"To foster a sense of community among gay people on campus" is the reason a Gay Liberation Front group exists at Iowa State, said Joe, a homosexual, at an open meeting held this week.
Joe said he has had contact with between 50 and 60 gay people on campus. He estimated there are between 800 and 2,000 gay men and women on the Iowa State campus. Some of these people will not admit they are gay, he added.
"We are thinking now of opening a gay house just as there are other experiments in living on campus now," Joe said. Currently the group is "basically trying to get things together for next year," he said. The group started last fall with about 12 members, he said, and has decreased to eight now; the former members, including only two women, have moved from the Ames area.
To get a gay liberation group started takes a lot of "time and prodding," he said. Gay people must get over "the fear of being known," said Al, another homosexual.
The four members present at the meeting felt no last names should have to be used in the publication of a story. Since some members of the group do not want to be harassed by a large number of students, the group decided no one person should be singled out of the group.
Al and Joe have made about 20 public speaking appearances in Des Moines and Ames this school year.
The group meets weekly to discuss personal, social, family and political problems which gay people have to confront, the members present said. The organization had its first organized meeting last November. Monday night's meeting was the group's second meeting opened to the public; the first was last December.
The open meeting along with speaking engagements are to rid the community of the misconceptions which surround the life and activities of homosexuals, they said. The stereotypes are a main problem which the gays have to combat, they agreed. Three common stereotypes that just are not true, they said, are stereotypes of all homosexuals being feminine types, gays are promiscuous in sex, and that homosexuals attack young children.
"In the future I would like to see gay liberation confront the university, community, and churches to provide a place gay men and women can be comfortable and away from oppression," Joe said. "The community has got to be aware," Al said; "things are changing because of gay liberation groups." He said the feelings and laws directed toward gays have got to change.
The group is unstructured with no constitution or officers. Different groups throughout the nation differ on how structured they are, Joe said, from no structure up to the most structured groups where membership cards are required.
He said there are hangouts on campus where gays can go to meet other gays. These places are where sexual contacts would occur, and they are places to meet other gay people, he said.
The gays at Iowa State do not use a special terminology, the group said; the distinct language use has disappeared with young gays. Joe said the older gays in the East still use a subculture language. Al said the terminology was actually started by the straight society; the gays picked the language up.
The first question the members are confronted with from straights, the group agreed, is the question, "why." The group said the question is irrelevant and stupid to them.
The public is beginning to accept the fact that homosexuality is not a sickness and gay people are normal, therefore, the gay does not need to defend himself. The question: "Why are you a heterosexual," is usually thrown back at the straight, Al said.
The straight people feel sex is the most important thing in the life of a gay, Al said, but only because sex is what straights see as the most important thing in their life. No one should be used as a sex object, the group agreed.
The group has a post office box at the Iowa State postal sub-station. The group wants to communicate with other gay people or straight people, the members present at the Wednesday night meeting said. The group would be happy to answer any questions people might have. The address is Box 1180, ISU Station, Ames, Iowa. Also, Open Line has a phone number so that a gay lib member can be contacted if the situation would warrant it, Al said.
By April, "Al" (Allen Bell) had joined the group bringing along with him the Legends of the Many Homos of the Famous Sleepy Hollow in Iowa, Marshalltown.
According to "Joe" in this article the distinct language of younger gays is on the wane. Of course he couldn't have known it might be resurrected within two years, as who could expect a great reference book like the Queens' Vernacular soon to be out and provide such wonderful inspiration for us verbally creative people?
I had told my father about my "new" identity by this time and he had acted in an appropriate manner according to his station in life with threats of body harm and screams and more threats interspersed with mention of what had gone on in the Navy in World War II, which he'd never mentioned before as I don't think until I was 19 and came out to him I had ever heard him even say the word "sex."