RED Hearts: Blogger We Love: Meg Dukes, 18

RED Hearts are guests posts on I Heart Daily from the authors of RED: Teenage Girls in America Write On What Fires Up Their Lives Today. Today's RED Hearts post is by the book's editor Amy Goldwasser, reporting from New York City with an awesome blogger interview:

Love-not-hate for Valentine’s Day. Pretty basic stuff -- you’d think it would be easy, right? But you’d also think, Who could possibly vote against this guy’s most powerful, heartfelt presentation in defense of same-sex marriage to the Iowa House of Representatives?

Well, it’s never easy to overcome prejudice or have to worry about how people perceive you in this world (and who hasn’t been there?), especially when you’re staring down a new set of strangers in a new city at a new school. The transition can be even tougher if you’re gay.

Meg Dukes, 18, author of the awesome Meg in the City blog on Matthew’s Place, a cool, useful and above all, safe place for young members of the LGBT community, writes a winning, first-hand chronicle of her life, from coming out as a high school student in rural Colorado to sorting out the shift to college freshman at NYU. Meg assures us that -- like the slush covering her current hometown -- it gets better.

Amy Goldwasser: How did you discover Matthew's Place? Meg Dukes: There was a program at my high school that connected seniors with local organizations in our fields of interest for internships, and I was introduced to the Matthew Shepard Foundation. I will admit I had not previously heard about MSF or knew who Matt was before applying to intern. That grew into a summer internship and the blog.

AG: What advice would you give your high school self now? MD: Just hang on a little bit longer -- you'll make it to college and it will be everything you expect. Some advice I would give is to set a goal and do everything in your power to reach it. If it’s moving from rural Colorado to New York City or making the basketball or soccer team, just pick something to focus on other than feeling alone. In attempting to accomplish your goal, you'll more than likely make friends along the way.

AG: Any words of wisdom about coming out? MD: Coming out isn't something that can be rushed. You have to do it at a moment that feels right to you and only if coming out will not endanger your well being. Coming out again at university has been relatively easy, at least for me here. My philosophy toward being out on campus has been just to be me -- not to advertise, but not to lie or hide.

AG: Now, the plain old fun: What are you "hearting" in these pre-Valentine Days? MD: I was just watching The Chicago Code -- again -- on Hulu. I'm also hearting Glee, Pretty Little Liars, Grey's Anatomy, and Law & Order: SVU. I am in love with Mariska Hargitay. I also recently discovered UK Skins and have started watching the US version, but if I were to go into detail about my thoughts on that it would require another interview.


RED Hearts guest poster Amy Goldwasser is editor of RED: Teenage Girls in America Write On What Fires Up Their Lives Today, now available in paperback.