Breathe Me

Morty sent me us the below YouTube video from Baker Hall West – which is a residence hall at The Ohio State University – for National Coming Out Day (yes, I know it was yesterday!)

I am constantly amazed at how open college kids are now-a-days. It certainly wasn’t that way when I was living in the dorm next to Baker Hall some 26 years ago….in the last all-male dorm on campus.

Long before I went to OSU, I knew I was queer – and like many of these kids, lived in a small-ish town before going to a big campus. At the time, though I could admit it to myself, I wasn’t about to just tell people.

Immediately after arriving on campus, I tried scoping out the Gay Alliance (at that time they didn’t include by name: bi-sexuals, lesbians or transgendered folk). They held meetings in the Scarlet & Gray suites at the now torn-down Ohio Union. I was too wussy to go into the actual meeting but hung out in the hallway pretending to wait for someone. This way I could see who all went in and gauge whether this was for me.

And though I shouldn’t have let it, there was one guy there who kept me from ever going in. He was from my dorm, Park Hall, and lived a floor below. And a huge queen. Like I said – it shouldn’t have mattered…..but at the time it did. I never went back.

Instead I did what any other gay boy would do: I rushed a fraternity. Yes, I sought out the company of men. …and let me tell you – it’s not all paddles and hazing. Actually, none of it was.

The fact that I joined probably said more about my state of mind than anything – trying to fit in somewhere that I’m not sure I ever did. Even at the first party, a would-be brother came up to me and slurred….’are you russian…?’ I told him I was German. Of course he said ‘rushin” but who was to know. Clearly not I.

I joined a house that was fairly anti-semitic, though I didn’t know it at the time. I was probably the only student at the party when someone told the joke, ‘what’s a famous jewish w(h)ine?’ and I thought it was more a quiz. So I answered ‘Mogen David?’ I got a blank stare and then an emphatic ‘no’. But did I stop there? No. I had a second answer, ‘Manischewitz’?

I should have turned back right then.

There was plenty of sex for me in my fraternity years – just not with anyone from my house. There were a few guys who were gay – and a few more I found were gay after the fact. Actually, not long ago, I got an email from someone who read this here blog. Yes, Gooooooogle found mention of a brother’s name I posted here a few months ago and another brother gooooogled him and found me. Ahhhhh…the internets.

Steve was no one I would have ever thought to be gay – but clearly – what do I know? Via email we have slightly caught up over the last two plus decades. He even lives in Phoenix, but I did not get the chance to see him when I was there last week.

Back to the video. Yes, the kids don’t all seem to be gay, but are clearly friendly with their gay peers. Something I don’t think I would have found at Park Hall or in 1981. Though things seemingly move at a glacial pace, I think videos like this speak leaps and bounds for how the general population accepts gay men & women. I hope it does.

I know gay kids still have their own struggles, just like we did….but hopefully some things have been made easier for them.

I did cross-post this at Queer Deviations

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