When I was a senior at Augustana, a freshman named Julian joined the radio station crew. Bruce, by then the general manager, planned to assign him a job as news stringer, someone who picked up and adapted news stories from the wire. But Julian's father, a VIP in Chicago politics, called his old friend President Treadway, and guess who became music director?
Suddenly 50% of our programming was classical music.
Julian was brash, sarcastic, elitist, demanding, and entitled. But he immediately piqued my interest:
1. He was into classical music.
2. He was black There were very few black guys at Augustana.
3. He was chubby. There were even fewer chubby black guys. The 1980s fashion was svelte.
4. And he was flamboyantly feminine, what we called a flamer back then. Obviously gay, though of course none of the straight guys at Augustana noticed.
I hadn't met any gay students at Augustana, just some guys who would accept a same-sex hookup as a last resort, if there were no girls around. So I was determined to get into Julian's life, as a boyfriend, a hookup, a friend, something.
No matter how nice I was, he remained condescending, rude, arrogant, and abrasive. When I asked him to get a slice of pizza at the Student Union, he gave me cool attitude and said "No, thanks awfully."
Offering to work the dead time of Saturday morning didn't impress him.
Befriending his friends didn't work. He hung out exclusively with giggling co-eds.
How about introducing him to my friends? One weekend I brought Brian over for a tour of the campus. We toured the radio station while Julian was in the office.
Brian was very hot. Could Julian be straight?
I decided to throw caution to the wind.
You never came out in 1982 without extensive tests to see if the guy would attack, or tell the dean and expelled for being gay.
It was March of my senior year. To be expelled now would be devastating. But maybe I could come out without actually coming out.
So I waited again until Julian was alone in the office, sitting at his desk. I dropped in on some pretense and said, "So a lot of people think Brian and I are lovers, but of course that's ridiculous."
"Yeah, he's not my type at all."
More cogitating. By talking about it so nonchalantly, I had proven myself ok about gay people. And a life of constant pretense gets lonely. I could tell the exact moment when Julian decided to make the leap.
"I don't know," he said, staring down at his desk. "I thought he was quite attractive."
And just like that, he was out.
"Not very big beneath the belt, but not everybody can have a baseball bat down there." I made a show of trying to look down at Julian's basket.
And just like that, I was out.
That Friday night we had dinner at O'Melia's (now it's Jake O's), a fancy eatery on Black Hawk Road,.
"I'm sort of nervous," Julian told me. "I've never been on a date with a guy before. I was asked out a few times in high school, but I said no. I was worried about the erotic activity afterwards."
"Why?" I asked. "Afraid you would feel guilty afterwards?"
"It's not that. Well -- you've seen me. Imagine me naked."
"I've been doing that all semester," I said with a grin.
He looked down at his menu. "You're just being nice, but you know I'm gigantic where I should be small, and teen-tiny where I should be big. I'm like one of those mythological beasts."
What did I ahve to do to boost this guy's confidence? I tried a dirty joke: "Oh, you mean a unicorn? Can I see your horn?"
After dinner we went back to the dorm, where Julian's roommate was gone for the weekend. We turned on his stereo -- Beethoven's Symphony #7 -- sat down on the bed, and started kissing and groping.
Soon I had a chance to examine his beneath-the-belt gifts in detail. Bigger than most, at least a Bratwurst, maybe even a Bratwurst+.
This was what he was concerned about? So concerned that he turned down dates in high school, and came to college with a cynical, abrasive shell?
We only dated that one time, but we stayed friends until I graduated and he went back to Chicago for the summer.
See also: My Top Black Boyfriends and Hookups; 13 Gay College Boys.