Search or Navigate

Top of Page

Early Gay Liberation Movement at Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa, 1971-1978
Lambda Line

ISU Daily: New Dimensions
September 17, 1973

Gays Seeking Open Doors

ISU Daily - "New Dimensions" September 17, 1973

The paragraphs in the article I labeled as "bullshit" (long before the advent of the internet or any thought my collection would be public) were those in which Jim Van Dyke was quoted as saying job discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation was not legal; it was.

A Daily Article With Incorrect Information from an Iowa State Bureaucrat

Gays seeking open doors

Slowly, the closet doors are creaking open and efforts are being made to establish contact between gay persons who have accepted their form of sexuality and their straight contemporaries who have not.

Members of gay groups, for the most part, still decline to give their names or be photographed out of fear of harassment or overt job discrimination.

Roy Warman, director of the Student Counseling Service, said the general attitude of society is becoming more tolerant to a diverse variety of sexual lifestyles. The fact that gay members of society are becoming more accepted is evidenced by the fact that gay organizations are functioning at all, he said.

Too, the university community itself is generally more tolerant of the homosexual lifestyle than would be another town of similar, of more conservative standards, said Warman.

But despite the increased openness of gay persons within their own social groups, problems stemming from an unknowing or hostile group of peers still make life hard.

"Being gay in a small town is a 'public secret'," said one member of the Gay Men's group when he spoke last spring before a Soc. 219 class. People may know about or guess at one's gayness, but they only talk about it in whispers, he said.

On campus, obviously, social structure of resident halls and Greek houses is exclusively heterosexual.

One gay man said he used to feel "scared" when around men. "I had a wall built around me all the while that the other guys would be talking about 'queers,'" he said.

"Generally, one guy by himself won't bother me at all," he said. But within a group of guys, it's a different story. "It must be some kind of an ego-trip for them," he said.

Once a person declares his own homosexuality, what is life like then?

According to various gay persons, once an individual accepts himself or herself, other persons' reactions or hassling can usually be coped with.

"I have good times, bad times, basically the same sorts of hassles that anyone else would have," said one gay man.

Another man said, "The friends I've wanted to know don't hassle me. Consequently, I haven't had to face any real rejection complexes."

However, for men or women who must also maintain some sort of public image, in a job or a social position, it isn't always desirable to proclaim one's homosexuality.

Although some homosexuals fear harassment from fellow employees on their jobs, they cannot be fired from their job because of their sexuality, said Jim Van Dyke of Campus Legal services.

Any minority is protected against job discrimination by some of the most stringent civil liberties laws on the books. Should such a situation arise, the employee could file suit through the Iowa Civil Rights Commission and regain his job as well as any back pay involved in the original job loss.

Furthermore, Van Dyke said, any state institution in particular, accused of any such discrimination would be subject to a massive investigation by the commission, he said.

According to several gay persons interviewed, the basic problem underlying the misunderstanding of homosexuality is the fact that society is "devoid of any attitude toward showing sexual feelings, however they are expressed."

People are just afraid of their own sexuality, said one man. People are born bisexual. If a baby has his genital area rubbed, it feels good no matter who does it."

Intersecting Symbols Line