“Of course she’s gay! I would know – I have great
In retrospect, all I can say is that I tried. I
tried to tell my friend (for the sake of anonymity let’s call her Ana) that the
girl she was about to approach was openly heterosexual. I tried to convince her
that her flirtatious advances would be misinterpreted. I tried. But following
the above statement, I realized I could do nothing but sit back and watch as my
overly confident friend tried desperately to seduce a short-haired straight
girl over a casual Marketplace dinner. The majority of the conversation was
surprisingly free of awkwardness; that is until the very end when the girl
(let’s call her Sarah) realized that Ana’s definition of “Will you tutor me in
Chemistry?” was probably very different than her own. Upon discovering Ana’s amorous
hidden motive, Sarah became apologetically embarrassed and blurted out that she
was not under any circumstances interested in girls. Out of pure curiosity, I pulled
Sarah aside after dinner and inquired on whether the previous misunderstanding
was a common one for her. Smiling, she pointed to her hair and said that with a
haircut like that, what did she expect?
Obviously this was not the first time someone had
mistaken Sarah’s sexual orientation based on her physical presentation. Ana
later told me that her gaydar is usually not that far off, and it got me
thinking, what exactly are we saying when we refer to “gaydar?” The term is
used by people inside and outside of the LGBTQ community everyday as a
colloquialism used to refer to one’s ability to recognize another’s sexual
orientation simply through observation. The idea here is that having “good
gaydar” means that without knowing definitively whether someone identifies as
gay, lesbian, queer, bisexual, pansexual, or anything else in the LGBTQ
alphabet soup, the individual can “just tell” that the other person isn’t
But guessing at people’s orientations quickly
becomes a controversial practice, and by acknowledging gaydar as legitimate,
even jokingly, we are reinforcing stereotypes. The girl with short hair becomes
a lesbian before even being offered the chance to come out. The guy who crosses
his legs too femininely is considered gay before ever considering his sexuality
himself. The transgender individual is defined as a homosexual before anyone
stops to ask how they identify, let alone who they are attracted to. Conversely,
most gaydar would classify any feminine, cisgender woman or any masculine, cisgender
man as straight. And these labels that we adhere to people’s identities
casually through our use of gaydar become more than just simple misnomers –
they become assumptions about people’s personal identities that only work to
And now, I’ll leave you with one last thought. When
my friend Ana used her gaydar to qualify Sarah as a lesbian based only on her
Ellen DeGeneres-esque hairstyle, there was certainly no malicious intent. Ana
did not consciously decide to actively promote a gay stereotype, and in fact,
if prompted Ana would surely tell you that stereotypes as a rule are generally
in poor taste. And yet she didn’t think twice about utilizing her “great
gaydar” skills, and this is precisely what intrigues me about the practice of
gaydar. People inside and outside of the LGBTQ community are innocently promoting
stereotypes and they don’t even realize it. Instead of using hairstyles,
posture, and self-expression to guess at someone’s sexual orientation, let’s
work to create safe spaces for conversation instead. Rather than make rash
assumptions, let’s trade in our gaydar for a voice box and see where an open
dialogue can take us.
Every Wednesday we at Blue Devils United will fill you in on upcoming events and projects that we are working on.
November is sure to be a busy month! We will have the Drag Show, You Don't Say?, and Trans Day of Remembrance. If you would like to preform in the drag show please email Jacob.firstname.lastname@example.org. Drag kings and queens of all levels are welcome. If you would like to model for the You Don't Say? poster campaign, please email Rachel.email@example.com. And finally, if you would like to help advertise for Trans Day of Remembrance contact Fiona.firstname.lastname@example.org.
We Would love to see you at our next general body meeting on Wednesday the 6th of November at 6:30pm, in the Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity. We will be watching an episode of RuPaul's Drag Race, this event is BYOD (bring your own dinner)!
First I’ll start off with a
disclaimer; I know that as a phenotypically white 18 year old girl with no
completely glaring physical deformities and a middle-class background, my life
is easier than the lives of most people in the world, I don’t actually know the
statistics, but I would guess that my sheer luck in terms of being born into my
own life has placed me within the top ten percent of humans on earth that have
it the easiest, and therefore have no real reason to complain about any
perceived hardship that they’ve overcome. I completely understand, and agree
with, any of you who might already be dismissing what I’m about to say, but I
ask that you give it a chance.
One of the perspectives that I have
heard the least in terms of LGBT issues is that of bisexual women. We are
acknowledged and accepted by our community, but our problems are, albeit
rightfully, overlooked. This is surprising to me due to the amount of bisexual
women in the world, again, I don’t know what the exact number is, but I know
that it’s enough for me to make the possibly lofty assumption that my issues
are shared by a relatively large amount of people. I’m dedicating this blog
post to unearthing some of the problems that bisexual women face. I would love
to give readers some advice in handling these problems, but I have absolutely
no clue how to handle them in the very limited and petty scope of my own life,
much less in general.
The problems that I face in my own
endeavors are; the assumption that my life is easy enough for my voice to be
completely ignored by other members of the LGBT community, the reluctance of
other women who love women to accept that I am sexually interested in them, the
near impossibility of ever finding any of these women who haven’t been in a
happy relationship for a ridiculously long time, and the incessant cat-calling
that I receive from men.
As you’ve all probably guessed, I
feel marginalized by just about everyone and I’m almost hurt that my community
seems to be rejecting me as a part of it. How am I to grapple with this? Should
I get a giant tattoo spanning across my forehead declaring that I am indeed
“BISEXUAL”? This is obviously a terrible idea, but every so often I find myself
seriously considering it. Our community hosts widely publicized events advocating
for just about every one of its members, which is really necessary and I’m very
happy about it…except for the fact that I, and others like me, seem to be the
only members whose sexuality goes without celebration.
On the other side of this,
bisexuality is seen as some kind of a party-trick by essentially everyone, even
allies and other LGBT folk. I encounter so many women who I have fondled for a
surprisingly long amount of time and to a surprisingly great extent who
identify as heterosexual, and who have even uttered extremely offensive,
inappropriate, and homophobic sentences to me without even the semblance of a
thought that I could be bothered by such a thing. They couldn’t be more wrong
because this bothers me to no end. It is also extremely confusing, which isn’t
fair to women who want to interact sexually with one another for better reasons
than remedying their boyfriend’s terrible case of whisky-dick. You sorority
stars and super-groupies are leading us on and no one benefits from it, so
would it kill you to see me as more of a human being and less of an accessory
for helping you seduce men? Chances are, if I’ve been sucked in by your
advances, you’re attractive enough to ensnare those men without making me feel
just as useless as your slutty lingerie. And to the boys who encourage this
behavior (because you certainly aren’t mature enough to enjoy the title of
“men”), I am not bisexual to help you live out some porn-fueled fantasy that
you can brag about to your friends. I’m bisexual because I happen to be
bisexual. That’s all there is to it (well, that’s all there would be if y’all
weren’t interfering with my life).
A core component of the BDU blog is our capability to have anonymous posts. If you'd like to write an anonymous post, you can submit one here. Also please see this link for our guidelines about anonymous posts. If you're unsure about the format of an anonymous post, you'll be able to find some here. We look forward to reading what you have to share with us!
As a writer, I’ve always been told that a title is the most important part of a piece of work—it’s the hook—and without it, the quality of your piece doesn’t matter because no one will even bother to read it.
I’ve also heard it referred to as a ‘striptease’, which I like much better than ‘hook’, because preforming a striptease is exactly what I do.
With my writing, pervert.
But, while on the subject, I should clarify that this post isn’t going to be about the state of hair on a woman’s hoo-ha. In fact, I’m actually going to talk about heads. (If your mind is still in the gutter, I’m not talking about male banana boats either).
This summer I chopped off all of my hair and donated over a foot to Locks of Love. Event though I was voted ‘best hair’ in high school, I never considered it a defining feature of my identity—including my femininity and sexuality. People would always tell me how much they loved my hair, or wish they had hair as long as mine, or would simply get lost in some Rapunzel tower of their own mind while combing their fingers through it. But then, at the end of last semester, some ignorant bastard told me that the one thing he would change about me (besides my lack of butt—which I love because it allows me to inconspicuously wear leggings as pants) would be my hair. “It doesn’t have enough...life. And besides, I prefer brunettes”.
That’s when it hit me. My hair really didn’t have life, and not because it lacked volume or luster. It was because I honestly didn’t care about it as part of who I was. I realized that my hair was a defining factor in my identity as a female. Simply because it was long I was awarded a ‘tag’ that classified me as feminine.
Hair is a veil for everyone. It provides something to fixate on. And as my girl Hillary Clinton knows “hair is the only part of one’s body that you can change at will”.
What’s worse is that for women having long hair has become expected. If someone doesn’t have a particularly fit body or a stereotypically pretty face, I still so often hear “she has nice hair”. As if that’s the only thing of worth. But you would never hear that if someone’s hair wasn’t long
When I told my mom that I wanted to cut my hair she was appalled. Why? “Because everyone will think you’re a dyke!”
So I did it.
And since then, all I have done is cut it shorter and shorter.
So far I have loved many things about having short hair: 30 second showers, learning crazy gelling techniques, having nothing in my face, and getting to do the ‘JB hair flip’ when come up for air while swimming. And while I sometimes miss having longer hair to play with or make me look less like my mom, I don’t feel any less beautiful or feminine. In fact, the shorter I cut it, the freer I feel. Every fraction of an inch that I can afford to shave off feels like an immense weight off of my shoulders (no pun intended). At this point, I’m considering almost completely shaving my head.
Because I’m sick of people saying “You look so pretty! Even with short hair”
Because since when did one single physical trait define someone as “feminine” or “masculine”
Because in this day and age hair has no practical function (I’m not trying to display my fertility levels, thank you very much- I have boobs for that anyway)
Because then I wouldn’t have a veil anymore. I would have absolutely nothing to hide behind.
Well first year queers (gayby’s? queerby’s? q-frosh? We
should work on thinking of a cute name for queer first years) first and
foremost, I am absolutely delighted to welcome you to the Duke family. You’re
in for four years of excitement, confusion, frustration, anticipation,
fabulosity, learning, and fun. As a senior, former President of Blue Devils
United, and current Vice President of Equity and Outreach for Duke Student
Government, I’ve been around the block a few times, so I wanted to provide you
with some quick advice on how to survive at Duke as a member of the queer
community. Here are a few tips.
there is no such thing as “the Duke Queer Experience”: Our community is
vast at Duke, and everyone experiences this place differently. For many people,
particularly gender conforming gay white men (although this category itself can
be problematic and rife with discrepancies), Duke can be pretty great. There
are tons of queer people at Duke who feel completely welcome here from the day
that they set foot on campus and never experience any form of marginalization.
If that’s your experience, that’s fantastic! Just try to keep in mind that many
queer people at Duke still feel very marginalized, alone, isolated, etc. There
is no way to define “what it means to be queer” at Duke. Trust me, I’ve tried.
you’re welcome everywhere, even though it won’t always feel like it: In
your first few weeks of school the heterosexuality of campus can be absolutely
overwhelming. I remember my first Duke party during orientation week. People
were totally cool with the fact that I was gay, but I still felt pretty alone
because heterosexuality was blantantly and unapologetically the norm. This is
not true of all parties at Duke by any stretch (#roundtable #brownstone #nexus
#ubuntu #pegram #coffeehouse
#you’llunderstandthesehashtagswithinthreeweeksIpromise), but it is of a
significant portion of them. When you encounter those spaces, it may feel
lonely at first, but there are always other queer people there. I promise.
Duke can be terrible: While Duke has made great progress towards being a
queerer campus in the past few years, it’s not perfect. As a queer person, you
may have some awful experiences here. When I was a first year, I hung my
rainbow flag out of my window in my dorm and proceeded to have it torn down on
three different occasions. Because Duke can be terrible, don’t be shy about
reaching out to others when you need support. The Center for Sexuality and
Gender Diversity can be a great resource, CAPS is vital, and a good group of
friends helps too.
the queer community, like any community, isn’t perfect: At Duke, not all
queer people get along. Not all queer people even identify as queer. As a
gender non-conforming person, there are some people even within the queer
community who don’t like the way that I dress. There’s drama that can fracture
things, especially on a small campus. There can be rifts between activists and
non-activists. We have a robust and healthy community here, but it has its
hold too strongly to identities:
You are queer, and that is great, but please don’t think that’s all that you
have to be. You are never reducible entirely to your queer identity, no matter
how important it is to you. Branch out beyond just those in the queer
community, because straight allies are plentiful and incredible at Duke.
love of God, be an activist: Note here that I didn’t say be a queer activist (although you should
consider it). As a queer person, you don’t have to do all of your work around
queer issues, but please please please be engaged in social justice issues
during your time on campus. After all, the
white-supremacapialist-heteropatriarchy won’t overthrow itself.
you’re indebted to people you don’t even know: Duke hasn’t always been a
great place for queer people (be on the lookout later for more activism about
queer history on campus!), and it has only changed as a campus because of
people who came generations of students before you. The first queer group on
campus started in 1971, and since then, hundreds of people have worked to make
Duke the school that it is for queer people today. Never forget how much you
owe them, and never take your community for granted.
keep your head up, no matter what anyone says.
I can’t tell you how excited I am to meet each and every one
of you. If you see me walking around campus, please say hello, introduce yourself, and let me know something
cool about you. I may only be here for another year, and I might be a little
bit busy with my senior thesis, but you should know that the day you set foot
on campus, you already have at least
one queer friend in me.
It has somehow come to pass in my two years at Duke that I have
become fairly entwined in the LGBTQA community at Duke, or at least the
“official” parts of it. Almost everyone that I’ve met here is queer and all of
my activities outside of class up until this point have been queerness-related
in some way. I worked for three semesters at the Center, I’m going into my
third year as editor-in-chief of Unzipped: the Duke Journal of Gender and
Sexuality, I spent a year heading up the publication of the magazine Womyn:
the queer experience, and I’m going into my second position on the BDU executive
board. Through this, I’ve become pretty knowledgeable about the resources
tailored to queer students. And there are lots at Duke, more than I ever
expected before coming here. Since I’ve spent so much time with them, I thought
it might be useful to spell them out a bit.
The Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity: This is the
hub of institutional resources for queer students. It is in the Bryan Center
(in an exciting new space :D) and is open from 9-5 every day. It’s a pretty
cool place to hang out during the day, where you can work or socialize freely.
It has various discussion groups that usually meet monthly in the evening, and
these can be a great place to meet people. I personally love Women Loving Women
(and hope to see some new faces there soon!). The Center also hosts a variety
of events through the year, my favorite of which are the NC Pride Festival in
late September and Coming Out Day in October. A lot of these events have huge
attendances, and while people chose to come to the Center or not for a variety
of reasons, I would recommend coming by at least to some early events to meet
people. The Center also has educational resources with pamphlets and a huge
library of queer fiction and nonfiction (Also movies and games. Can’t forget
movies and games), and the staff there can be a helpful resource if you’re
looking for a listening ear. The Center also has condoms, dental dams, gloves,
and lube available to anyone (safe sex resources are also available at Student
Health and the Wellness Center beneath the Coffee House). All in all, the
Center has a lot to offer and people there tend to be close. It’s not a place
that everyone enjoys, but if you’re looking for a place to be, give it a try
and it’s always good to know what events are going on.
Blue Devils United: BDU is the LGBTQA undergraduate student group on campus. It puts
on social events throughout the year and does activist work with students. Some
of the biggest events that BDU has historically put on annually are the BDU
Drag Show in the fall, movie nights and watch parties for important games or
events throughout the year, and the Lavender Ball in the spring. They also
periodically sponsor College Night at the BAR and other fun events here and
there. BDU also gives out rainbow flags at the beginning of every year so
students can show support of the LGBTQA community as part of an ongoing
visibility campaign, which often includes posters and educational materials.
This blog is also run by BDU and is open to anyone who wants to write, either named
or anonymously. BDU usually meets every other week and forms committees for
specific projects that are open to anyone. So BDU is a great place to look if
you want to have a leadership role (however small or large) or have a
particular event or cause that you are passionate about. And even if you don’t
want to be a regular part of BDU, look out for events! They’re a lot of fun and
you can come even if not active in BDU.
Gender-Neutral Housing: Duke’s Gender-Neutral Housing program has grown a lot in the past
year due to a lot of hard work from students of the group Duke Students for
Gender Neutrality. People legally of different sexes now have options to share
dorm rooms and apartments on both West Campus and Central Campus. There has
been a lot of controversy in the NC Legislature this summer about
gender-neutral housing in the UNC system, but it is still available at Duke.
It’s easy to register for when you’re signing up for housing for the next year,
and it’s a great option for gender non-conforming students, trans students, or
anyone who would simply like to have a wider range of roommate options. Though
it’s not currently available to first years on East Campus (unfortunately) DSGN
is still working to expand it to all students. If you’ll be living on East
Campus and need housing that considers any sort of gender issue, talk to your
resident coordinator. Options are available, even if they aren’t ideal.
Unzipped: Unzipped: the Duke Journal of Gender and Sexuality is an academic
journal published annually (usually in the middle of the year, but the schedule
sometimes changes) that compiles papers written by students. Unzipped
publishes work in any academic discipline, from biology to linguistics to film
studies, dealing with any issue of gender or sexuality. They also have recently
started publishing shorter, more personal essays, so really if you have any
interest in reading or publishing almost any piece of literature dealing with
gender or sexuality, look for Unzipped. Copies of the most recent issue
are available in the Bryan Center and all copies can be read in the Center.
Womyn:Womyn: the queer experience is another publication, but
with a more casual and narrative feel. It has essays, poems, letters, and
pretty much any other narrative structure from queer women and their allies on
campus to examine the joys and pains of life as a queer woman. It tries to show
a great variety and range of experiences. The most recent issue can be found in
the Bryan Center and all issues can be read in the Center.
Classes and Academics: Duke offers a variety of classes that examine gender and sexuality
in a variety of ways. Both the Study of Sexualities Program and the Women’s
Studies Program have a wide variety of classes dealing with gender perceptions,
queer theory, social justice issues, and many other areas. Both areas are
listed in the class registration on ACES.
This by far is not an exhaustive list. There are many other
resources and groups that are either explicitly geared toward queer students or
queer-friendly. Duke Student Government is regularly supportive of the LGBTQ
community, as are the selective living groups Nexus and Roundtable. The “Me Too
Monologues” is a show put on every year that tells of students’ experiences of
race, gender, and sexuality. There are a variety of programs throughout the
year by the Multicultural Center, the Mary Lou Williams Center for Black
Culture, the Women’s Center, or some combination of the above that deal with
the intersection of identities. And of course there are many other groups that
welcome queer students and programming is constantly changing. But if you’re
looking for something definitively queer or opportunities for community or
activism, these are good places to start.
Best of luck to all of the new students, and welcome to Duke!
I'm MC Bousquette, the Blue Devils United treasurer. I'm a senior political science major with a certificate in markets and management studies and a theater studies minor. I was born and raised in Greenwich, Connecticut, and will be headed back up north to New York City next year.
I'm very excited to be a part of the BDU executive board for my senior year. I hope to catch a lot of you around campus, whether at our Wednesday meetings in our awesome new Center or to grab coffee and chat! I'm always here to listen and talk about the Duke experience.
everyone! I’m Daniel Kort, a sophomore majoring in psychology and neuroscience,
and I’ll be president of Blue Devils United this year. I’m so excited for
what’s bound to be a very special time for our organization. With the new
Center for Sexual Diversity’s completion, this year marks a high point in the
visibility of LGBT life at Duke. As president, I’m committed to ensuring that
Duke remains a safe and awesome place for everyone, regardless of sexual
orientation and/or gender identity.In
order to accomplish this, I plan to focus on generating a strong bond among
LGBT individuals, allies, and the rest of Duke’s campus. This blog will serve
as an important component of that mission.
of the first-year students out there, welcome to Duke! It was just a year ago
when I was in your shoes, scrutinizing the degree of acceptance on campus,
hoping to find my niche as an out and proud individual. I can thank Blue Devils
United for a great degree of my personal growth over the past year, as the
community has fostered my development as an aspiring advocate and activist.
vivid memory of Duke’s strong affirmation of diverse sexual orientations and
gender identities goes hand-in-hand with one of my very first memories of Duke
itself. When I visited campus for the first time as an eager p-frosh on Blue
Devil Days, the election for Amendment 1 (North Carolina’s gay marriage ban) was
looming. Even though the amendment passed and I was deeply saddened like many
others in the community here, the weeks that led up to the election that May
featured an outpouring of support from students and faculty on campus. Here is
a photograph that I took of Friedl Building on East Campus during Blue Devil
Days in April 2012.
you so much for reading. I’m looking forward to hearing from and meeting all of
you! Join us at our general body meetings every other Wednesday, and don’t
hesitate to shoot me an email if you’d like to grab lunch or coffee to hear
more about Blue Devils United and LGBT life at Duke.
and welcome first-years! I’m Sunny Frothingham, native Durhamite, BDU Outreach
Chair, Public Policy/Women’s Studies Double Major, and Ally!
being an ally means I am dedicated to personally supporting as well as
publically advocating alongside people who face social, institutional,
economic, and legal discrimination because of their sexual orientation and/ or
gender identity. Of course, Allyship can be expressed in a variety of ways and
mean different things to different people, but there’s no doubt that it is
fundamental to making Duke a better place.
When I came
to campus, most of my engagement with LGBT issues and community was with a few
friends who came out in high school and my denomination’s struggle with the
decision to allow the ordination of openly lesbian and gay ministers. I first got involved with advocacy though
efforts to expand Duke’s Gender Neutral Housing options. My first year here Gender Neutral Housing was
strictly limited to certain parts of Central Campus, but through partnerships,
research, advocacy, and a whole lot of navigating bureaucracy, my work
alongside other campus advocates was successful in ensuring the availability of
Gender Neutral Housing on West Campus this year.
experience working on Gender Neutral Housing Policy (which I’ll be writing a
thesis on this year, YAY) was an extremely formative experience for me, and
really sparked my interest in doing more about legal and institutional
discrimination.This summer I learned a
ton working in the LGBT Policy Department of a think tank in D.C., where I got
to research and write about all kinds of policies that disparately impact LGBT
people (including, but so much more than marriage).
to bring my allyship to the BDU executive board this year, but even if you aren’t
interested in the leadership or policy sides of things there are a million ways
to make a positive impact here—like educating yourself, being conscious of
gendered language and pronouns, hanging a Pride Flag, marching in the Parade,
helping with the Drag Show, coming to the Center, and joining BDU.I can’t wait to meet you!
Hello everyone! My name is Fiona
McCrossin, I’m a sophomore here at Duke and I absolutely love primatology,
animal rights activism, and LGBT activism. I am studying in the Evolutionary
Anthropology department and I have an amazing job at the Duke Lemur Center (it’s
one of the best parts of my college experience). I’m also the Blog Editor for
this blog! So, if you’d like to write for this blog, send me an email and your
thoughts will be here in no time!
I try to see the spectrum of sexuality
and gender as objectively as possible, but I do have a subjective view influenced
by my identity as a bisexual individual, and my exploration in the realm of
gender; fitting in as a strictly female person isn’t exactly right, so I might
identify as bigender, but my self-exploration of gender is relatively new and I
think I have more to learn before discovering the identity that I have always
had, yet never been able to pinpoint.
My personal ties to the LGBT, or queer,
community make activism extra rewarding for me, but I also love to support
individuals with identities which are different from mine. This semester I’m
acting as the chair of our committee for Trans Day of Remembrance (feel free to
get in touch with me if you’d like to participate!) I love being a member of
Blue Devils United, the campaigns that we engage in are fantastic from an
activism standpoint and from a social standpoint, as I love working with the
other members of the BDU executive board. The fun activities that BDU organizes
and co-organizes are also a super-enjoyable part of my life and this year I’m hoping
to perform in the Drag Show!