Oct 22, 2014

Fall 2006: The Nude Car Wash

At the end of every semester, students fill out a Teaching Evaluation, answering questions about how much they liked the class.  They should like it a lot. The Evaluations are used to decide whether you keep your job, and "adequate" is typically an average of 3.5 or 4.0 (on a scale of 1-5).

That means that being out in the classroom is simply out of the question.  Just one homophobe giving you a "1" on everything can lower your class average to below "adequate," and a class of 20 is guaranteed to contain at least 3 homophobes (more if you're teaching criminal justice).

So how do I stay "in the closet" in class, at least to the3 or more homophobes?  It's really not difficult, even though I mention gay people or gay issues in every class. Heterosexuals are so eager to believe that there are no gay people in the world that just a few tricks can maintain their illusion.

1. I never mention my romantic relationships at all, ever. Hetero professors throw in their husbands and wives every ten seconds:  "Today we're covering chi square.  My wife hates chi square," or "I would have finished grading your exams, but it was my wife's birthday, and..."  Not me.

2. Several times during the semester, I mention something that happened "at church."  Heterosexuals tend to believe that being religious and being gay are polar opposites: all gay people are anti-religion, and all religious people are anti-gay.  So of course if I go to church, I must be heterosexual.

3. I mention my background in wrestling, judo, and bodybuilding.  Things haven't changed much since I was in high school thirty years ago: heterosexuals still tend to believe that all gay men are frail, wispy things allergic to muscles, so anyone who knows his way around a gym must be heterosexual.


My "secret" is usually safe.  Occasionally I get statements on course evaluations like "I think the professor is a fag!", but not often.

So I was surprised in the spring of 2006, when I taught a course in "Drugs and Alcohol in American Society" at the University of Dayton.

  There was no unit on gay people, although I think I mentioned early medical attempts to connect AIDS deaths to gay men using poppers (amyl nitrite).  At the end of the semester, a conservative fratboy business major named CJ, who was squeaking by with a C-, told me, "If you let me turn in an extra credit assignment, I'll mow your lawn every week all summer with my shirt off."

I stared, too shocked to speak.

"Ok, all the yardwork.  All summer.  Come on, a whole summer of eye candy!"

Finally I managed to say,  "I don't have a lawn.  I live in an apartment."

The full post, with nude photos, is on Tales of West Hollywood