I've been on the academic job market four times, after getting my Ph.D. (2001), when trying to leave Florida (2005), and at the end of my temporary positions in Dayton (2008) and Philadelphia (2013). 10-12 interviews each time, nearly 50 in all.
So I know all the routines.
1. I will be asked about the last game of whatever sports team is popular in my area.
2. I will be told about the hotness of local girls.
3. I will usually be assumed heterosexual, in spite of my resume-full of gay-themed research, although some people will wonder, and ask sneaky questions in an attempt to find out.
4. Others will conclude that I am gay, and hide in their offices when I'm around, lest they be forced to shake hands with a queer.
5. Sometimes they have just invited me to interview so they can congratulate themselves on how liberal they are; I have no chance at an offer.
In the spring of 2005, when I was invited to Wilberforce University, near Xenia, Ohio, it was obvious even before I arrived that I had no chance of a offer. It's a historically black college. 500 students, 98% black. And affiliated with the homophobic African Methodist Episcopal Church. No gay student organizations.
No way they're hiring a gay white guy.
So I relaxed, played it cool, and settled in for my free trip.
I insisted on touring the athletic facilities, so I could see some semi-nude student athletes.
It might be fun working here, just for the pleasure of looking at the muscular physiques, and maybe scoping out a few sausages.
There were only four or five non-black students at the college, but they drafted one of them to show me around: Jordi, a fresh-faced German exchange student (top photo).
Ok, so there was some racial diversity on campus.
Now, if I could only find a gay student or faculty member at this small, closeted college.
My jobtalk (research presentation), advertised to everyone on campus, was not on a gay topic -- I didn't want to press my luck. But it did have "race, gender, and sexual identity" in the title, signaling that there would be gay content to those "in the know."
But at the reception afterwards, I was approached by a short, compact, rather buffed music major named Clintin.
"Your paper was very insightful," he said, shaking my hand. "I've noticed that a lot of gay black men refuse to admit it. They date girls, but then after the date they're in each other's dorm rooms."
Seeing my "in," I asked "Are there a lot of gay students on this campus?"
"I know a few," he said cagily. "But they're closeted, like you said. They won't even drive to the gay bars in Dayton, 20 minutes away. They go all the way to Columbus or Cincinnati."
He wasn't going to come out to me!
"Any homophobia on campus?" I asked.
"Not really. Mostly they just assume that no gay people exist."
But then someone else came over, and he clammed up.
"Come to dinner with us," I offered. "We can talk about this some more."
At the end of the dinner, when they were looking for someone to take me back to my hotel, Clintin volunteered.
"I live in Xenia, anyway, so I'll be close to home," he explained.
When we were alone in the car on the way back to the Ramada, Clintin finally came out:
"Nobody knows. You think they would suspect a flute player, but they think all gay guys are fruity little queens, and I'm built like a linebacker, so no suspicion. I can get away with about anything. When I was living in the dorm, I even had my boyfriend stay overnight, and no one got wise."
"Yeah, that happened when I was in grad school." 20 years ago!
Don't try this at home!
Never hook up with students, faculty, or staff during a job interview. Word will get out, and you won't get the job.
But in this case, I knew I wasn't getting the job anyway, and Clintin was the only gay person I knew in the state.
The moment we got into my hotel room, we were kissing and fondling. Soon I was going down on Clintin's impressive cut Mortadella and fondling his butt. He threw me on the bed and tried to push my legs in the air, but I convinced him to thrust between my legs to finish.
Then we kissed and fondled until he was ready again, this time oral.
He went down on me until I finished, and then he was ready for his third time.
Finally, around 2:00 am, we exchanged telephone numbers, and he got dressed and left.
In the morning someone else picked me up for breakfast, and I had my meeting with the president, the provost, and human resources before going back to the Dayton airport to catch my flight to Fort Lauderdale. I didn't see Clintin again.
Six months later, in August 2005, I moved to Ohio to take a job at the University of Dayton. I got an apartment in Fairborn, a far eastern suburb, got my new driver's license and car registration, joined a gym, moved into my new office, and went to work on my fall classes.
Wilberforce University was only about ten miles away, but I didn't think of calling Clintin. Surely that night was just a hookup. Why would a closeted undergraduate at a homophobic college want to date an out-and-proud professor? Who was 20 years older than him?
Then one day in the fall semester, he knocked on my office door.
"Last spring one of the frats put on a homophobic skit," he explained, "And me and some of my friends protested. We were put on academic probation, so...guess what? I transferred here, to the University of Dayton."
"A little more liberal," I said.
"Heck! A lot more! I joined the gay student association, and I started a club just for gay music majors -- there are like twenty of us. We're putting on a drag show fundraiser in October."
"Sounds like you're busy. Too busy to..."
He grinned. "Not too busy to have dinner with you Friday night, Not by a long shot!"
See also: Me and the High School Bodybuilder.