When I was a teenager, I could get away with any stupid mistake by claiming that I had been trying to meet girls or impress a girl. Actually, everyone assumed that the reason every boy did anything, from joining a school club to selecting a college, was to meet girls or impress a girl.
In gay communities, they don't make such assumptions. If you join a garden club, everyone assumes you like gardening, not that you're trying to meet guys or impress a guy.
So I have no excuse for going to a meeting of the Log Cabin Republicans.
Except this one:
He kept grinning at me during class, especially during the lecture on gay Christians, and after the final grades were posted, he stopped by my office to cruise, just as I had with my own professor back at USC in 1986.
Over coffee, Tom told me that he grew up in, and was still attending, the Calvary Chapel, an ultra-fundamentalist mega-church.
Religious! Just my type! We bragged about the deprivations we faced growing up fundamentalist. No movies -- no theater -- no eating out on Sunday -- and so on.
"Of course, I'm not out to my parents. They would just start yelling. Almost as loud as if I told them I turned Democrat!"
I interpreted this to mean that he was not out to his parents as gay or a Democrat.
"There's a Christmas party at the club next week," Tom offered. "I'll have to introduce you as my professor, not my date, and we can't dance, but...anyhow, can you come?"
It was fun going undercover in a roomful of conservative, rich, straight people. I met Tom's teenage brother and trio of hunky country-club buddies, and his parents, who said things like "Tom just thinks the world of you! He found your class so enlightening!"
Everyone asked about "my wife." I said she wasn't feeling well.
The dancing was a bit uncomfortable. Tom had no problem cozying up to teenage debutantes, but I stood on the sidelines, being cruised by innumerable middle-aged ladies and not one man.
Afterwards we drove (in separate cars, of course) to the beach to walk in the moonlight, and then we went back to my house in Wilton Manors to spend the night.
I should have guessed earlier, but I was having so much fun deceiving the straights that it didn't occur to me that Tom's conservative-speak was not part of the act.
"That homophobic a*hole!" my housemate Barney exclaimed. "He's worse than Reagan!"
"Reagan did a fine job, considering what he had to work with," Tom said. "Remember, it was the 1980s."
Then Tom came out: he was a Republican!
"How can you be a gay Republican?" Barney asked. "It's like being a Jewish Nazi, or a black Grand Dragon of the Ku Klux Klan!"
"You can be gay and still want a strong economy. I know that some of the Republican leaders need to be educated."
"Educated?" I said. "President Bush is trying everything he can to keep us second-class citizens. But he's a lot better than Governor Jeb Bush, who doesn't think we should grant civil rights to 'sodomites.'"
"What about the mayor of Fort Lauderdale, Jim Naugle? He doesn't like the Sun-Sentinel because there are too many 'homos' on the staff, and he's a Democrat. All of our leaders need to be educated about gay people. That's what the Log Cabin Republicans are all about."
Log Cabin Republicans!
So this guy wasn't just pretending to be straight among his parents and their friends, to make sure he got his inheritance. He was Tom the Uncle Tom, actively collaborating with our oppressors.
I should have showed him the door. But....
We went out again after I got back from my Christmas visit back home.
And I ended up going to a meeting of the Log Cabin Republicans with him!
It was full of doddering, elderly, elegant gay men wearing fancy rings, sipping martinis, complaining about America's faltering role in world politics, and cruising. They approached the few young guys shamelessly, ignoring the rule that younger must always approach older.
I kept my arm tightly attached to Tom to signify that he was taken, but he still got extensively cruised.
"Guys who are into Daddy types must get a lot of action here," I whispered.
"Oh, you have no idea!" Tom said with a smile.
The "celebrity" guest speaker was Ruta Lane, an elderly actress who was in some Westerns and sitcoms during the 1950s. She said "You should keep trying until the Republican Party gives you a place at the table."
"Wait -- your own party won't acknowledge you?" I asked.
Tom squirmed in his seat, embarrassed. "We're still working on them. They need a lot of education."
So they weren't even Uncle Toms. They were Uncle Tom Wannabes, just hoping for a chance to collaborate with our oppressors.
Or were they all just there to meet guys, or to impress a guy?
The Log Cabin Republicans were finally recognized by the California GOP in 2015. The national organization still won't acknowledge them.
See also: I Hook Up with the Most Conservative Professor on Campus