I was heartened when Baylor University recently dropped its policy prohibiting “homosexual activity.” So nice the school is moving slowly into the 20th century as the rest of us fly through the 21st. But that announcement that gave me pause to reflect on my brief academic career in Waco.
Looking back on my college days I used to think, “Good times!” In reality they were a mix of good and bad, but the truth is during my freshman year, I was raped.
I enrolled in Baylor right after high school. It wasn’t because I was keen on any of their programs, though they have some great ones. It was because of two things. First, my grades sucked. Now, Baylor is not an institution that one would call a “low achievers” safety school, but I had a way in, as my father had directed the graduate studies program at Baylor Dental School, and with that position came automatic admission for his son. (Those were the days!) Second, because my dad has just died and we were not wealthy, a discounted scholarship and Social Security survivor benefits made Baylor an affordable choice.
I was going through a lot of soul searching when I was 19, and part of that was the realization that I liked men … a lot! I was still interested in women, but it was masculine energy I sought out. It was 1969, and Stonewall was in the news. The word “gay” had come into use and somehow I found it fit me pretty well. In essence, I came out to my school counselor the end of my second semester, thinking he was there to help with both career guidance and personal issues. I was wrong.
After I explained my attraction to men, his discussion turned from what major or minor I should declare to a frank statement, “I think you would be happier at a different school.” My departure at the time seemed like “good advice;” today,
I realize it was a gentle way of kicking me out.
I left after that semester and enrolled in community college in Dallas. I was much happier, so the “advice” was on target, though the motive, I now suspect, was not one based on my best interests.
That news about my one-time alma mater triggered a lot of memories — one of which I long suppressd. Baylor prides itself on its embrace of virtue. Accordingly, when I attended, there was a curfew for all female students to protect their virtues; no such restriction, however, applied to men. And the men were a randy bunch. All that repressed sex drive and lack of available females led to lots of hijinks. (It also led to the highest rate of unwed pregnancies in the Southwest Conference at that time.)
All of which led to that memory — that I was raped by several male students in my dorm room. They were people I thought were friends, and a couple even attended high school with me.
It started as some bad-natured teasing, since a couple of them found out about my attraction to men. I thought at the time they were just playing around, something which happened a lot in a dorm full of testosterone-infused freshmen. They cornered me in my room after a shower, and began joking about how clean I got. Then a couple of them held me down even as we were all laughing. At least until one of my “friends” picked up a bar of soap and told me I needed to be clean everywhere.
With that remark, two guys spread my legs as I was held face down on the bed while my friend began shoving that bar of soap into my ass.
It went from funny to frightening in seconds; his voice changed to a husky growl as he tried to fuck my ass with the soap, telling me how I liked having “something up there.”
The dialogue was right out of a bad porn movie, but was far from erotic. After a few minutes of ramming the bar of soap into me, he gave up. Obviously, it wasn’t going in and they got tired of the game. They left me face down, as I gasped and sobbed on my bed with the door open for anyone who came by to see the queer with his legs spread and bruises on his soap-covered behind.
Good times, indeed!
Funny how a little distance — in this case almost 46 years — gives you perspective. I held that pain and humiliation in all this time until it finally came out. Luckily, I am OK. I am angry that the virtuous institution had no protections in place for a guy like me, but that was a long time ago. It was the start of the real struggle for LGBT rights, and such incidents were so common it was just part of the culture. A weekend spent “rolling queers” was considered big fun and potentially profitable as you could shake down fags in the park for whatever cash they had to avoid being turned in to the police. Good times!
And now … now, my partner and I can legally marry in Texas for gawd’s sake! Times change, and, as they do, old memories are bound to resurface. Baylor lifts its ban on homosexual activity, a ban that sent me off to another school and a happier life, yet a ban that did nothing to prevent me from being raped by my “pals” in the safety of my own dorm room.
Times indeed are changing, but perhaps not fast enough. Good times!
Hardy Haberman is a longtime local LGBT activist and board member for the Woodhull Freedom Alliance. His blog is at DungeonDiary.blogspot.com
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 24, 2015.