Wednesday, June 10, 2015

The Five Gay Guys of Eigenmann Hall

Bloomington, September 1982

After meeting no gay people  at all (that I knew of) in high school, and only a few in college, I moved to Bloomington, Indiana in 1982 to work on my M.A. in English, and within a few weeks I met four!

Four gay men right in Eigenmann Hall, the graduate student dorm, right in the 13th floor tv lounge!

Well...sort of.

1.  On Friday nights, some of the guys liked to watch The Powers of Matthew Star n the 13th floor tv lounge.  One night I knocked on the door of an optometry student named Mark to tell him it was time, and he was sitting cozily on his bed next to another guy.

 "Who's this?"  I asked, grinning.
 ", visiting for the weekend," Mark told me.

2. On the night of September 25th, I went to an adult bookstore and asked "Do you have anything gay?"  The resulting Gayellow Pages got me the number of a gay student group.  I was afraid to go to meetings, since they said that they were "monitored by the police" (I thought that being gay was illegal in Indiana).  But I did contact the group's secretary, Rick (not his real name), a doctoral student in philosophy who lived two floors down.

3. Rick introduced me to Joseph, an undergraduate in history.

4. I don't remember how I met Andrei, an engineering student from Poland.  He was on the down low: "In my country, you are expected to get married and have children, but other than that, no one cares what you do."  He would go out with his girlfriend, then call me at 2:00 am: "I'm so horny I could **** a cow!  Please come to my room!"  It wasn't hard to resist such a gracious invitation.

Honorary #5: Terry, a MFA student in theater, was flamboyantly swishy, with an overmodulated voice, fluttering hands, a fabulous wardrobe, and metrosexual hair care products.  But he claimed to be straight, and regaled the 13th floor with tales of seducing a different lady every night.

So much for Eigenmann Hall.

See also: Sharing the Optometrist's Boyfriend.

Brian asks "What is a Man?"

Rock Island, December 1971

December 3, 1971, Christmastime in 6th grade.  Bill is out of town for the holidays, and my brother and I have another boy over: Brian, who will write the graffiti about "free LBJs" on the school wall in a couple of years.  He has just moved to Rock Island from Chicago.  He is a year younger than me, with a belligerent smirk, but otherwise he is cute, with a tanned face, sandy blond hair, pale blue eyes with eyelashes so blond they are almost white, and thin, pinkish lips.

This is an older model, but it will give you an idea of his hair and face.

Brian's parents are entertainers -- Beauty and the Beast, Dad playing the piano in a gorilla mask while Mom sings risque songs.  When their Friday or Saturday night gigs run late, they have arranged with my parents to "babysit" him.

He brings his pajamas, and we read comic books and play army men and watch the new portable tv set I got for my birthday,  and at 10:00 he climbs into bed between me and Kenny (we don't get our own beds until junior high).  Then late in the night his Dad swoops into the room like a vampire and carries Brian off in his arms.

Tonight The Brady Bunch and The Partridge Family have been pre-empted.  Next comes Room 222, a drama about a hip, caring teacher at Walt Whitman High (Pete Dixon, played by Lloyd Haynes, left).  I don't usually watch -- some of the boys are cute, but the plots are too melodramatic, about prejudice and cheating on tests and the generation gap.  But you can't spent a whole evening without watching something!

The episode is entitled "What is a Man?"  The English teacher points out that in Shakespeare's day, boys played the girls' parts, and has her class try it out.  The jocks can't play girls without giggling, but Howard (Frederick Herrick) is good at it.  Soon "fag" is scrawled on his locker, and he is getting beat up after school.

Pete consults the principal, who says "Maybe we have two problems.  What if Howard is a homosexual?"

"What's a homosexual?" Brian asks, his mouth full of chocolate chip cookie.

"Dunno."  It's not explained in the episode.  When I hear it again five years later, I don't remember ever hearing it before.

I figure that fag is a tv word for a "fairy": a boy who pretends to be a girl.  Everyone at Denkmann Elementary School, teachers and students alike, thinks that fairy are the worst kind of being in existence.  Being a girl is deplorable enough; why would anyone deliberately pretend to be one?  (Later, at Rocky High, I found out about swishes, who were arguably worse.)

Howard proves that he is not a fairy by asking a girl for a date.  See, if you think you are a girl, you won't be interested in dating girls, right?

I look at Brian.  Soon we will be grownups, in junior high, and we will discover girls, like the adults have been crowing about.  And if we don't, we will become fairies, the most deplorable of human beings, not really human beings at all.

But that's eight months away, an eternity. We have all of our lives yet to live.

Suddenly I throw Brian down in a judo pin and yell "Kata-gatame!"  He flips me over and lays atop me, a heavy weight of hands and thighs, his chest heaving and sweaty, his breath hot and smelling of chocolate. We're both giggling.

Corrupting a Mean Boy

Racine, Spring 1968

Growing up strictly fundamentalist prepared me for a lifetime of civil disobedience.  We had to be on guard constantly.  Teachers, other kids, police officers, store clerks, anybody who belonged to the World would try anything, from seduction to threats, to get us to deny God.

In second grade at Hasche Elementary School in Racine, Wisconsin, my teacher, Miss Donovan, was adept at promoting evil.  She was tall and thin, with black hair and bright red lips and a perpetual scowl.   Evil.

1. She told us that proper nouns, specific People, Places, and Things, had to be capitalized.  So on the spelling test, I capitalized "Heaven," and got it marked wrong.

"Heaven is a specific place!"  I yelled.  "You can't make me say it's not!"'

Hansche School was torn down a few years ago
2. We had to do dreaded square dancing.  Nazarenes were not permitted to dance, ever.  I told my parents, who had the preacher call and set her straight, but not before I had to sit in the corner for a full class session.

3. She made us learn the expression "Nobody's perfect."  But Nazarenes were perfect!  The foundation of our theology was Christian perfection, the inability to ever commit any sins.  "You can't make me say it,"  I protested.  "It's a lie!"

Another day sitting in the corner!

I couldn't take much more of Miss Donovan's mind-control torture.

I decided on a pre-emptive strike.

There was a Mean Boy in my class named "Mean Dave" to distinguish him from Nice Dave.  He had muscles and sandy hair and a brash smile.  I didn't associate with Mean Boys much, but Mean Dave was always getting in trouble with Miss Donovan, too, and in wartime, the enemy of my enemy is my friend.  And did I mention the muscles?

We borrowed some gag gifts from Mean Dave's older brother, and while Miss. Donovan was out patrolling the kids at recess, we sneaked into the classroom and put fake vomit under her desk, a whoopie cushion on her chair, and pop-up snakes in her chalk drawer. To be on the safe side, we also wrote "Donovan eats worms!" on the blackboard.

At the end of recess, she marched into the classroom, shrieked "Who wrote this!", and forced us all to put our heads on our desks until someone confessed.  But we could hear her opening the chalk drawer -- shrieking as the snakes popped out -- then a farting sound as she sat in her chair -- then a shriek as she thought she stepped in vomit.

Mean Dave and I were discovered almost immediately. We had to stay after school, AND apologize to Miss Donovan. AND Mean Dave was not allowed to play with me anymore.  His parents said I was a bad influence.

Imagine -- a "perfect" Nazarene was a bad influence on a Mean Boy!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Cruising in the Cub Scouts

I was never a Boy Scout, but I was a Cub Scout -- for about five minutes in the winter of fourth grade.

They promoted it heavily in school, with film strips and guest speakers, and a giant assembly where they extolled the wonders of the Loud Thunder Boy Scout Camp.

Lots of cute boys hugging in swimsuits.

It sounded like a good way to increase our cruising options, and get more cute boys for our sleepovers, so Bill, Joel, and I joined.

I liked the cool blue uniforms, the Indian lore, and the various guidebooks that demonstrated how to win merit badges: swimming, diving, life saving.

And our  pack consisted mostly of boys we didn't know from class, so we did get some new opportunities for meeting cute boys.

The pack leader was cute, although I never saw him like this.

Bill and I always cut out just before the final song, "God Bless America," and ran home through the dark winter night to catch The Partridge Family.  It was fun being out after dark by ourselves.

But the benefits were far outweighed by the horrible arts-and-crafts activities!

First, we had to glue something together.  How was I supposed to know that new tubes of glue need a pin-prick?  I squeezed and squeezed, and the whole thing burst all over my scout uniform.

Not the best way to attract the attention of a cute boy.  My mother never did get it clean again.

And we were supposed to build cars out of a block of wood, and paint them.  Smelly, messy, disgusting.

But the worst was the Boy Scout Jamboree that we had to attend downtown.  Boy Scouts demonstrating inane skills, like gardening and being nice to old people.

The one I remember the most vividly is "how to build a fallout shelter" for nuclear war.  Way to put a damper on the afternoon!

The opportunity for cruising wasn't worth it.  Bill and I dropped out.  Joel stuck around.

A few years later, Harvey comics featured a series in which Casper becomes a Cub Scout.   Spooky and Hot Stuff join, too.

Apparently they are all eight years old.

I couldn't figure out why someone who regularly fights mad scientists, monsters, and aliens would want to spend his evenings glueing things together and carving cars out of wood blocks.

Unless Casper was looking for new cruising opportunities, too.

See also: Looking for Beefcake on the Swim Team and The Hookup at the Sleepover.

My First Chippendale Dancer

Bloomington, May 1983

During my first year at Indiana University (1982-83), I lived in Eigenmann Hall, the graduate student dorm, and met five gay guys on my floor.  I thought that Thad (not his real name), from two floors below, was gay, too. 

He was studying for his M.A. in International Affairs, and his father was some kind of ambassadorial aid, so he had been everywhere, from India to Zimbabwe.  He liked to play Dungeons and Dragons and write science fiction.  And he was hot, shorter than me, with a nicely muscled physique  (two of the five traits that I find attractive in men, and one day when I saw him in the shower, a third).

Sounds like a match made in heaven.

I figured that he was gay because he wasn't into sports, and he never dated girls or mentioned girls. But gradually he revealed a strong streak of homophobia:
1. We were writing a science fiction story, and he said, "Let's make them land on a planet run by gays.  Their flag can be a limp wrist.  It will be hilarious!"
2. He made up a parody song based on "Home on the Range," with a line: "Where the fags and the fairies all play."
3. One night we were watching a tv program starring my future celebrity boyfriend, and Thad said "I hear he's such a fag that he had to be taken to the emergency room to have his stomach pumped after having sex with 300 men!"
4. He saw me talking to Terry, the flamboyant M.F.A. student (who was actually straight), and cautioned "I don't know how to tell you this, but be very careful around him.  I think he might be gay."
5. He had an interview for a job with Foreign Service, and came storming back, furious.  "He had the nerve to ask if I was a fag!  I almost punched him in the face!"

By this point, I was trying to disassociate myself from Thad, but he kept sitting with me in the cafeteria, joining me in the tv lounge, knocking on my door.  It was time to take a stand.

Unfortunately, I was closeted, so I couldn't just come out to him.

So I used the same tactic I would use on my friend Bruce a year and a half later:  "It's time you got laid.  My friend Viju and I are taking you into Indianapolis, to some bars where you're sure to score."

We drove into Indianapolis, playing it cool, until we got to the Varsity Club, a mixed gay/lesbian bar with lots of "straight acting" older guys.  Thad ogled some of the women, and didn't seem to notice that they were dancing together.  He didn't notice the gay men cruising each other, either.  And no one was cruising him.

Viju started working the room, and soon was on the dance floor.

Thad noticed that.

"Hey, you'd better go talk to your friend.  It almost looks like he's dancing with a guy.  People might think he's gay!"

"So what if they do?"

"So what if they do?" he repeated in shock.  "Well, for starters, he'll get kicked out of the club!  And people will think we're gay too!"

"I don't think that will be a problem.  There are other gays here."

His eyes widened.  "Where?"

"I'm guessing those guys kissing over there."

Thad stood up, his face pale with shock.  "You brought me to a gay bar!" he shouted.  "A gay bar!"  He ran out into the street.

Since we were 40 miles from Bloomington, he couldn't go far: he was waiting for us outside.

All the way home he muttered "You took me to a gay bar!  You took me to a gay bar!"

"Relax.  Nobody assaulted you. did they? As far as I could tell, everyone was giving you Attitude."

"If anyone finds out, my parents will freak!  And I'll never get a job in the government.  They don't allow..."

"Why, are you planning to tell them?"

"It was a gay bar!"

Strangely enough, the traumatic "prank" didn't keep Thad from coming around.  So the next weekend, I told him, "Viju and I are going out again, this time to Bullwinkle's, here in Bloomington.  Would you like to come with is?"

"It's not another gay bar, is it?" Thad asked.

"I believe it gets a mostly gay clientele."

He stared at me for a long time.  Then, in a low voice, almost a whisper: "Sure, ok.  What time?"

A few months later, Thad was performing at Bullwinkle's Chippendales Night

See also: 14 Simple Steps to Turning a Straight Guy Gay.

Cruising the Miracle Mile

West Hollywood, July 1980

The summer of 1980.  I have just finished my sophomore year in college and moved to Omaha with  my boyfriend Fred.    I have met only three gay people in Omaha.  As far as I know, there are no others.  As far as I know, there are no gay magazines, newspapers, bookstores, political organizations, or social clubs anywhere in the world, nothing out there at all but a few furtive closet bars and some porn magazines.

Then my friend Tom, who moved to California after high school and is now going to UCLA, invites me to visit.  This is a perfect opportunity to escape, so I pack up my things and drive cross-country for two days, secretly intending to never come back.

I stay in Tom's room in his cousin's house in Westwood.  They are both attractive, but nothing happens except for what I call the "heterosexual huddle," what straight guys do while thinking about girls.

We see Mann's Chinese Theater, the Cinerama Dome, Griffith Park, see the Hollywood Sign, go to the beach at Malibu, cruise down Santa Monica Boulevard, Hollywood Boulevard, Sunset, Melrose, the places and streets that have been familiar throughout my life, ever since The Lucy Show suggested that Los Angeles might be a "good place."

It feels like home.

We drive through the gay mecca of West Hollywood, but I am oblivious.

We stop at Book Soup on Sunset Boulevard, three blocks from my future apartment.

I see a section marked Gay and Lesbian.

I assumed that there were only 8 Gay and Lesbian books in existence: Witchcraft and the Gay Counterculture, which Peter gave me, and the 7 on Fred's  secret bookshelf.  It is amazing that they have a whole section.

Isn't it illegal to openly sell books about gay people? Fred said it was all done by mail order, without using anyone's real name.

I'm afraid to stand in front of the section, lest anyone think that I'm. . .you know.  I pretend to be immersed in a section nearby, Psychology, and steal surreptitious glances.

I see: Loving Someone Gay, The Best Little Boy in the World, The Penguin Book of Homosexual Verse, Gay American History, Christopher and His Kind....far more than 8!  (There were actually about 30 nonfiction books about gay people in print at that time.)

Finally I gather my courage, snatch a small paperback called The City and the Pillar from the shelf as I rush past, hide it under some science fiction novels, and go to the cash register.  I don't realize until I get there that there are two naked guys on the cover, but it's too late to back out now.

I expect the cashier to scream "The sting worked!  Call the police!", or at least yell "Price check on the gay book! This guy wants to buy a gay book -- how much is it?"  But she just looks at me funny.

"What did you buy?" Tom asks.

"The Ringworld Engineers and Lord Valentine's Castle," I tell him, naming two science fiction novels.  "And some other stuff."

Later we're driving down Wilshire Boulevard when the Billy Joel song "It's Still Rock and Roll" comes on the car radio, with the line "are you going to cruise the Miracle Mile?"

"This is the Miracle Mile!" Tom exclaims.  "How's that for a coincidence?"

It feels even more like home.

If I stay in Los Angeles, I will have to drop out of college, so after a week-long visit, I drive back to Rock Island.  For now.  But in 5 years I'll be back.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Preachers, Penises, and Puppy Love: My Best Stories

I just noticed that there are 264 autobiographical stories on this blog.  They're short, averaging 700 words, but still, that's 184,000 words, the length of two regular-sized novels (or a chapter of a Stephen King novel).

In case you don't have time to read all of that in one sitting, here is a list of the best stories -- stories with the most interesting characters, most intriguing situations, most explicit sex.  Or just my favorite memories.  21,000 words -- you can knock off that in an hour.

Best Sausage Sighting.  No contest: when I was seven years old, and glimpsed my Cousin Joe's "shame" as he toweled off in the bathroom.   Biggest I've ever seen, the stuff of fantasies for years to come.

Best Grade School Date.  My first real date, in third grade, when Gary invited me to a movie, we got lost on the way out, and a hippie came to the rescue.  A hippie with muscles!

Hottest Grade School "Boyfriend." Matt, who taught swimming at the Longview Park Pool, who had muscular arms and coaxed me into the deep end by promising to give me mouth to mouth resuscitation if I drowned.

Most Decadent Story. My wild night of debauchery in fifth grade, when a boy named Mark talked me into forbidden pancakes, I got to massage his high-school brother, and I saw his wiener.

Best Nazarene Story.  The boy who stayed on the prospect list at the Nazarene church year after year, until I decided to stop by and "win" him in person.

Best Story about Dad Being Clueless. The time Dad tried to convince me to go to work in the factory when I got out of high school.  He did this by taking me on a tour of the factory, including the locker room and showers full of naked men.

Best Celebrity Date.  In high school, my date with Carl Gustav, the King of Sweden.

Best Practical Joke. Stealing the clothes of Mark, the Boss from Hell at the Carousel Snack Bar, while he was engaging in you know what in the bathroom stall.  Nice Sausage Sighting, too.

Kinkiest College Story.  My professor's handcuff party.

Most Heartwarming Epiphany.  At Indiana University, when I was all alone in the world, until I stumbled into an adult bookstore and asked "Do you have anything gay?"

Best 1980s Homophobe Story.  When Jimmy, the Bodybuilder on Crutches, brought his homophobic friend to my Halloween Party.  Also the night I drank 1 1/2 cans of beer.

Weirdest Hell-fer-Sartain Hookup.  My date with a college boy and his brother.  And their stepfather.

Best Hooking-up-with-the-teacher Story.  Dr. Bertan,
the most conservative professor at ultra-conservative USC.

 It took months of strategizing to break down his resistance.

Best Public Sex Story.  A conference at Notre Dame.  A Catholic boy who lived in the dorms.  Neither of us have a place to go.  Except the trail that leads around St. Joseph Lake.

Best Mugi Story.  The drag queen Auntie who called me Mr. Muscle Doctor Big Basket, and tried to get me to marry her cute Cambodian "nephew."

Worst Date in West Hollywood History. Me and Ryan, the little person, on a date involving a sprained ankle, a towed car, a lost boyfriend.  And those are the best parts.

Kinkiest Date in San Francisco.  The Slave Boy of Castro Street.

Best Hookup with a Straight Boy. When David and I went to the Gilroy Garlic Festival, and he bet me that I could get a straight guy into my bed.  So I cruised the college boy at the garlic ice cream stand.  It didn't work, but David went around and picked him up later.

Best Giant-Penis Story.  When Yuri and I went to Basque country, and he hooked up with the massive Garan.  I ended up being the third wheel all day, all night, and most of the next day.

Weirdest Paranormal Experience.  The Man in Black who just appeared, walking next to me on Christopher Street, and one day invited himself to my room.  Ok, he may have been a priest.

Most Heartwarming Hookup.  Jermaine, the Biggest Guy on My Sausage List, who I met in Boston while on a job interview.  

Biggest Coincidence That Really Happened.  John, the shy boy in the third row at the MCC, who I never thought to ask out.  Years later, in Florida, he turns out to be one of my housemate Barney's friends.

Biggest Regret.  Raphael, the gay psychic angel, the most amazingly attractive guy I have ever met.  Except his arms didn't work.  I never called him back, and I've been kicking myself for it ever since.

Best Sharing Story.  In Florida, finally getting to share Yuri's boyfriend, a professional baseball player.

Best Oblivious Straight People Story.  My roommates bet me that straight guy Josh, a professor at Florida Atlantic University, could never figure it out, no matter what I tried.

Most Annoying Boyfriend.  Florian, the Boy Who Cried Fabulous.  Everything was awesome, everything was the best ever.  Only homophobia could bring him down.

Best Hookup that Sounds Like a Porn Movie.  The pizza boy I cruised while back in Rock Island for a visit.  I didn't have time to follow through, so I asked my friend Dick to take over.  He did.

Best Cruised-by-a-Teenager Story. Austin, who approached me in Fairborn City Park, near Dayton,  and said he was a "sophomore."  I assumed that he meant sophomore in college.

Best Date with a Member of the Gang of Twelve.  The Satyr, a gigantic, husky Bear with a gigantic Kovbasa+ and a penchant for name-dropping.  But I was more interested in his housemate/ houseboy/ boy toy, Chad.

Best Recent Hookup.  Two weeks ago, at a museum in Indianapolis, a young, cute guard strikes up a conversation with me.  Another fantasy fulfilled.

Handcuffed by my Professor

Dr. Burton
Rock Island, May 1981

Everybody at Augustana College knew about geology professor Dr. Burton and his Handcuff Parties

Every quarter during finals week, he invited the students from his advanced classes to his house.  They had Happy Joe's pizza and soda, and the boys got to select pairs of handcuffs from Dr. Burton's collection to play with.

There were also blindfolds, gags, ropes, and rolls of duct tape, if you wanted to get creative.

 I never heard of anyone complaining that the Handcuff Parties were inappropriate. We were so naive that no one recognized the homoerotic potential of roomfuls of college boys being handcuffed and groped by their friends. Or thought for a moment that Dr. Burton might be gay.

So when he cruised me,  I was shocked.

He was a big, husky bear in his mid-40s, with a brown beard and a furry chest, and heavy muscles that might soon go to fat. Thick Bratwurst, uncut, mostly into oral.

 I spent the night at his house, and the next morning he cooked a very nice breakfast: a sort of egg and bacon casserole, potatoes Lyonnaise, and croissants with orange marmalade.

After that, Dr. Burton called every two or three weeks and invited me over, sometimes for dinner, sometimes afterwards.  I always got a very nice breakfast.  But he never brought out the handcuffs!

He explained that they were only for group play.

Well, then, invite me to the December Handcuff Party.

"But you're not in any of my advanced geology classes.  How would I explain you being there?"

So in the spring quarter, I registered for Paleontology, which turned out to be one of the most fun classes I ever had, especially in a dreary semester of heterosexist world literature.  And, during finals week in May 1981, he invited the whole class  to his Handcuff Party.

There were about twenty boys and two or three girls, mostly geology majors who had been to these parties before.  After our pizza, Dr. Burton brought out three boxes of handcuffs, showed us how to put them on and take them off without a key, and explained his ground rules:

1. Only boys can be handcuffed.
2. Don't handcuff anyone who doesn't want to be.
3. Let them loose the moment they ask.
4. No hitting, punching, or slapping.
5. Nothing below the belt
6. Keep your clothes on.

It was enormous fun handcuffing, manhandling, and pretending to interrogate cute guys, and even more fun being handcuffed and having cute guys "frisk" me like a police suspect.

But Dr. Burton wasn't participating.

"He never plays," a senior geology major explained.  "He's busy making sure that everyone follows the ground rules."

"Well, there's a first time for everything."  I grabbed a pair of handcuffs, ran up behind Dr. Burton, and quickly pulled his hands behind him and handcuffed him.

The room got very quiet.  Everyone stopped what they were doing to watch.

I expected Dr. Burton to get angry, or ask to be released immediately, but instead he said, "Ok, you got me fair and square.  Now, what are you going to do with me?"

Instantly he was swarmed by guys, pushed down into a chair, and gleefully manhandled, while he laughed and struggled and protested.  Someone even broke the rules and unbuttoned his shirt to caress his furry bear chest.  Maybe it was me.

As the party was winding down, Dr. Burton thanked me.  "No one ever thought of handcuffing me before," he said.  "It really made me feel like one of the guys."

He continued to invite me to his house every two or three weeks, but I didn't take any more geology courses, so I wasn't invited to any more Handcuff Parties.

I almost changed my major, just so I could go.

See also: 12 Teacher Hookups


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