Nov 19, 2016

On My Knees in the Teaching Assistant's Office

San Francisco, May 1997

I liked chemistry class in high school -- or rather, I liked the fact that it was 90% cute science nerds who carried calculators with the logo "Chemistry is Chool."

But in college, I had constant problems.

I was lost in the lecture, and I couldn't get the equipment to work in the labs.  I dropped Chemistry 101 twice.

Over a decade later, in San Francisco, I was dating Kevin the Vampire, who was totally into the sciences, talking about atoms and molecules almost as much as he talked about hot guys.  Gradually I developed a passion for the sciences again.

"You liked chemistry in high school, didn't you?" he told me one day.  "Why don't you become a chemist?  You can get your undergraduate work done right here, at San Francisco State, and your doctorate in Berkeley, across the Bay, and give up this silly idea of going across the country to New York to do graduate work in...what was it...ring tossing?"

Kevin really didn't want me to leave.

"Are you kidding?  I'd have to start over, take elementary chemistry, calculus, physics, then the advanced classes, before going to graduate school.  It would probably take ten years.  I'll be 46 years old when I get my Ph.D."

"And how old will you be in ten years if you don't get your Ph.D.?"

So in the winter 1996-97 quarter, I enrolled in Chemistry Class #3.

San Francisco State University was only 5 miles from the Castro, 20 minutes away on the Muni, but still, I felt like I was going into another world.


90% of the students were male, cute science twinks but intensely heterosexist.  I was asked about my "girlfriend" and "wife,"asked to comment on this or that actress, nudged when an attractive girl passed.

The lab was taught by a graduate teaching assistant, Seth.

Granted, he was rather cute: tall, slim, pale, with a shock of blond hair, blue eyes, horned-rimmed glasses, prone to wearing button-down shirts and black slacks that showed a substantial bulge.

But he was imperious, a stickler for the rules, rather nasty to the students, and very, very heterosexist.  Apparently he was from Marin County, the rich heterosexual enclave north of the Golden Gate Bridge, and he had never heard that gay people exist.

The full story, with nude photos and explicit sexual situations, is on Tales of West Hollywood