During the Summer of 1961 I took Pacific Airlines to San Jose to arrange off-campus housing for my first semesterself at San Jose State College. I stayed overnight at the Hotel Saint Claire near the campus. I had been accepted at several *good* schools BUT I wanted to be away from home, near San Francisco, and go to a ¨Party¨ School. My parents let me decide.
I no longer wanted to be ¨nice.¨ In fact, I couldn't wait to turn the page on the ¨old¨ me whom I self-appraised as a little too normal/polite (if I was to live an abnormal ¨Gayway¨ of life in a under-cover way I needed a little tarnishing). I knew there was more duplicity coming my way. What's NEW? I was prepared since birth to give them or say to them what they wanted to see/hear! However, I didn't want to keep pretending to be pure and sweet because that was portraying someone I didn't want to be!
I planned on going through Fraternity Rush and pledge a Fraternity. Instant friends?
I needed to have a home in San Jose before I moved into the Fraternity House. Living in the Fraternity House itself, still unknown, would happen in my second semester. I found approved Mens off-campus housing at a new apartment building named Lad Manor. It was nice. I was to have two other roomates, full kitchen, big living room, one bedroom, two bunk beds and I would not know my roomates before I moved in. The apartment manager made the selections as to who would be living with who (if you didn't book with friends ahead of time). Gasp!
All I knew was my soon to be roomates were Juniors and and they were transfering from St. Mary's in San Francisco. I never imagined they would turn out to be the well-known, athletic, fun, and handsome super-hunks! Now what? WE would become good friends immediately.
My new roomies took me along and introduced me to their other ¨popular¨ friends (and the dozens of gorgeous women they knew). I was happy and I was confused...what to do, what to do? One of their friends I liked very much and he liked me too. Sort of big-brothered me. He was on the football team and a member of the All-Jock-All-The-Time Fraternity, Alpha Tau Omega. Clearly ATO was the most desireable fraternity on everyones Rush Party list. Everybody that is, except me. I thought I would be trapped and/or outted and disgraced in such muscle bulging company, so, as much as I was smitten with my new BIG BRO buddy, I (thought) needed to say no. They were great guys, the ATO's, I liked them the best. They kept bidding me back. I became quietly horrified. They bid me back right up to the end of Rush Week and tried to ¨pocket pledge¨ me too!
I plotted to disappear into a very medium cool, huge membership, everyday-regular guy-kinda fraternity. I did (they didn't try to pocket pledge me and I was insulted but joined anyway). I Pledged Sigma Phi Epsilon and got exactly what I wanted...anonymity (soon I discovered membership size couldn´t conceal pettiness, mediocrity and a large bunch of unattractive homophobes who lurked/lived there).
Second semester college lesson number one for me was: Get the Hell away from these dudes. Amazingly quick, seven of us had already discovered one another at San Franciscos Gay bars (yes, we got in under age). Several ¨brothers¨ were discovered (not me) and confessed under star-chamber-like torture and then were asked to take a powder from the Fraternity. The paranoid witch-hunting-to-look-better when-serenading-sororities coven didn't want a scandal. They wanted ME, the untrapped/clean slater suspect Gay, to move into a new room, hopefully sanitized, and hang out with proven heterosexual brothers for the rest of eternity. Not for me, I escaped their ex-Gay rehab plot after spending one night under fraternity house arrest.
Later, when I passed any of them on campus they sniggered (I didn't blink).
When you got worries where do you go?