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Early Gay Liberation Movement at Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa, 1971-1978
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Dimension 5

Dimension 5

Dimension Five, October 8, 1974, Transcript

This transcript covers the first hour of the show.

This show was broadcast October 8, 1974 on WOI-TV in Ames, Iowa; previous pages on this site explain the show in more detail. Questions were phoned in by viewers, and host Betty Lou Varnum read them to the panel, which consisted of a total of four members of Gay People's Alliance and four members of Lesbian Alliance (only six total panelists on the set at any one time). If a question was Betty Lou's own, it is not placed within single quotes ('why do …?'). Questions from the television viewers that were phoned in are quoted with single quotes. Some of the commercials (noted during the commercial breaks) seemed highly inappropriate at the time, but we couldn't see or watch them in the studio, so we had no idea what they were.


Betty Lou Varnum Betty Lou Varnum

Good evening. Welcome again to Dimension 5, I'm Betty Lou Varnum and our subject tonight is involved with two groups in our community. One is the Gay People's Alliance, the other is the Lesbian Alliance. If you have questions for the members of our panel, these are the numbers for you to call: 294-7307—and we will accept station-to-station collect calls. If you're calling from Des Moines, the number is 244-3738. And these are the members of our panel. They are, as I say, from our community, and the guests are Steven Court, Karen Moore, Dennis Brumm, Kay Scott, Connie Tanzo, and Jim Osler. Now, when we originally planned to do tonight's program, we had thought about commenting on the Marcus Welby program that ran from 9 to 10. It dealt with a very controversial issue. It has been protested against by members of the Gay People's Alliance, by members of the National Education Association, by the American Psychiatric Association, by numerous groups. It dealt with the molesting of a child. And, because we were going to be talking this evening, we asked that the members of our panel come early, and view the program, and give their reactions to it, what they felt was destructive or inaccurate about the subject as it was dealt with on Marcus Welby. If you saw that program, you would be interested not only in what your reactions were, but what the reactions of our guests are. Let me remind you about the numbers to call if you have questions: 294-7307; unless you're calling from Des Moines, and then it's 244-3738. Steven, what was your reaction to the program?



Steve Court Steve Court

Well, the thing I disliked most about it was that they didn't make any, or hardly any reference to the fact that this is not the way most homosexuals are. Not all homosexuals are child molesters, very few are…



Betty Lou Varnum Betty Lou Varnum

You felt it was very strongly implied that the teacher who molested the teen age child was homosexual?



Steve Court Steve Court

Oh yeah, but also that was how all homosexuals are; it was allowed — the impression that was how all homosexuals are — was allowed to be present in a lot of viewers' minds.



Betty Lou Varnum Betty Lou Varnum

Dennis?



Dennis Brumm Dennis Brumm

I sort of think the whole program reinforced a lot of stereotypes and myths. This child had been molested, so everybody was really afraid he was going to become a homosexual, that was one of his big fears, too. If you're forcibly raped by someone, I think if anything that would turn you off to an experience, logically. Also, the program in general, I just don't feel like I can respond to it that much cause I just thought it was pretty bad. The melodrama was to try to play on your emotions and make you feel sorry for him, and I just have no other responses, myself.



Betty Lou Varnum Betty Lou Varnum

Kay?



Kay Scott Kay Scott

Well, one of the things I thought was that even though it would be a bad experience and it would turn him off to homosexuality, by that they were implying that homosexuality was bad, and that he was supposed to be a man, he was all right, he was 'normal,' he was not like anyone else; he was not going to be homosexual, whereas, I would have liked them to approach it by saying 'It doesn't make any difference, what happened to you happened to you, and this man was sick, but that does not mean if you're going to be homosexual, you're going to be sick, too.' And they were approaching it that homosexuality is sick and therefore heterosexuality is the only norm.



Betty Lou Varnum Betty Lou Varnum

Connie?



Connie Tanzo Connie Tanzo

At one point when the father was confronted with what had happened to his son, the father said, 'They should throw all those creeps in jail!' and there was no effort to make it clear that not all homosexuals should be thrown into jail simply because a child molester had committed a crime. And, to reinforce Kay's observation about the fear that the boy had, his biggest problem after the assault was his fear that there was something he had done to encourage the assault and that he might be 'queer' and if it went to court that people would think there was something wrong with him and the wrong with him was implied in the program that he himself had homosexual tendencies, may have encouraged the teacher, or that his friends would not respect him, they would begin to ridicule him because he was possibly gay.



Betty Lou Varnum Betty Lou Varnum

Jim?



Jim (Harold) Osler Jim (Harold) Osler

Well, basically they never seemed to make the point that probably 98% of all the child molesting that is done is done by heterosexual men against little girls, and, like they said, this kid was afraid that everybody was going to think he was 'queer' or something, just because he was raped by this guy. The show itself was really pretty bad.



Betty Lou Varnum Betty Lou Varnum

Karen?



Karen Moore Karen Moore

Well, I thought it was interesting that because the rape victim was a man, the person who raped him was a bad man, and the rape victim was, OK but if the victim had been a woman, they wouldn't say that is a bad man who raped you and that man is mentally ill. He's just a man getting off his sexual desires and everything. Even from a sexist/feminism point of view it was…



Betty Lou Varnum Betty Lou Varnum

Do you really feel that the attitude of the public would have been that toward a child molester, [whether the victim was] boy or girl?



Karen Moore Karen Moore

A 14 year old girl, sure.



Connie Tanzo Connie Tanzo

Well, if the attitude were not such, that, even if they would consider that that man were ill, they would not automatically say, 'Let's throw all heterosexual men in jail because one girl was raped.'



Betty Lou Varnum Betty Lou Varnum

But you feel the implication was there that because he was homosexual that homosexuality too was a disease, rather than this man was obviously mentally ill.



Connie Tanzo Connie Tanzo

Um hmm.



Karen Moore Karen Moore

Yeah.



Betty Lou Varnum Betty Lou Varnum

We have questions that are coming in. Let me give you the numbers again, 294-7307; from Des Moines, 244-3738. Our viewers want to know 'why you as homosexuals should be any more upset by the Marcus Welby program than teachers should be because the man who did the molesting of the child in this case happened to be a teacher…'



Betty Lou Varnum Betty Lou Varnum

We have questions that are coming in. Let me give you the numbers again, 294-7307; from Des Moines, 244-3738. Our viewers want to know 'why you as homosexuals should be any more upset by the Marcus Welby program than teachers should be because the man who did the molesting of the child in this case happened to be a teacher…'



Dennis Brumm Dennis Brumm

We shouldn't, I don't think,…



Connie Tanzo Connie Tanzo

Well we should!…



Dennis Brumm Dennis Brumm

They should be upset too…



Connie Tanzo Connie Tanzo

If we are going to go in the area of education I have found that they are hesitant to hire homosexuals, if you are a known open homosexual you will not receive the same consideration as a quote 'more normal member of the community'; there is immediately the fear when one states one's homosexuality that one will, if not directly assault the children, will encourage the children to follow a lifestyle which is not that which the parents would have them follow.



Betty Lou Varnum Betty Lou Varnum

Do you think that is one of the more common beliefs that people have, that homosexuals do, that basically they will molest children, that they are child molesters?



Connie Tanzo Connie Tanzo

Well, they have children at a very impressionable age, and so most children have crushes on their teaches whether same sex or opposite sex and if the same sex teacher they have a crush on happens to be a lesbian or homosexual man, they may tend to follow that same lifestyle. If nothing else on a very practical level, parents might fear that their children will choose a lifestyle which will cause them much grief; they would like them to go the easier way.



Kay Scott Kay Scott

And parents do not fear as much when they have a heterosexual man teaching their young girls. They do not worry so much about their girls being assaulted as they seem to worry when they have a homosexual male or female teaching. Homosexuality implies something perverse to parents, whereas heterosexuality, even though something might happen in the classroom, does not imply that to parents.



Betty Lou Varnum Betty Lou Varnum

Our viewers would like to know whether or not you are stating that you do not believe that there is anything abnormal about being homosexual.



Dimension 5 Participants Several

No…



Steve Court Steve Court

No, there is nothing abnormal about being homosexual.



Betty Lou Varnum Betty Lou Varnum

And you would all agree, and let's clear that out of the way now, you believe there is nothing abnormal in homosexuality?



Dennis Brumm Dennis Brumm

Homosexuality is a viable lifestyle for someone to choose. You can have all the enrichment that a heterosexual can have, you have the same emotions, the same feelings, it's just that you're just directing them towards a member of your same sex.



Karen Moore Karen Moore

I also feel there's nothing too abnormal about heterosexuality….



Dimension 5 Participants Several

[Laughter]



Betty Lou Varnum Betty Lou Varnum

You're saying that any of the choices, you feel, are normal choices, whatever normal means.



Karen Moore Karen Moore

Whatever makes you feel good.



Betty Lou Varnum Betty Lou Varnum

What was the reaction of your two groups to the vote that was taken by the American Psychological Association…



Steve Court Steve Court

Psychiatric Association…



Betty Lou Varnum Betty Lou Varnum

Psychiatric Association, saying that they would no longer view homosexuality as a disease? You say, 'Rah,' or, 'About time!' or what?



Dennis Brumm Dennis Brumm

It was a step in the right direction, any battle that's won is part of the overall struggle. There are still lots and lots and lots of battles to be won, here in Ames, and in Central Iowa, and across the country.



Kay Scott Kay Scott

Even in the Psychiatric Association, because there are many individual psychiatrists and psychologists who do not accept the view of the American Psychiatric Association that homosexuality is a viable lifestyle, so you've got to fight the individuals as well.



Betty Lou Varnum Betty Lou Varnum

'Can gay people get along with non-gays?' We went through the business beforehand of trying to decide if every time the word 'homosexual' is used I should amplify it and say, 'or lesbian' and does the thing hold true to gays? Do you…



Karen Moore Karen Moore

Yes.



Dennis Brumm Dennis Brumm

Gay women and gay men or gay people or … …



Betty Lou Varnum Betty Lou Varnum

All right, so when the question is asked that way, I can ask it that way… I don't have to…? All right, 'Can gays get along with non gays?'



Jim (Harold) Osler Jim (Harold) Osler

We don't really have a choice; because right now they outnumber us! But we can ignore them…



Betty Lou Varnum Betty Lou Varnum

Ideally would you like not to… …?



Jim (Harold) Osler Jim (Harold) Osler

No, no, some of my best friends are straight!



Dimension 5 Participants Several

[Laughter]



Betty Lou Varnum Betty Lou Varnum

All right, so you would all say that you do get along with non gays…?



Steve Court Steve Court

Yes.



Dennis Brumm Dennis Brumm

Generally. There are specific individuals that we may not get along with because they may not accept us and they may become hostile towards us. But generally we can get along with people as long as they can accept us and get along with us.



Connie Tanzo Connie Tanzo

Underlying that question is a presumption that all gays have a lifestyle or a life that is different from quote 'non-gays,' and when I speak to classes on sexuality they want to know about the gay lifestyle and I really can't tell them. I mean, I have no specific knowledge about a quote 'gay lifestyle.' Some of my best friends, all of my best friends are probably gay, but very few friends within a specific lifestyle.



Steve Court Steve Court

Some of my best friends are in the dorm and I get along with them fine. Some of them.



Betty Lou Varnum Betty Lou Varnum

'Are you people happy?'



Dimension 5 Participants Several

[pause]



Kay Scott Kay Scott

Inflation has hit me terribly!



Karen Moore Karen Moore

The economy!



Dimension 5 Participants Several

[More slightly snide aside remarks]



Betty Lou Varnum Betty Lou Varnum

I think the viewer is interested in are you finding the burden of society's reaction…?



Steve Court Steve Court

Now that I realize I'm not sick, I'm happy.



Dennis Brumm Dennis Brumm

It's important to realize you can grow out of this oppression that we have to face and we have to deal with in our everyday life. If you channel it the right ways it can be a growing thing for you, and you can learn a lot. It can become a valuable means of, just of growth, I guess.



Betty Lou Varnum Betty Lou Varnum

Has it been more difficult for you since you publicly avowed that you're homosexual. Would it not be much easier for you to not come out and say it?



Jim (Harold) Osler Jim (Harold) Osler

I think that emotionally it's a lot easier, because you don't have to keep all these feelings inside of you hidden, and that takes up a lot of energy to keep all of these major feelings that you have hidden. There may be a few minor cases, or scattered cases, of, well, like being threatened with your life or something like that….



Steve Court Steve Court

Minor cases…



Jim (Harold) Osler Jim (Harold) Osler

Minor cases, yeah.



Betty Lou Varnum Betty Lou Varnum

Are you serious about that? Have you had…?



Jim (Harold) Osler Jim (Harold) Osler

I've never had my life threatened, but I've had people threaten to beat me up….



Betty Lou Varnum Betty Lou Varnum

Because…?



Jim (Harold) Osler Jim (Harold) Osler

Because I'm gay…



Betty Lou Varnum Betty Lou Varnum

Because they disliked like you personally…



Jim (Harold) Osler Jim (Harold) Osler

No.



Betty Lou Varnum Betty Lou Varnum

…or because you're a homosexual?



Jim (Harold) Osler Jim (Harold) Osler

Because I'm gay.



Kay Scott Kay Scott

That's one very real fear, there are very real fears about being a homosexual. Plus it can happen to you that people know; they can threaten you, beat you up, you can possibly lose your job, although they would not come out and say in your firing notice that it was because you were a homosexual. You can be thrown out of where you live, you can lose friends. That's very important, if you've had friends for a long time, and you come out and say, 'I'm gay,' and suddenly you never see those people again. So there are very real fears, but like he said, keeping it hidden takes a lot more energy and hurts you a lot more, I think, in the long run.



Betty Lou Varnum Betty Lou Varnum

Any other responses to the ,'Are gay people happy'? Is there a disservice in just the term 'gay'?



Connie Tanzo Connie Tanzo

What about the word 'happy'?



Betty Lou Varnum Betty Lou Varnum

All right, well, we can deal with 'happy,' we played with that, but the business of, the term, just the word 'gay'?



Dennis Brumm Dennis Brumm

I view that as a very positive word; there are so many negative words that society has thrown upon us, gay is a word that came out of homosexual culture itself, originally it had a double meaning, if someone thought another person might be a homosexual in the 50s when things were a lot were a lot worse than they are now, they could perhaps throw it into their conversation and the other person might pick up on it and that was like a secret code; so that's something we picked up on ourselves; generally that tends to imply to me, 'a happy homosexual' rather than just a 'homosexual' or any of the other negative words.



Connie Tanzo Connie Tanzo

There are political groups that would even take exception to the word gay. A feminist oriented group takes pride in the word lesbian because it has a history, an ancient history, and it implies something else, it implies more than a sexual definition, a lifestyle, a love of women, of women's rights, etc., so that for some people even the word gay is very frivolous and all of these words that we've used are inadequate to some extent.



Betty Lou Varnum Betty Lou Varnum

[sorting through cards from viewers] We've dealt with that one, OK… 'Why is the homosexual life so transient?' our viewers want to know. By the way, I should mention we are going to have a change in panel members part of the way through, we're going to change some of the panelists, and that's just for your information, not as any kind of a [..?] All right, 'Why is the homosexual life so transient?'



Dimension 5 Participants Several

[Pause]



Jim (Harold) Osler Jim (Harold) Osler

What's transient?



Betty Lou Varnum Betty Lou Varnum

I don't know!



Connie Tanzo Connie Tanzo

Well, university communities are transient, that means there's a great turn around. I think they're probably addressing themselves to ,'Why do homosexual couples change their composition so frequently?' which, you could question whether or not that's a truth, for one thing.



Dennis Brumm Dennis Brumm

I think this is an obvious stereotype. I think heterosexuals are just probably as transient as homosexuals, our whole society is very mobile at this time in history, and in that sense, we're all very transient. And there's a myth that homosexual 'couples' quote/end quote don't stick together or anything, which is a straight myth and is not necessarily true at all.



Jim (Harold) Osler Jim (Harold) Osler

But we do have a lot more pressures.



Dennis Brumm Dennis Brumm

We do have a lot more pressures!



Connie Tanzo Connie Tanzo

Or supports, not necessarily pressures, they could be positive pressures such as economic or legal binds which make life easier for heterosexuals.



Dennis Brumm Dennis Brumm

I'd like to know why the heterosexual divorce rate is so high, myself. Perhaps a lot of the viewers could answer that.



Dimension 5 Participants Several

[Laughter]



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