One College Moment I Wish I Could Go Back And Re-Do

Categories: Musto on Musto

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In the 1970s, I was a Columbia student living in a suite in one of the dorms, with four other guys.

I was a virginal 18 and socially awkward--even more so than now--and not all that out and proud about my sexuality (which hadn't been acted out except in fantasies).

So when talk amongst my suitemates turned to homosexuality one evening, my gay palms got sweaty.

I didn't know how to play this, so I instantly clammed up and tried to avoid any confrontations.

And then, one of my roommates--Howie--dropped a bombshell. Chirped he: "I couldn't possibly live in the same apartment with a gay person. I could never share a bathroom with such a person or use the same towels. I just couldn't do it."

Howie paused as if he wanted applause, not as if he'd just said something misguided and bigoted, even for the 1970s. And he offered no scientific underpinnings for his argument, he simply passed on his distaste as if it were perfectly natural, then smiled, gloatingly.

Completely thrown by his ignorance, I made a face and gently expressed my disapproval--the liberal thing to do--but I never really spoke up for myself. I wasn't strong or brave enough to take a stand that would have galvanized the room and spun heads around. And decades later, I still deeply regret it.

If I could relive the moment, I'd surely play it differently. I'd screech: "Oh really, Mr. phobe? Well, guest what, nelly? I am gay, so you have been sharing a suite with a gay person! You have been using the same bathroom as him and even using the same towels as him! And you're saying you just couldn't possibly do that? Fine! Then take your pasty, dumb ass to the door and get the fuck out!"

But I didn't. Oh, well.


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9 comments
howberg
howberg

I'm the Howie you are referring to. I was your college suitemate. I am shocked and upset to read these words. I don't believe I could have said these things. I went back over my memories of my 2 years as your suitemate. I thought they were one of benign neglect. . I was always impressed with your even-then celebrity interviews.  I didn't think you were terribly friendly but that was it.

On the gay front- My best friend was openly gay, not 'some of my best friends' but my very best friend, a classmate named Richard. We were respectful buddies and only had a falling out over politics and the Middle East and attitudes towards Israel. I carefully read your account. If I said those things I was KIDDING. I don't need to list my gay-friendly bona fides. That's too silly. I just know who I am and what I'm about. If there's any misunderstanding let it be cleared up here and now. My best evidence is the 'pause' - I was waiting for laughter! Maybe my style was heavy-handed but there it is.

normadesmond
normadesmond

didn't we all have moments like yours? it was a different world....

suffice it to say, you've more than made up for it. 


nostradavid
nostradavid

A swift punch in the face would have made the point without trying to find the right words. In the moment, the first reaction is always the best. Your reputation would have soared.

SavannahMontgomery
SavannahMontgomery

Haha!  I have (sorta) the reverse scenario...I was "out" (not loud) but  proud at the same time.  And at our local gay bar was a "pretty boy" queen, who happened to be of  Italian heritage, who LOUDLY said to me,and to the rest of the room, basically what you told here...his version of course, referred to black queens...(I wasn't cruising him btw, we had friends in common,.but being the pretty boy, he "knew" everyone was).  FAST FORWARD  1990'ish...I see him in Boots n Saddles, he lived in Chicago at the time, (he still looks good, well then) and he apologizes (actually acknowledging the scene he'd made years ago...water under the bridge to me) and confesses that he's totally into black men these days. 


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duke9555
duke9555

@mikeymusto The same thing happened 2 me at NYU in the 50's i just sucked him off and we were fast friends all yr long ;-)

duke9555
duke9555

@mikeymusto Was he hot at least in a bad-boy sorta way?

Piscesboy69
Piscesboy69

@mikeymusto L'esprit de l'escalier ... :(

blissbaby
blissbaby

I wish I could re-do every single moment of my college years, if that makes you feel any better.

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