the other is trying to say with her mouth full), have the same sense of humor, and like pretty much all the same things. We take similar classes, and detest similar stuff. And, it seems that we’re both braver on the internet than we are in real life.

Since it seems I can speak freer through a text or post than I can in real life, I think I’ll get out a secret of mine that has been bugging me for a while now. I’ve had to work up to this point. Well, my mantra is “Do something every day that scares you,” and this is definitely scary for me. Ready? Cue deep breath on my behalf, even though I’m typing this…

I think (I’m not totally sure) that I might (but I don’t know, since I’ve never dated) prefer (well, most of the time I think so) women (though I still think some guys are hot!)

Notice all the contradictions in that sentence? You can see that I’m still figuring this out. It feels like I could swing either way, depending on the hour, but there are some things about relationships in general that I can’t reconcile myself with. It’s…confusing, to say the least.

Contrary to what it might seem like, some of my friends have known about this highly confused side of me for a while now. Three of them, to be precise…and all of them are friends I could trust with the contents of my wallet. But there are some friends I haven’t told…some I haven’t told since I don’t know how they’d react, though a gut feeling tells me it would be a negative reaction. Some I haven’t told for the sake of convenience-they might not get how I feel, and I’m not sure some would even pay attention long enough to get past that sentence sans parenthetical comments. And some others I haven’t told because it’s my personal policy not to trust them with anything since I know I can’t do that.

So, it might come as a surprise that I haven’t told that awesome friend I talked about earlier about any of this. To be honest, I didn’t know what to say to her. Before, we’ve made jokes about being a couple or going on dates, since it seems like that whenever we’re with a group of people going somewhere, we inevitably wind up sitting together or doing the same thing. I have, before, reciprocated with those jokes, since they were sort of funny and completely in the moment. Many of those were also made before I came to this conclusion. And I’m thinking that if she had ANY idea, she’d freak out.

But, I think in some ways, she deserves to know about this. I trust all my other friends-why not her? I know I can depend on her for anything at all, and I’m pretty sure that she wouldn’t think of me differently…well, about 99% sure, but I’ve decided that if she won’t be my friend anymore because of this, she was never my friend to begin with. So I’m going to take my chances by posting the above statements and say this: close friend who completes all of my sentences and has a thing for rage comics, you know who you are. If you’re reading this, consider this me telling you something that I should have told you a long time ago. I’m not entirely sure what it means, but I hope you can help me figure it out.

After all, you do have the other half of my brain.

March 14, 2012

Playing Along

Recently, some friends and I played a game after an evening out. The game – to sit in a chair in the middle of the room and name the person in the room that we would most like to see naked. Wow. It was awkward to say the least. The company that evening included several close friends, a few ‘good’ friends, and then some general friends. I’m fairly certain that everyone in the room knows that I’m gay, but still when it came my turn I had an extremely awkward moment. I sat there thinking, thinking about how uncomfortable it would be to call out the name of a straight male in the room - uncomfortable for me, uncomfortable for him, uncomfortable for the entire room. So I shrugged and named a female.

The fact that I wasn’t able (or willing) to express my true feelings in front of a group that I consider to hold of my closest friends really made me think about some things. I was really disappointed afterwards, but I’m not sure if I was disappointed in myself or in my friends for playing the game in the first place. The game was a bit vulgar, but maybe it is my fault; maybe I should have been comfortable enough with my identity to say a man’s name. On the other hand, maybe I am underestimating my friends; if so, I feel bad for not trusting them. I guess even though I’m mostly comfortable with people knowing that I’m gay, it is a completely different story when I’m forced to admit things in a public setting like that.

We all know that rejection really sucks, especially by close friends, but don’t do what I did. Don’t sell yourself short, and, more importantly, don’t sell your friendships short by not trusting your friends to be supportive. No, I don’t suggest you tell straight boys you want to see them naked, but maybe, just maybe, trusting yourself to trust others would leave you better off. Shakespeare once said, 'Expectation is the root of all heartache." Whatever you do, don't expect the worst, especially from your friends. I expected my friends to react negatively if I told the truth, but I now know I wish I had said something else that evening, I don’t know what, but something else. I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m a bit tired of playing along.

March 13, 2012

Why Sexualilty Studies Matter

[Editor's Note: Earlier this year, we announced that we would be including faculty voices on the blog. We've been fortunate to have Dr. G contribute several posts over the year, and we are thrilled to introduce you to our newest and first "out" faculty blog writer, Dr. Ara Wilson. Stay tuned for more faculty posts before the end of the year!]

Given my position as a faculty member at Duke, not only a queer faculty member but also the director of the program in the study of sexualities, it is my duty to write about knowledge. Often when we talk about sexuality or lgbt issues in the university, we do so without noticing the location, as an institution dedicated to knowledge production. I think this misses out on the particular nature of the university and particularly when that university hosts a free-standing academic program focused on sexuality. Very few colleges can say that.

Duke’s program in the study of sexualities has a longer history, dating to gay and lesbian faculty interest in the 1990s. Somewhere along the way efforts, the program’s title evolved into the current, lower-case form. In 2006, Duke hired a professor to develop a skeletal set-up into a functional certificate program. The program at Duke is for now anchored in the certificate program, the curriculum of six courses that end with a capstone in Queer Theory. But really the program is larger than the institutional form of the certificate program. The SXL program reaches many students through the four or so courses we offer each semester, which range from Primate Sexuality to the Dr. Janie Long’s popular seminar on Clinical Issues for LGBTQ to seminars on race and sexuality. It also offers a regular slate of programming, including a series co-sponsored with the LGBT Center called Profiles in Sexuality Research that showcases Duke faculty research from such fields as Economics, the Medical School, African and African American Studies, and Evolutionary Anthropology. SXL also holds an annual queer theory lecture. This year’s lecture is by Tim Dean, the author of a controversial book on the subculture of barebacking.


Rather than tell you everything the SXL program does, though-–you can find that on our handsome website--I want to invite reflection on the place of all sorts of knowledge that are relevant to non-normative sexual and gender lives. How do we know what we know about sexual orientation? Where does the knowledge come from? The scholarship of faculty working on queer issues, like Antonio Viego, Robyn Wiegman, or Sean Metzger, offers a mode of knowledge that falls under the category of critical theory, which essentially means a knowledge that examines received categories, including the categories used in the LGBT world. Studies in neuropsychology or evolutionary anthropology will emphasize biological dimensions of sexuality. These two domains, of critical queer theory and biological frameworks, hold starkly different views of what human sexuality is. But in truth, most people do not get their everyday working sense of sexuality from coursework even if they were not subject to an abstinence-only education in high school. Most people draw on a kind of folk knowledge of sexuality, an amalgam of popular science, currents in thinking, and the idioms available to frame their own experience.

The point of having a program dedicated to the study of sexuality is not only to provide institutional space to learn about academic scholarship on the issue but also more generally, to recognize the significance of knowledge itself for queer life and sexuality in general. After all, the knowledge of experts in religion or psychiatry were key to shaping Western societies’ view of homosexuality. Of course we may think some knowledge about sexuality is truer or more liberating or politically more effective than other versions (I know I do). But beyond questions of true or false, liberal or conservative, it is worth recognizing that the domain of knowledge has a powerful influence on how we understand our own erotic life and the place of alternative sex/gender expressions in society.

March 12, 2012

Anonymous Posts (3.5.12-3.12.12)

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. :)

Hopefully everyone made it back to campus safe and sound and that everyone enjoyed their break. We had a great week here on the blog, starting with AJ's post last Friday about Shooters. The weekend saw Julian blog about gaydar, and on Monday we had regularly scheduled anonymous posts that you won't want to miss. Throughout the week, Shane questioned what Love=Love really means; Kyle introduced us to international LGBTQ icon Stephen Fry; Lawrence reflected on the time and energy it takes to navigate college as a queer and trans identified person; Pruitt shared his personal story as a survivor of sexual assault, and Logan explains why coming out matters in light of Amendment One.

Suffice to say, the blog had a great break. But we know breaks aren't always so relaxing for everyone in the LGBTQ community. If that's you and you need someone to talk to, we invite you to reach out to the resources at the bottom of this post. If you have a story you'd like to share more publicly, consider submitting an anonymous post.

Now, notes from OC!

#1
Interesting....

#2
So I asked about a gay club to take my friend to a while ago. We did end up going to Legends and it was amazing, so thanks for the tip! I awkwardly got a girl's number for the first time. Well rather I was so awkward that she asked if she could give me her number. The girl wasn't exactly my type, I didn't really feel a connection and I'll probably never text her (am I horrible for this?), but the whole interaction just made me feel...I don't know... validated as a gay woman. I finally got to act like my friends act at shooters, I didn't have to be crazy drunk to want to dance and I wasn't ready to go home 15 min after we got there. I just wish the school year wasn't ending so soon, I'm only just beginning to come out and that certainly won't fly at home.


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).

March 11, 2012

Obligations


Does it matter if people know that I’m gay?

It shouldn’t, right? I mean, I’m just a person who happens to be attracted to women. That fact doesn’t usually influence the lives of the people I interact with on a daily basis. Besides, the majority of people—straight people, that is—never have to declare their sexuality. It’s just irrelevant in most situations. My sexuality is really no one’s business but my own, right?

I’ll be starting a new job soon. That means a new boss and new coworkers that I potentially have to come out to. I’ve been wondering how important it is that they know I’m gay. Sure, it would be nice to avoid a lot of awkward conversations or questions about whether or not I have a boyfriend if they just knew up front that I date women. But then again, why should I be obligated to share this really personal aspect of my life as soon as I meet anyone new? Who I date has no bearing on my professional life, so unless I get to be good friends with my new coworkers I’m not sure if there’s a reason for them to know.

But it does matter if they know. Because them not knowing really just means that I’m allowing them to assume that I’m straight. Which isn’t true. My silence would be almost the same thing as denying my sexuality—denying a big part of who I am.

And I am not ashamed of who I am. So, no, I won’t let them just assume that I’m straight.

But back to the question: does it matter if people know that I’m gay? What difference does it make for people to see me and know that I’m gay? This is the difference: Every coworker, classmate, friend, or family member who knows that I am gay is one more person who will have to think twice about voting to take away the rights of their coworker, classmate, friend, or family member. I may be a part of a minority, but we are by no means a minority living in a bubble. You see that majority that gets to vote on the rights of a minority? Don’t let them live in a bubble.

March 10, 2012

Faith, Firsts, and the Quiet Motions of the Holy Ghost

Today, I can only remember a handful of the details from my first sexual experience. I remember, for example, saying “no.” I remember a hand put over my mouth after I yelped in pain. I remember how my first kiss involved teeth, breath, and my ear while my head was held down. I remember shaking a great deal. Fifteen minutes, tops. Eyes down, wash hands. Apologize for something, stutter. Run.

Now, I’m not telling this story to get it out of my system, or to one-up someone in the arms race of oppression, or to raise awareness about sexual assault. The women down at the Develle Dish are already working fairly hard at an awareness campaign, and I recognize that my male privilege might be one of the only reasons I can write this post with my name attached. See, believe it or not, I’m not here to talk about sexual assault: I’m here to talk about religion.

I get questions about my faith a lot. This is probably because it baffles people. Queer folk of faith are uncommon enough, but converting after coming out is practically unheard of. I grew up as a hard-line atheist in a town so pious that even some of my teachers harassed me for my beliefs. Like many artsy, nerdy kids in the early teens, I started studying and loosely identifying as Buddhist. If that’s not enough, I’m crass. I’m debaucherous. I’m cynical. I’m occasionally blasphemous. Yet, during the Easter Vigil at the chapel my freshman year, I still stood up in front of everyone and, wearing a suit and baptismal robes, I officially converted to Catholicism.

When people ask me what caused me to convert, there’s a handful of lines I tend to feed them. Sometimes I’ll contrast it with other religions (notably Buddhism) as one of the few that explicitly celebrates life and humanity. Other days, I might talk about the beauty in the notion that an unwed teen mother was the only human born without sin. If I’m talking with a friend who knows that I have difficulty swallowing the supernatural, I talk about the value in identifying with a cultural and moral superstructure. I make it all sound very academic.

In addition to being cynical, crass, and debaucherous, though, I’m also a liar. I know the exact moment and reason I became religious. As you might expect, this brings us back to our story. I was assaulted on a weekday around lunch time. I still had to get through the rest of the afternoon as if nothing was wrong. I wore my hoodie slung low over my eyes. I avoided making any eye contact or walking near anyone. Part of this was to avoid having to talk. More than that, though, I felt somehow certain that if I got close enough to anyone they would surely smell something wrong with me. If dogs can smell fear, it seemed to make sense that students could smell shame. Or maybe smell sweat on my clothes, see dried spit on my face. Maybe smell another body. The blood.

Eventually, sulking and sagging, I made it back to my room. I docked my iPhone, turned on some music, and sank into a puddle leaning against my bed. Even today, I admit that I rarely ever pray, and when I do, only in celebration. I pray in museums, or during the sprint at the last leg of a run, or when I find someone beautiful and naked sleeping next to me. Before this day, though, I never bowed my head or bent my knee. If I wanted to talk, I talked to a human being. If I needed help, I asked it from someone with a physical body. But at the moment I didn’t have anyone I wanted to talk to, and there wasn’t much any human being could do to help.

So I prayed. It wasn’t as eloquent as Christ on the Mount, or as beautiful as the song from within Nebuchadnezzar’s furnace, but I imagine it was at least sincere. I asked to no longer be attracted to men. I asked to forget. I probably asked to die. None of my prayers were answered. But, like any good student in the South, I had read a lot of Flannery O’Connor: I knew what it was supposed to feel like when the eye of God was staring directly at you. For the first time since lunch, I stopped shaking. My mind was still racing and raving, yet my body slowed and matched itself to a different heartbeat. Even today, I will swear that I felt the breath of the Spirit against my neck. So, at 4:00 p.m., I climbed into my bed. I cried a moment and fell asleep. I did not dream. I woke the next morning.

It was a small miracle, granted. My life wasn’t any less miserable. It didn’t heal any trauma or keep me from fearing sex for over a year. But, I lived. A few months later, I started attending church on my own. It confused people. My mother made sure to remind me that the Vatican wasn’t historically fond of queer men, but otherwise people kept their opinions to themselves. Eventually, during my initiation years later, I had to speak with a priest concerning my faith and motivations to join the Church. I don’t fully remember the conversation, but I know I struggled with the point. I couldn’t figure out how to explain that I still had too much doubt in salvation for it to be a purely selfish venture for me. I couldn’t figure out how to explain the words “He was a good listener one day--I owe Him one.”

March 9, 2012

In which I habitually overload

This is my last semester at Duke, finally. I matriculated in 2007 but then took a year of medical leave, so it feels like I've been here forever. And yet I feel like I've hardly done anything.

I definitely feel like I've been busy my whole time at work, never enough hours in the day to get my work done. I've had a full course load every semester, and I've been working on an honors thesis for nearly a year. I'm a member of a Greek organization; even if I'm not the most active brother in the world, I hold an officer position. And I've been working ten hours a week at my job for two years. But I feel like at Duke, this is just average -- I feel like I should be able to squeeze in at least one more thing on that list.

There are a lot of things that I love to do, that I wish I'd been involved in throughout my Duke career -- I could have continued doing graphic design at the Chronicle, or I could have stopped by my scholarship office twice a week for the visiting lecturers and the brownies, or I could have edited a student publication, or gotten my own writing published, or actually attended more than three total BDU meetings in my life. These are all things that I would have enjoyed, that would have helped make my life more like the kind of life I want to live.

Instead, my biggest extracurricular is "stressing over LGBT issues." Not advocating for LGBT issues, or raising awareness, or anything externally productive -- just the internal emotional stress of navigating the world as both trans and queer.

It's a little like the 'second shift' a lot of women have to cope with -- when they go through their normal workday and come home exhausted, only to have an entire second workload of childcare, housekeeping, cooking, scheduling, etc. dumped on them without pay or acknowledgement. Except, I only wish this stuff happened in a separate shift. Instead, it's happening right at the same time as everything else I'm doing, like when somebody says something in class that totally freaks me out.

Managing my freak-out so as not to disrupt the class is work. I mentioned to a friend today that being LGBT sometimes felt like an extra class I was taking, making every semester an overload without even the advantage of getting an A at the end of the semester, and she asked me what took so much time. My first response was to complain about all the time I spend at the Duke Hospital dealing with my endocrinologist, but this is part of the answer too -- navigating the world while LGBT requires extra emotional work, which has an opportunity cost. Any time I spend dealing with a freak-out is time I can't spend listening to my professor, or taking notes, or thinking about what I want to have for lunch. Either I do those things later, taking time away from sleep and relaxation, or I don't do those things at all.

Similarly, every hour I spend arguing with my parents -- that's an hour that a non-trans alternate universe version of myself was able to spend reading a book for fun. Also: talking to friends about arguing with my parents. Doing research. Crafting extra versions of my resume to give me options in outing myself. Long coming-out conversations. Some mornings, I even resent the time it takes to take my T and bind; all I can think is that the time I spend applying gel and waiting for it to dry every day, is time I could have spent doing anything else.

Now, I have my life running fairly smoothly now. I doubt I've spent more than a few hours total this whole semester dealing with this stuff. But I have surgery in my future, which is time and money a cis guy could spend going on vacations. Not to mention the fact that my entire gap year is 100% happening so I'll have time for that surgery, and otherwise I'd be going to grad school. And the medical leave I took freshman year-- that was crisis of identity that consumed my life for an entire year an a half. A non-LGBT version of myself would have been allowed to go to Oxford that summer.

I don't necessarily regret all of these opportunity costs. I don't think I'd be the person I am if I hadn't had those experiences, especially the year off. I made it to Oxford eventually, and I find time for all of the most important things in my life. But I feel like this kind of emotional work can lead to a more subtle kind of discrimination against LGBT individuals: if we have to spend a lot of time and energy just dealing with the basics, we're at a disadvantage when compared to people who didn't have the same distractions. My resume, quite frankly, doesn't look as good as the resumes of my straight, cis peers.

I still kick ass, so I'm not too worried. But it makes me think about what a better world would really look like, and makes me wish I had time for just one more thing so I could make that world happen.

March 8, 2012

LGBT Icon: Stephen Fry

So I’m going to take some inspiration from another blogger who recently wrote a post on a queer role model. Introducing the British National Treasure, Stephen Fry. (For the record, they actually do call him that). Stephen is well known in the UK and around the world for his masterful wit and for his talents across a great many fields. He also has quite the interesting story in his background. He came from a well off family, and went to two preparatory schools, both of which he was kicked out of. Despite this, he was well known for his far above average intellect in both of these schools, and was eventually arrested for stealing a credit card from a family friend. After serving three months in prison, he went to City College Norwhich. While there he took the Cambridge entrance exams, and got a scholarship due to his high marks. Cambridge is where his career truly started.

While at Cambridge he joined the Cambridge Footlights, a comedy organization which has produced many of the well-known British comics. (Some of these being Graham Chapman, John Cleese, David Mitchell, and Robert Webb, to name a few) Cambridge Footlights was where he met his future comedy partner, Hugh Laurie. You may know him from “House”. Well, they went on to make a TV show called “A Bit of Fry and Laurie”. The show was a sketch show that aired in the ‘80s on which Laurie frequently played an idiot and Fry a more academic man with horrible taste in ties. The show was well received and Fry has since gone on to do a great many things. I can’t list all of the things he has been a part of here, but he has been in many comedy shows, stage dramas, made documentaries, made radio programs, written plays, been in movies, written novels, hosted TV shows, and more. He is a very busy man.

I suppose what I like most about him is that he’s witty, charming, and is a very inspiring role model to look up to from a queer perspective. He is one of the most popular celebrities in Britain, and he is openly gay. Not just that, but he strikes a very unique balance with talking about it. He doesn’t avoid the topic, but it just doesn’t seem like a very big deal. More than that, people who would normally be perfectly fine with saying homophobic things won’t do it around him. In fact, they become remarkably affirming around him. He is simply a very good influence and I highly recommend you look up some of his work. Any kind will do.

Bye now. (Oh and the one on the right is Hugh Laurie)

March 7, 2012

What do we mean by Love(=Love)?


In the LGBT community, we love the phrase Love=Love. It’s plastered everywhere—from outside the Center to shirts we distribute to the entire campus. But I can’t help but wonder what message people are actually receiving. After all, Love=Love seems to be more than just a trivial tautology, else there would simply be no point.

While loveis an unfortunately vague and overused word in the English language (e.g. Mean Girls),judging by the art on the T-shirt, which includes gay and straight couples holding hands, I don’t think we’re talking about my love for Italian food or God’s love for humanity. We seem to be talking specifically about romantic love, and I think most people interpret the shirt as meaning gay/lesbian romantic love=straight romantic love.

That seems simple enough. However I think that many people, upon seeing this shirt, draw more than this. Consider the application of this to political rights, where we might want to say gay romantic love=straight romantic love, therefore gay marriage. However, the only rights that we can really derive from the statement gay romantic love=straight romantic love are those which are guaranteed solely in virtue of romantic love. And, thus, I am left asking what does romantic love in and of itself entail.

I feel that in our culture we are taught that love justifies pretty much anything (note how we’ve lost the “romantic” part--though it's still implied). While the hopeless romantic in me loves Disney movies, there is a recurring message that love solves everything; Hercules literally becomes a god through romantic love. Or what about romantic comedies, such as Made of Honor, in which Patrick Dempsey does everything he can to break up his best friend’s wedding because he is “in love”with her? Made of Honor ends up with Patrick Dempsey happily on his honey moon with his now-wife. No regrets. No mention of the now-ex-fianc√© who was literally rejected at the altar.

How often dowe try to use love to justify things we normally would never even consider? How many times have you seen your friend, once they have a boyfriend or girlfriend, disappear from your life to spend all their time with their boy/girlfriend—previous plans discarded? I once was told not to date during my Freshman year, because apparently love demands me to sacrifice my grades despite my education’s $59,900/year price tag. And sometimes, romantic love apparently demands we even violate others ’rights—what is it we say about those we love? That for him/her, we’d let the world burn? Dante once wrote,
“People in love cannot be moved by kindness,
and opposition makes them feel like martyrs.”
Once we are in love, we appeal to love to ignore the normal rules of kindness, and we start sacrificing others in devotion to love, and we hold ourselves up as somehow sanctified by our sacrifice. We start feeling not only justified in our actions by romantic love, but entitled through it.

And so we return to my original question—what we can derive from romantic love? It is so tempting for those fighting for LGBT rights to equivocate on romantic love and capitalize on the cultural primacy of love to try. Love=Love √†{Rights} without clearly establishing what rights romantic love can actually give. Turning romantic love into rhetoric, however, makes us lose sight of how beautiful and valuable romantic love itself is. We must return to ask what exactly love is, and in determining what romantic love is—and is not—I suspect we will find it to be more than we even wanted it to be, even if not in the way we originally thought.

We consider ourselves a loving and accepting community, so let us figure out what we mean when we say that. Let us explore what love actually means.

March 6, 2012

You Can Play

As anonymous post #3 from yesterday pointed out, the NHL joined the fight this past weekend to end homophobia in sports. The “You Can Play” campaign launched its first public service announcement during NHL games this past weekend. The campaign was established by Brian Burke (Toronto’s GM) and Patrick Burke (his son and scout for Philly) in an effort to continue the work of their son and openly gay brother, Brendan, who was killed in a car accident two years ago. The first ad features eight current NHL players and apparently over thirty NHL players have signed on to work with the project. Def worth a minute of your time to check it out.



As I was checking up on other efforts to combat homophobia in hockey and sports (because that is how everyone spends their spring break), I encountered a pretty inspiring and cool story of a high school hockey player coming out to his family, teammates, and classmates.
the link has been taken down because the player was a minor, but all over the interwebs you can find stories of younger athletes coming out and being accepted by their peers.

Anytime you can place the weight of Henrik Lundqvist and Daniel Alfredsson behind a cause, you can deliver a powerful message. Everyone always complains how homophobia can only be wiped out if an all star comes out and can be more or less a poster child. However, maybe attitudes are changing enough that instead of waiting for current athletes to come out, a generation of already out athletes will come on to the scene. This perspective enables us to be active agents for change to make schools more accepting places, rather than sitting around and waiting for others to lead the way.

March 5, 2012

Anonymous Posts (2.28.12-3.4.12)

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. :)

So, it's spring break! Congrats on making it to this point in the semester. Be sure to b r e a t h e and enjoy yourself! Most people have left campus by now, unless you're like me and spending it catching up on and getting ahead on work.

It wasn't a good weekend for Duke Basketball, to say the least. The women lost their first game in the ACC Tournament for the first time in 18 years (2015ers, you weren't even born yet!). And the men, well, we all know what happened. BUT! All is not lost. See, Coach P, an outspoken LGBTQ Ally, won ACC Coach of the year. And, Duke still beat UNC by an average of over 7 points (across both teams, that is...#DWB4LYFE). AND better yet, GLBTSA and BDU are still tight as ever and only going to grow together at the leadership retreat in two weekends. Take that, Tobacco Road Rivalry!

Be sure to check the blog EVERYDAY over break because we've got content scheduled for you all.week.long. Also, we know that breaks aren't easy for everyone. So if that is you, know that the Center has regular hours all week, and that there are resources available to you (see the bottom of this post).

Now, for notes from OC:

#1
What is going on in terms of action against amendment 1? Is there anything in the works to raise awareness and inform duke voters?

#2
She's gonna be in chapel hill on march 21...someone find me, out me and go with me!

#3
VERY cool! This was on TV this weekend during the NHL games.

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).

March 4, 2012

Nice guys showing up on the gaydar

My friend T is a “nice guy.” And I mean that without any of the not-as-good connotations it might have (see Develle Dish’s controversial post, “Dear Duke Guys…”). T fancied a girl Ample Cushion (mind you, this is a reference to the amount of space you have in a car to travel if an accident occurs, which is why small cars can be so dangerous).

T took AC to dinner and baked her biscuits. But she said she didn’t want a relationship, so she friendzoned him by telling him that she didn’t want a relationship at this time even before he asked her to be his girlfriend. This sent T into a questioning fit, that search for explanations through questions that don’t really have answers. I liken this to a microcosm of the grief cycle, in which we blame ourselves more than we need to. It can very much be applied to college apps, I might add. “Am I not doing the right things?” “Why don’t they like me?”

T asked all the archetypical questions, culminating in this one: “Is it because I seem gay?”

The rest of this blog post will attempt to address this question as I did when we were talking about this. What makes T seem “gay”? He’s a hugger, wears purple a lot, and has many female friends. In other words, he vaguely fits the stereotype for a gay person – lukewarm flaming, perhaps? I obviously let him off the hook for asking such a charged question in his emotional down-time, but this is an example of a rather irrational fear of being perceived as gay (or another sexual orientation that precludes a relationship). For one thing, this shouldn’t even be an issue given open communication. Moreover, this is analogous to thinking a Duke student hates Duke because they’re wearing an Alabama shirt (okay, they probably do). But I think we should ask ourselves, “What is it that should actually set off my gaydar?”

Nothing but the words, “I’m gay.”

I would argue gay and queer cultures exist as something distinct and somewhat nested in sexual orientations themselves. Gay pride and the culture that has since developed among the LGBT community is something that originated through the common resistance to the divisions and prejudices of mainstream society. I am not against the LGBT community’s existence, but I believe that as a result of mass media underrepresentation and a need for more progress to social equality, we have internalized stereotypes of queer culture to the point that we are still making too many assumptions about what is gay or not.

March 2, 2012

These Are My Confessions

Well, it's only actually one confession but I didn't think that making it singular had the same ring to it.

Anyway, here we go. *deep breath*

I LOVE SHOOTERS!

Phew. That was a big weight off my shoulders. Why? Why is it such a big deal for me to love Shooters II?

It's quite simple. The negative stigma around the place is just all wrong. (Well, not ALL wrong. It's not the classiest or cleanest establishment, but when the place is packed with hundreds of inebriated college students every weekend, it's kind of hard to keep it in tip-top condition.)

And I feel that many queer folks look at Shooters as though it's "Straightland" or for heterosexuals only. Many fear being ridiculed or physically assaulted for dancing with someone of the same sex. A D-floor makeout with two guys?! Someone get them out of here! Right?

Well, my friends, I'm here today to let you know that it is not true at all. Take it from someone that has done everything from dancing with a guy in the middle of the dance floor, on the bar, AND in the cage or had a very aggressive dance floor makeout with another guy. I originally was expecting one of those awkward moments in the movies where the music comes to a screeching halt and all eyes are fixated on somebody in the middle of the room. I was expecting looks of death so strong that Death himself would die again. I was just waiting for one of the bouncers to come up to us and tell us we had to leave. I was listening to the music but for the sound of someone yelling the F-bomb. But here's what really happened:

ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.

Everyone else around us continued dancing and enjoying their nights. The music continued playing. No security guy dragged us out. There were no obscenities yelled. This may be strange but that was one of the happiest moments of my life. I had just made out with the guy in the dead middle of a "straight", western-themed club and not a single thing happened.

I felt normal. I felt like this thing that I had been making such a big deal about didn't amount to a hill of beans. My sexuality didn't matter. No one cared what my sexuality was. All that mattered was that I was having a good time.

However, I understand the argument that some queer people may not like Shooters because they have no chance of going home with someone. Well, that's not always true. Are the chances of going home with somebody slimmer than at a gay bar? Yeah, sure but those chances are not non-existent. When you get hundreds of people in one area together, there's always a chance. Also, I know that I've learned to stop going out with the intent of finding someone to go home with that night. I've noticed that on those nights when I'm searching for a hookup, I don't have fun. My focus is on getting laid and not enjoying the night. And when searching for a hookup inevitably fails, I end up being pissed at the world and society for creating these impossible qualities that people look for in men. I usually end up having some big emotional breakdown and criticizing every little feature of my body.

So, I learned to just go out and have fun. If a hookup happens, then it happens. If not, oh well, I still had a blast with awesome people. That's how I learned to love Shooters. I don't look for hookups. I look for friends to hang out with. I look for people that I haven't seen in a long time so I can reconnect with them. I go and say hi to my favorite bartender. I celebrate my last year of college and all of the amazing friends I have. That's why I love Shooters.

Also, it's easier to get to and cheaper than other gay bars. #brokecollegestudentproblems

So, I beg of you. If you have any negative stereotypes about Shooters and haven't given it a chance, please do. Get a group of your best friends together and go. Form your own little dance group and dance the night away. Run into that random person from that class you hate and bond over it. Bump into the guy from your first-year hallway and see how he's doing. Climb up on that bar and fist pump like The Situation. And, above all else, RIDE THE BULL!