Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Blade campus series covers William and Mary, bringing back my own pre-history


Brent Adams Mundt has a series in the Washington Blade about alumni returning to certain select college campuses near Washington DC and show how things changed and got better over the years and decades.
  
On April 26, 2013, the series tells the story of Jeff Trammell, from the Class of 73 at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, VA.
  
The link for the story is here.
  
This story is of interest to me because, as my readers know, I was forced to leave William and Mary during my freshman fall semester in 1961 for “admitting” latent homosexuality to the Dean of Men, then Carson Barnes.

The details form the first chapter of my 1997 book “Do Ask Do Tell: A Gay Conservative Lashes Back” (check Amazon or iUniverse). I also described in great detail on my posting on the “BillBoushka” blog (follow my Blogger Profile to it), Nov. 28, 2006.  That was the 45th anniversary, to the date (a Tuesday) of my expulsion.

To recap very quickly, we did not go home for Thanksgiving, and I found a handwritten note on my dorm door in Brown Hall to go see the Dean, then in the Wren Building, second floor, west side, at around 5 PM on Friday Nov. 24.  Apparently he had waited in his office for some time for the meeting.  He called my parents, who were visiting friends in Charlotte, NC,  Friday evening around 8 PM, and they came on Monday, Nov. 27.  Such a call must have seemed both mysterious and traumatic.  Imagine a short film based on how they would have reacted.

In those days, there was hazing of freshman.  I had deliberately skipped their "tribunals" the last Friday im September (1961), where in some dorm basement "they" allegedly shaved the boys' legs.  I remember being harassed one time in the cafeteria by some football players, running around (shaved) in their playing jerseys.  
     
I would attend college from home, at George Washington University, and graduate in early 1966.  I would then earn an M.A. in Mathematics at the University of Kansas and live in a dorm (McCollum Hall) for two years without incident.  I would take the draft physical three times to erase the “stigma”, finally pass, and get “drafted” and serve two years in the Army.  Basic Training was harrowing (Chapter 2 in the book) but I would spend two years in a sheltered assignment because of my education. The irony would stay with me when President Clinton first proposed lifting the ban on gays in the military, leading to my first book. 
   
Also, in 1962, I would spend six months as a quasi-inpatient at NIH in Bethesda MD, in a Kennedy program to look at college students who had trouble “adjusting”, though then to be a security issue in the Cold War. 
  
The therapists were very concerned about my “fantasies” and the existential meaning that could be deduced from them, and how I could set a dangerous example for others.  I think they were also concerned about my parents’ marriage, because as an only child, I had presented them with the shock of no lineage. Their marriage did flourish though, for 45 years, until my father died in 1986 (mom died in 2010).  To sum up, culture in those days saw procreation as mandatory.
  
I have interacted with William and Mary GALA, as I detailed on this blog Oct. 23, 2011, regarding the GALA dinner in the Wren Building, for the organization’s 25th Anniversary.
  
I seemed to be the only person in the group who did not graduate.  In 1963, a student named Tom Baker had an issue, but he eventually graduated.  He tells his story in the autobiographical novel “The Sound of One Horse Dancing”, reviewed on my Books blog, March 22, 2012.  He says that he was actually put in the infirmary at first because homosexuality was viewed as an “illness”.  Perhaps that is minimal progress from what happened to me.
  
I have thought about writing William and Mary, maybe through an attorney, and asking at least for a detailed explanation of what happened (there seem to be a lot of loose ends in the circumstances).  I have discussed it with the ACLU (Atlanta office for Virginia).  I believe that the college would tell me that I could have returned had a psychiatrist signed off on it.  As things would unfold, it was not practical to do so.
  
I will probably contact the Blade and writer Brent Mundt about the series in due course. The blog post is a good place to start.

See also my review of the film "Equality U", Sept. 20, 2011, a documentary about gay college students on hostile campuses, on the Movie Reviews blog. 
  
The media has covered the announcement of NBA basketball player Jason Collins that he is gay. I gave the relevant links in an update to my posting here April 24.  He is said to be the first professional sports player to “come out” while still playing (he is 34).  Will it happen in MLB?  

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