Sexuality and Duke University

I remember when I first got into Duke.
I was standing in the storage area of my work. It was an extremely busy day, but I knew that decisions were going to be released, so I had to be constantly refreshing the login page. My phone randomly logged me into my account, and all I saw was “Congratulations!” and I sobbed -- for hours on end. To me, it felt as if everything I had worked through, everything I had tortured myself with, everything that I had to pick myself up after was worth it. After my week or so of celebration, both internally and externally, I became fearful. Yes, I had gotten into one of the most prestigious and selective universities in the world, but… now what? I’m still in the South. I’m still in a place where, historically speaking, conservative ideals run deep, propounded with superfluous bible verses and threats of impending damnation for sinning- specifically being a homosexual.
With these fears, I arrived on campus, ready to face whatever may come my way.
Never have I felt more at home. When they say a “liberal arts education,” I believe the emphasis should be placed on liberal. Here, almost everyone is socially accepting, not allowing my sexuality to impede anyone from getting to know me as a person. It seems that all of the fears I once had sublimated instantaneously.
A Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity? Yes, please.
Hosting NC Pride? Wouldn’t mind at all.
Here, at Duke University, I can be who I want to be and take great pride in it, something I would have never thought possible in the Bible Belt South.
To me, being free of the burning in the back of my mind telling me to be conscious of my self-expression is one of the most liberating sensations, or rather lack thereof. Now, I am even more excited for what the future holds, since I feel nothing grabbing me by the ankles and dragging me down. Nothing from the past haunts me, no hesitations for the future reduce me- all I believe I can do now is rise, and with great certainty, the beautifully accepting community of Duke University seems to be a viable place for me to do so.

Kendrik is a freshman at Duke University.