Sunday, August 23, 2015

Roy the Farmboy Butches It Up

Bloomington, November 1982

No one came out casually in the 1980s, but it didn't take long for me to suspect Roy, the sophomore education major who worked with me at the Eigenmann Hall Snack bar.

He had big hair and wore bright colors, mostly reds and yellows.  He wore rings.  He had an overmodulated, feminine voice and a vocabulary heavy on adjectives.  His manner was a bit swishy.  Ok, a lot swishy.

We were open from 7 p.m. until midnight, selling hamburgers, hot dogs, pizza, cold sandwiches, bagels, and snack items.  There were tables and chairs, but most people brought their food into one of the tv lounges, or up to their rooms.  So we were alone a lot, and we had lots of opportunities to talk and joke around.

One night he performed "A Lil' Ole Bitty Pissant Country Place" from The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas!

One of my jobs was to replace the soda and lemonade canisters, which involved swinging 50-pound jugs over my head.  Roy watched with a cruisy gleam in his eye. "Watch it -- you'll fall," he said, and and clapped his hands onto my waist to steady me.  And "accidentally" feel my butt.

Ok, so he was probably gay.  But I wasn't going to come out to him until I was sure.

Unfortunately, we didn't work together often.  There were always two workers, one on the grill and the other on the counter, both boys or both girls --  so we'd keep our minds on our jobs, Carol, our Boss from Hell, said with a heterosexist flourish.  But she alternated the boys, and we just worked twice a week anyway, so during all of the fall 1982 semester, Roy and I only worked together four times..

The third time, just after Halloween, I still hadn't figured out if he was really gay or not, when he mentioned something about church.

Religious?  Hetero, then.  And homophobic!

"Are you having Anita Bryant as a guest speaker?" I snarked.

"What?  No, we're against...um...homophobia, you know."

What kind of church was against homophobia?

"It's a church with a special outreach to people who have been rejected by mainstream churches. Like, you know, prostitutes, and drug addicts...and homosexuals."

"MCC!" I exclaimed.  The Metropolitan Community Church, the only church for gay people, was founded by the Rev. Troy Perry in 1968.  One of the first gay books I read was his autobiography, The Lord is My Shepherd and He Knows I'm Gay.

For the record, the MCC doesn't have an outreach to prostitutes or drug addicts.  Roy put in those others to avoid completely outing himself.   I don't know why he put homosexuals at the end, as if they were by far the most disreputable of the lot.

"Oh, you've heard of us?"  Roy said with a grin.  "It's so great to meet someone else who's....come on, give me a hug!"

He hugged me, but not with the joy of one gay person finding another in the closeted 1980s.  With a cruisy tightness.  He was interested!  Next he'd be asking me for a date.

But I wasn't interested.  Roy was nice, but tall, thin, gawdy, gilded, and flamboyant.  He smelled of cologne.  He wore rings.  Not at all my type.

"I've been trying to find a MCC," I said, disentangling myself.  "The Gayellow Pages doesn't list any in Indiana."

"There's one in Louisville, Kentucky.  I'm from New Washington, about a half-hour drive away.   When I'm at home, I always go."  He paused.  "Why don't you come home with me this weekend, and we'll visit together?"

I hesitated.  I knew what "visiting" meant.  Spending the night in his bed.  I didn't find him attractive.  But...a gay church!

"Sure, that would be great," I said without enthusiasm.

New Washington, Indiana

When Roy called for me in the lounge of Eigenmann Hall that Saturday morning, I was astonished.  He had somehow managed to transform himself from devotee of show tunes to a devotee of tractor pulls, from fey and theatrical to redneck.  The rings and cologne were gone.  He had a different haircut.  He was wearing tight jeans and a lumberjack shirt.  He looked...well, rather hot.

"Ready to go?" he said, in a deep, non-modulated voice.

"I'm sorry...um...are you Roy's straight brother?"

"Hey, in farm country, you learn to fit in."

New Washington was about two hours south of Bloomington on the shore of the Ohio River, a tiny town with a few bars, a fire station, two churches, and a water tower.  He didn't live on a farm, exactly, but his house had a huge back yard that abutted a cornfield, and there was a farm next door.

We had lunch at the house with Roy's parents and brothers (one older with his own place, the other still in high school).  Roy wasn't out to them, of course, so our conversation was mostly about our "girlfriends," Darla and Jane (we made out complete biographies on the way down).

"You should have seen this boy in high school!" Dad bragged.  "Such a lady-killer -- he was always bringing girls around.  Why, I think he had more girlfriends than boy friends!"

Roy grinned at me.  "Yeah, I was friends with just about every girl in the school.  And quite a few of the boys.  The captain of the football team, for instance."

Nobody seemed to catch the joke.

In the afternoon we saw the Ohio River and went for a hike at Charlestown State Park, where Roy turned out to have remarkable stamina.

"Oh, I was up and down these hills all the time when I was a kid.  You'd be surprised how much fun I had here."  He "accidentally" grabbed my butt.

After dinner at a rather good pizza place, we settled down for a night of Diff'rent Strokes, Silver Spoons, and Mama's Family.  We claimed tiredness to avoid having to sit through Love, Sidney, with Tony Randall playing a gay man -- it would be too close for comfort.

Roy's parents put us into the room he used to share with his older brother.  There were two twin beds,

I looked at Roy, questioning.  He smiled and unbuttoned his lumberjack shirt, revealing a smooth, hard chest.  "Why don't you give me a hand?" he said.  "I especially need help getting my pants off.  They're pretty tight -- and getting tighter by the second."

I didn't need to be asked twice.

In case you were wondering: good kisser, with a Bratwurst, and an anal top.

In the morning I got up early to go for a run.  At least, I thought it was early.  Dick, Roy's teenage brother, was already up, eating oatmeal at the kitchen table.

With his shirt off -- hard, smooth chests must run in the family.

"Have some oatmeal?"  he asked.  "The family won't eat for another couple of hours."

"I thought farm folk got up with the chickens."

"Well, we ain't got no chickens.  Sit down," he said forcefully.  "I want to ask you something."

I sat.

"Are you and Roy together?  I mean, dating?  Like a couple?"

1980s homophobia required you to say "No, of course not!"  But I was too flustered. I just stared.

"Don't freak --  it's fine with me.  I knew Roy was that way for a long time.  Always with a girl, but never talking about girls, you understand?   So I figured when he brought you home, you being so obvious and all...."

"Obvious?"  I repeated.

"Well, yeah."  He dug into his oatmeal.  "No offense, but...well, you're kind of fruity.  I could tell right off that you're the girl in the relationship."

See also: The Optometrist's Boyfriend

Next: Sharing the Farmboy with the Security Guard.

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