Jan 24, 2014

Spring 1983: Thad and the Chippendale Dancers

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.