Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Thursday, March 5, 2009
So we had the Drag Show last week, and I think it was a success. At least it was a success in terms of the number of people who showed up, but I am not sure about how many people "got" the point of the show? Do Duke students understand the gender play and why we had the show? I am not sure.
The Drag Show is a great "social" occasion where we are able to increase the presence of both Blue Devils United and the LGBTQ Community on campus. It is a chance for students to showcase their talent and to have a little fun. Does the Drag Show have a political element to it? Should that be the focus? Or is it enough to just make the statement that we make and give Duke a taste of a part of the LGBTQ Community they do not usually see?
I think it is a touch balancing act. If we just make it a social and performance event, than it is likely that our message, of shock, acceptance, and understanding, may be lost though the "hilarity" that people see. However, if we politicize and shock too much, do we risk alienating our audience so that they shut out and ignore the cultural statements we are trying to challenge and make?
I pose these questions to you, so that we can work on how we present future Drag Shows and the Duke LGBTQ Community so that we can effectively and accurately promote our causes.
Let us know what you think.
Monday, February 23, 2009
I just got through most of the posts on the blog as its existence has somehow escaped my surfing habits. I can say that I'm rather proud of the idea but as I see it now it is lacking in that it caters almost exclusively to the LGBT crowd. While I understand that it serves as means of self-help in between us, it would be of much more help if the greater public and our allies would benefit from reading our insightful and somewhat revealing experiences and ideas. Maybe if we advertised the blog more? or somehow include more people in it I believe it could become a good vessel of peaceful discussion, without it becoming an LGBT version of the metoo blog.
I am certain we have many allies in our student body who are either unaware of the adversity we face everyday, even with what some might deem minor lingual kinks, or who see them happening everyday but do not know how to cope with them. What if we could somehow reach out to them and give them the background information they need?! Think if every day just a couple of people back-lashed when someone uses the word gay or fag?! I think the reason why this social phenomenon has been rampant is exactly the lack of response from everybody. This in turn has lead to what the previous poster described as, the terms becoming part of "habitual-daily speech", a mass-desensitizing phenomenon.
As part of my coming-out process I've tried doing my best to kindly correct any people I was talking too if they ever used any terms associated with LGBT or any other minority or group for that matter. While some viewed it as me beeing a "party-pooper" and taking things "too seriously" I remained adamant and I hope that if not all, some realized that it was something that really mattered to me and have stopped using it.
Trying to cut my late-night stream of conciousness blurb, I want to end by saying that I have great hopes for the LGBT community and Duke and that if we work at our full potential there is room for great change. We have the raw materials and the tools, we need just be the catalyst for change.
The tagging on the Giles bench and the subsequent addition of flyers to counter this hate speech by members of the Duke LGBTQ community today caused quite a bit of interest to passersby. Most just stared, wondered what the crazy alternative gays were doing, then continued on to the Marketplace to escape from the cold. A few came over to express support. Two guys asked what the big deal was, obviously the tagging wasn't directed towards gays, but was a bit of light-hearted ribbing to the denizens of Giles. The question of whether they would feel the same way had the N-word been substituted for 'fag' was posed to them. They actually had the audacity to respond "Well it's different because n***r isn't a word used on a daily basis." "Everyone has their own opinion."
What should we do when we encounter hateful speech and actions like this? Is it permissible for us to not react when it "wasn't meant that way?" Or is any action like this one worthy of a reaction because it perpetuates a mentality of hate and intolerance even if it is not "meant that way" by the authors? I believe in the latter, that we should react and fight against hateful speech regardless of how "small" it may seem, because taking it as a joke legitimizes this ignorant comment as funny. It is not funny and should not be tolerated whether or not it was meant as an act of hostility towards the gay community. It is hurtful and not welcome on Duke's campus, and so we must react and we have reacted.
We Don't Tolerate Hate, Homophobia, Bigotry, Ignorance, Oppression... These words only serve to call us to action against the people who perpetrate these crimes of intolerance.
Friday, February 20, 2009
Two more anonymous contributions (1 of 2):
I'm a fun guy, and I like going to parties to drink and get tipsy. But recently I have had a strong aversion to large social events. Why? Because I want something more out of my time now. It's second semester already yet I'm still single and it sucks. Seeing everyone else dancing and having fun, eyeing other people, and getting something real out of their nights just makes me want to go back to my room and cry.
I talk to my friends about this, and they tell me to give it time and to keep on trying. I know they have the best intentions, but a part of me is just tired of trying. When am I going to get somewhere? When is Mr. Right or, at this point, anyone going to show up? You know what? FML
Two more anonymous contributions (2 of 2):
Warning: This is a long post, and I apologize if it rambles. I wrote this in a hurry, and my thoughts tend to wander. Please note that I primarily confined my thoughts to the Center for LGBT Life, as it would be much too large a task to attempt to address gay life at Duke as a whole. I suspect many people will have differing opinions on my views, and comments are of course welcome.
I studied abroad last summer and fall (’07), which turned out to an eye-opening experience. Upon my return to Duke, I promised myself that I would visit the LGBT Center as soon as possible. I had been by it before, of course, but I had never actually been inside. Noticing the fliers that my RA (a member of Duke Allies) had put up, I decided that going to a Fab Friday would probably be the best way to ease myself into gay life at Duke. After I had worked up the nerve to enter the Center (which sadly took some time), I went inside and found a welcoming group of people. I have to admit that apples-to-apples and twister was not exactly what I had been expecting, and I loved my first visit to the Center. Although I still had my reservations, I gradually warmed up to the Center and the people there. To someone still closeted and pretty unknowledgeable about LGBT life, the Center felt like a comforting and safe haven. I came out at school almost immediately afterwards, and my confidence in who I was grew by leaps and bounds over the course of the semester.
I chose to wait until summer to break the news to my mom in person. She did not take it at all well, unfortunately, and cried for days. There were the usual accusations of peer pressure and “you just haven’t found the right girl yet,” but fortunately I had learned enough about myself over the course of the spring semester to be able to firmly quash those hopeful but futile claims. In many ways, the Center facilitated my coming out, and I’ll probably always be enormously grateful for that.
I don’t think the Center is perfect, however. There are a few areas in which I think it could improve. Atmosphere- At one of the Fab Fridays earlier this semester, a sorority sister tagged along with a friend to see what the Center was like. I could tell she was ill at ease, so I walked up to her and introduced myself (people who know me know I rarely do this). She introduced herself and then hesitantly added, “People here are awfully cliquish, aren’t they?” She had a point. The Center can get very cliquish. As a newcomer last year, it took me some time to get used to how things worked, and it took even more time before I really felt comfortable at the Center. Sadly, some people never feel comfortable or welcome and consequently avoid the Center entirely. This cliquishness is exacerbated by the rampant gossip in the LGBT community. Even living on the fringe of the community as I do, I have heard far more gossip than I cared to know, much of it superficial and inaccurate.
Activism- Blue Devils United was founded last year with three committees (activism, outreach, and social). While the suggestions made for the group were perhaps overly ambitious, the enthusiasm was constructive. One of the aims for the outreach committee was to reach out to local high schools and encourage the creation of GSAs, for example. One year later, BDU has little to show for its efforts. Lavender Ball was a success, of course, and NC Pride and Coming Out Day went well. Blue Devils United, however, had no integral part in any of those events. Perhaps the most significant event encouraged by BDU was the rally in Raleigh against Proposition 8. With the changing of leadership in BDU and the group’s subsequent restructuring, outreach and activism seem to have fallen by the wayside. The primary focus of the group has been on social events like Lavender Ball and the drag show. The upcoming Proposition 8 protest is an exception, but that is a mere copying of activism at Princeton. What does it say about our community when we have to look elsewhere instead of taking the lead? The Anti-Bullying Bill letter writing is an example of good activism, but that’s sponsored by the LGBT Center rather than BDU. There is a great deal that LGBT activists could do at Duke. Thursday marks the one year anniversary of the murder of Lawrence King, whose death will sadly go unnoted at Duke this year. A temporary display and memorial set up around the James Duke statue would be appropriate. Another thing to work on would be co-ed dorm rooms; Duke students are not allowed to room with members of the opposite sex. The two hundred year old cohabitation law in North Carolina was first challenged three years ago by the ACLU. LGBT activism requires baby steps, and it is perhaps more reasonable to start with being able to room with whomever one wants before moving to being able to marry whomever one wants. This lobbying could be jointly organized with GLBTSA at UNC Chapel Hill; after all, many members of the two LGBT communities mingle quite nicely at STIR.
Attendance- Fab Fridays have been well-attended this year, sometimes with over fifty attendees. While this is a wonderful thing, one wonders where those fifty students are on Wednesday nights, when BDU meetings often have a dozen students at the most (usually the same ones). Bringing Gene Robinson to Duke was one of the most impressive things it has done, but his presentation had a depressingly low turnout. Most of my criticism about activism has been an unavoidable result of low attendance; it is extremely difficult to set up events without a critical mass of people. The Center is lacking in allies, despite the excellent ally training sessions, and a male ally who shows up to events is the proverbial needle in a haystack. Visibility is key for attracting members and hosting successful events. As just one suggestion, Blue Devils United should have had a booth at the spring activities fair last Monday.
In summation, I think the Center for LGBT life is a wonderful resource for students. Students questioning their sexuality, as I did last year, will undoubtedly find the Center a safe place to learn more about themselves and explore their curiosity. The Center should be commended for its efforts in reaching out to students, including starting a new women’s group and holding biweekly meetings for LGBT or questing students. Rather than bask on these successes, however, we should continue to improve. There’s always room for improvement.