Gay Duke Student Says University Negligent in Response to Homophobic Hate Speech, Harassment


Back in April, I covered the story of Justin Robinette, the Chairman of the College Republicans at Duke University, who said he was forced from his position after fellow students found out he was gay. At the end of May, Robinette was targeted by vandals, who slurred him with anti-gay graffiti on the East Campus Bridge at Duke (see photos).

Robinette tells us that the harassment has continued.

Writes Robinette:

After being impeached in April from the Duke College Republicans due to shared information with my Executive Board as to my sexual orientation, officers who resigned immediately and me directly have received continued harassment and been intimidated by current members of the Duke College Republicans. Duke University's East Camus Bridge vandalism was preceded by many instances of intimidation and harassment of former DCR officers (threatening Facebook messages from DCR Chief of Staff Rachel Provost harassing my former officers with rumors as to their sexuality and any other "personal information" they may potentially uncover, simply for supporting me. Additionally, former Vice-Chairman Matthew Leonard's dormitory nametag was vandalized with the word "faggot"). The Bridge graffiti has been followed up with anonymous death threats to both me and student Bridget Gomez (who recently created a Facebook group ). Additionally, someone I believe to be a current DCR Executive officer sent me a threatening message dated today, as well. These have been forwarded to Duke Police and they say they are investigating presently.

By members of the DCR I have been called a “faggot,” “lying faggot,” a supporter of the “faggot center,” “ironic,” “disgusting," and Duke's anonymous gossip site has included these messages: “Justin Robinette: if you ever needed a reason to hate gay people,” “fags and fag-enablers need to step out of the way,” “no one cares about faggots or those who cry faggot,” “DCR = righteous, lying fag = Robinette.” The East Campus Bridge was recently vandalized with the words "Lying Fag Robinette, DCR= Righteous, Get AIDS in Hell." The creator of a Facebook group asking Duke University to take action has received a death threat, and I have also received one, and had one forwarded to me by a Duke College Republican Executive Board officer. These death threats (attached here) told me that I "was a dead fag," told me "to go eat shit out of another homo," told a student who created a Facebook page (above) that as a "n-gger," it is not "surprising" she would "support faggots," ordered her to take down the page or she would be killed, and told me in another death threat that "it's not as easy to paint over a dead faggot." DCR officers have texted me calling me "Shit on Dicks" and sometimes abbreviated this to "S on Ds," and made references to others by this derogatory name. Outside of police investigation, no action is being taken against these individuals outside of our own complaints to the Conduct Board.

The Daily Tarheel late last week made note of the university's silence on the issue

"Duke University Police could not be reached for comment.

'This particular situation is very complex,' said Larry Moneta, Duke's vice president of student affairs. 'We’re doing sort of everything at every level.  We’re sort of coordinating a set of responses specific to the individuals and contemplating what’s the best and most inventive way to turn it into the a teachable moment for the campus.'

But that teachable moment could be difficult to find during the summer when most Duke students don’t even know their bridge had ever been defiled, Moneta said.

Satell said he would have expected the administration to send out a campuswide e-mail condemning the graffiti and asking for tips if anyone knew how it happened.

'We’re seeing if there is any action to be taken against the university for remaining silent in response to this,' Robinette said."

President Brodhead has refused meetings with Robinette, according to the Facebook petition.



  1. Ronald McDonald says

    I can’t feel any sympathy whatever for a gay Republican, no matter how cute.

  2. TC says

    More cleansing by the Republicans. Keep in mind that the only difference between young Republicans and old Republicans is that old Republicans are better at disguising the way they fell and young ones don’t bother.

  3. stephen says


    “most don’t even know that their bridge was defiled”

    yeah, cuz that’s the issue…

    Hopefully the fact that it IS summer session will make it easier to find them. A suggestion: don’t leave it with “campus police”

    Must be a VERY proud moment for DOUCHE, I mean DUKE.

  4. Fahd says

    Deplorable situation. Let’s hope the non-response and the “seeking for the teachable moment” doesn’t result in someone getting physically injured or killed. This is taking place in KKK country, after all. This bullying should generate several criminal and civil suits once the culprits are rounded up. I hope for Robinette’s benefit some of them have rich daddies. Imagine being a Duke University Young Republican and discovering the president of your group is gay rotflmao. And if Robinette doesn’t become a lifelong Democrat after emerging from this ordeal he needs his head examined.

  5. neverstops says

    this is pretty messed up

    I don’t think campus official realize the longer they try to avoid dealing with the issue, the worse it will get

    and Ronald, that’s really douchey of you – the kid’s what? 21? 22? He’s still growing

    I’m sure your young years were without fault for you to be able to cast such harsh judgement

  6. MatthewCA81 says

    Yeah, gay republicans – bleh. However, it is truly disturbing. No one should face that level of harassment. What annoys me is all these “teachable moments” today. If your doing something wrong, have a consequence. Isn’t that a lesson learned? If your an adult, pay the price for being a horrible person. But no. Instead we find the best opportunity to include everyone. It’s lame and ineffective. I refuse to go on a rant longer than I have though.

  7. Bobby says

    That should teach ’em right there that trying to be a gay-republican is like trying to be a black KKK member.

  8. Wren says

    Again with the gay Repubs. Similar to an African American becoming a Klansman or a Jew joining the Nazi party. Get a clue kid.

  9. Rowan says

    So what do you do if you want less govt?

    What group do you join because you guys are pretty zealous & black or white.

  10. RalfW says

    If this is the new crop of Republicans (and I’m confident that it is a rather representative slice), then, uhhhh, their facism is showing.

    And to think this level of moronic hatred is among college educated people of some privilege.

    (Oh, and thank god Orbitz is having a gay pride sale…that makes this pile of organized, legitimized GOP hatred all better, don’t it?!?)

  11. Troy says

    I’m a democrat, but I would be a lot happier knowing there were people like Robinette in the republican party. The Duke College Republicans should be proud to have someone as brave, tenacious and unwilling to be victimized as Robinette in their ranks. Instead, their actions and those of the University reveal their true priorities and lack of character. Pity. I used to have a lot of respect for Duke. Keep holding their feet to the fire, Justin. But protect yourself.

  12. TampaZeke says

    Wait a minute…

    These are the VERY SAME people that he was PROUD to hang with and be associated with until they turned their hate on HIM? They didn’t just TURN anti-gay the day Robinette came out. They were rabidly anti-gay when he joined them, when he climbed the ranks among them and when he became their proud leader. He’s only upset that they are now turning that SAME hate toward him personally.

    BOO fucking HOO Robinette.

    You lie down with dogs…

    After reading the graffiti on the bridge, and Robinette’s response, it’s painfully clear that spelling and grammar aren’t considered important at Duke.

  13. David in Houston says

    Get AIDS in hell? Well, at least Brian Brown and Maggie Gallagher will have something to look forward to.

  14. says

    If you step back and think about it, this really sounds like some closeted anger on display here. Seriously, someone or several individuals with some deeply suppressed homo feelings has really been rattled by his coming out.

    It’s one thing when he’s removed from his position as Chairman of the college Republicans, it’s quite another to have this continued vile dumped on him. To me, this sounds like there are more homos in this group who cannot deal with facing their own demons.

  15. Gabe R L says

    There most likely won’t be any help from the Duke Police – they are a notoriously corrupt, lazy bunch.

  16. Gabe R L says

    They spend more time on trespassing cases then they do on harassment and assault cases.

  17. Chitown Kev says

    And…of course, the Daily Tarheel (the student newspaper for Duke’s archrival, the University of North Carolina) would report it.

    I suppose he could always transfer to UNC, I hear that it’s a bit more liberal in Chapel Hill anyway.

    And cheaper (even if he is from out of state).

    And the education is just as good, really.

  18. says

    As much as I agree that a gay republican is an oxymoron, no one deserves that kind of harassment. We should be siding with him and lending support not vilifying him and leaving him on the side of the road like roadkill who somehow deserved it for not looking both ways before crossing. We need to be better than our enemies not sink to their levels. The alienation he must be feeling from all this does not need to be compounded by the very community that he aligned himself with by being honest about who he is.

  19. Blair says

    When you lay down with the dogs, you’re gonna get fleas, Mister Young Republican Man.

  20. Aaron D. says

    Wow wow wow…I can’t tell if these comments are by my fellow fags or fag-haters…really? You are going to dismiss the situation just because he is Republican? Shame on you…

  21. Dennis says

    Robinette gets a pass ONLY because of his age/inexperience…hope this is a “teaching moment” for him, the party you claim to support HATES you. Anygay older than him should clearly know better…

    Sounds like the Duke “DCRs” can legitimately be classisfied as a hate group. This level of harrassment shows the hateful, dangerous agenda that many (but not all) in the rethuglican party clearly hold onto…truly psychotic.

    Listening LCRs, and GoProud? So some false idea of ‘Democratic big government’ and ‘paying some (fair) taxes’ is worse than this kind of hatred ?! I just don’t get it…how ’bout supporting fiscally conservative democrats instead of the enemy?

  22. bobbyjoe says

    “So what do you do if you want less govt?”

    Well, I’d advise you start by not joining a party that insists the government be involved in even the most private aspects of people’s lives, like who they can marry.

  23. Aaron D. says

    @BobbyJoe…may I remind you that our President, a Democrat, doesn’t even believe that we should “marry”…

  24. JusticeontheRocks says

    I always love the comments from the 50 somethings who seem to “misremember” any mistakes in judgment they may have made while in college. Short memories by haters

    There’s always a lot of screaming on here about bigoted republican policies. Justifiably so. But the Democrats aren’t a lot, if any better.

    The guy is 21 for goodness sake.

  25. nic says

    i can empathize with robinette, but i connot sympathize. what can one expect when one lies down with dogs.

  26. Bill says

    Hate from haterosexuals… typical. The haterosexual police will do nothing because they have the exact prejudices these haterosexuals have and agree and they don’t want to give these haterosexuals a criminal record because they don’t think harassing a gay person is worth it.

  27. ant says

    I had a libertarian moment in college and went to a young republicans meeting. the jocky boys there made sure that i knew that they knew what i was and that i should not come back – and yeah it was sure a teachable moment for me. if you think there is no real difference between the 2 parties views on the gays – then you are a moron.

    so not to pile on Robinette but if he is reading: take a good look at what they think about you, because the rest of their party thinks the exact same thing. and if you continue to be a gay republican – well then you are a moron.

  28. Ross says

    The silence of the administration is clearly a Permission to Kill.

    Run fast, Robinette — run far.

    Truly sad…

  29. Jubal Harshaw says

    A teachable moment would be overriding the others at putting Robinette back in play.

  30. Jimmy L says


  31. ATLSteve says

    dook is the biggest collection of douchebags on the planet – a bunch of losers and geeks who couldn’t get into the Ivy league.

    And Tar Heel is two words.

    Agree – appears some dookies protest too much.

  32. Roland says

    Doesn’t Duke have an obligation to provide its students with a “safe” environment free of harassment?

    Where are the lawyers on this one?

  33. Rowan says

    Where are GOProud? Or the Log Cabin crew?

    I wonder if any the really right wing gay American sites are even covering this?

  34. TANK says

    this isn’t merely a mistake. And I highly doubt robinette (who is still a republican who would vote for john mccain and sarah palin in a heartbeat) and other gay republicans consider their republican affiliation a mistake. That is laughable, and you wouldn’t making such facile excuses for him if he were someone that you queens didn’t want to have sex with.

    This is the reality of the republican party. A great deal of republicans believe that homosexuality should be criminalized, and that dominionism is the best model of government (christian theocracy). They are openly hostile to the u.s. constitution and to secular democracy. They are radically antigay, and gay republicans have done absolutely nothing to change the minds and attitudes of the party mainstream. They’ve given up on that, as most if not all rely on the justification that they simply don’t care about gay rights…and are more concerned with the teaparty platform.

    This man actively involved himself in a party that ceaselessly seeks to deprive lgbt americans of not only civil equality, but basic human dignity. Should death threats be reported to the police? Of course–death threats are illegal and should never be tolerated…and they should follow up on those with an investigation…like they would in a society that valued homosexuality as it does heterosexuality. But it doesn’t, and robinette is a part of the reason why it doesn’t (however minor his complicity). He deserves no more and no less consideration than anyone else who is victimized for being gay in that area (that area’s response to antigay criminal activity in general is a separate issue, itself worthy of condemnation).

  35. Matt says

    Just to be clear, most of the gay republicans I knew didn’t want less government, they wanted more money.

    Having come out to myself and everyone else as a student at Duke, I just want to see I pretty much never felt harassed for being gay when I was a student there. The school and the majority of the student body was very accepting. Sure, it’s in the Carolinas and most of the student body is southern, but I can’t think of a single incident where I had a problem and I made a lot of great friends, gay and straight, that accepted me.

  36. Dave says

    The GOP is a hate group. If you are not white, rich and straight you are not welcome in their club; however, they will take your money and let you vote for them. This poor boy likely came from a wealthy family and the lad was just doing what his father did; however, he is a homo. The Nazi welcomed homosexuals until the night of the long-knives. With friends like his who needs enemas?

  37. Dan L says

    @FAHD: “This is taking place in KKK country, after all.”

    *Eyeroll*. Durham, NC is NOTHING like “KKK country”, which if you had ever set foot here you would realize. It is the most reliably Democratic county in the state (a state that went for Obama in 2008, as a Poli Sci 101 student could tell you) and the area around Duke is very liberal and “crunchy”. Duke University’s student body is about 80% Northerners, mostly from NJ and NY.

    Try again with your Regionist slurs.

  38. TampaZeke says

    Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill is VERY liberal.

    Don’t judge this Golden Triangle Oasis by the slackjawed rednecks that surround it.

  39. ATLSteve says

    @ Matt –
    You were a student at dook and yet you claim most of their student body is southern? Wrong.

    Very few dookies are from NC or the south – try NY, NJ and PA.

  40. g_whiz says

    *sigh* Its sad but what can we expect from the intensley homophobic right? THe only smart place for a gay republican is the closet. Look what happens to them when they’re pushed out of it? The GOP’s politically and “morally” opposed to the existence of people like you. People like you have been and continue to be used as a wedge issue to split votes and scare people into voting on issues that ultimitley mean little in the grand scheme of things. And what, if you hadn’t been outed you’d be okay with that? I’m outraged at every single case of hatred like this in the universe. But I see so many people coming from the Right who happen to be gay who…just seem to care when it happens to them. Which reinforces in my mind the level of self interest it requires to subscribe to being a Republican.

  41. Fahd says

    Even if Duke is a great place, even if Southerners as a group can no longer be regarded as prejudiced against gays or anyone else, and even if he deserves what he gets for being a Republican and gay, I think no one wants him to be physically hurt or killed. Ignoring the inflammatory graffiti and death threats is irresponsible. The FBI should be brought in. Whether the culprits are from NJ or NC, they should not be able to terrorize him or anyone else like this with impunity.

  42. Jim Neal says

    I rarely take a shot like this. But not this time. Many of you don’t know a damn thing about what’s happened- and are resorting to straw man arguments. If anyone thinks for a nanosecond that the NAACP wouldn’t be all over this situation like a cheap suit if it involved a person of color- you’re living on Mars. For a gay person- aghast a Republican at that- many of us opt to talk the talk but walk away. Walking the walk might be too much of an inconvenience.

    Justin took it to the Duke Administration. He took it to the Police. Nada. And this is playing out in Durham, NC- a place where the City Council passed a non-binding resolution 11-0 in support of gay marriage and the home base to barista extraordinaire Pam Spalding aka Pam’s House Blend. Hardly Leviticus, NC.

    DUKE, INC. has a crisis PR firm (Edelman in nyc) monitoring this situation- and by a gay partner at Edelman at that! I’m not one to go postal but you’re picking it up now– in response to some of the posts I’ve read.

    Like so many of you I’ve been to this rodeo before. I’ve lived through my own rank ordeals, my kids have lived through theirs b/c I’m gay. But I’m a tough SOB who doesn’t back down. However, I’ve come to appreciate that unlike NYC or LA or SF or BOS or MIA there are a lot of gay people in places like NC who are scared to death and don’t know how/what to do. The comments here by many so-called progressives / liberals and almighty Democrats makes all the more clear why.

    Justin is just a kid. He’s younger than my two sons for Christ’s sake.

    If there is anyone who gives a damn about doing something actionable to help this kid get the legal counsel he needs, kindly send me an email.

  43. Jubal Harshaw says

    Well GOProud and Log Cabinites?

    As a registered Republican I’m asking, what are you doing about this?

  44. bobbyjoe says

    @Aaron D

    True, but the President isn’t the Democratic party all by himself. And I sure don’t see the Democrats making opposition to same-sex marriage a plank in their mission statement, like the Republicans do.

  45. says

    Ok, snideness aside, I do hope that he does not suffer any further, either physically or psychologically.

    A teachable moment: always be out so you know who will support you from the start.

  46. queenzafrona says

    It is a sad day in America when gay people put others gays down. We need to stick together. I think you need to look at this poor man and see that he tried to help from the other side of the aisle. Would you be so nasty to an Iraqian gay because they do not share our views? How about loving your neighbor? The best way to hit Duke is in the pocket. Have the gay alumni not send in anymore money for anything. Boycott the basketball games, etc. No donations to the Republican party.

  47. DukeBLOWS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! says

    I CANNOT BELIEVE THE DISREGARD FOR HUMAN LIFE AT DUKE UNNIVERSITY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I WOULDNT SEND MY CHILD THERE IF IT WAS THE LAST SCHOOL ON EARTH! MY KIDS WILL NOT BE GOING TO SCHOOL WITH SUCH HATRED FROM THESE WHITE TRASH STUDENTS (MEMBERS OF THE DCR) I WILL SPREAD THIS AROUND LIKE WILDFIRE!! DUKE SUCKS DUKE SUCKS DUKE SUCKS DUKE SUCKS DUKE SUCKS!!!! DUKE IS DISCRIMINATING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! DUKE IS FULL OF HATRED!!!!!!!!!!!!!! DUKE DOES NOT PROTECT THEIR STUDENTS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!DONT SEND YOUR KIDS TO DUKE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! DCR MEMBERS ARE WHITE TRASH ANARCHISTS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  48. says

    What does this young man expect. Anti-black, anti-gay, anti-nonreligious, anti- woman is a major point in the Republican Party and part of the dogma of Conservative ideology.