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

ISU Daily: New Dimensions
September 17, 1973

Paranoid Reporter Finds People at Gay Dance

ISU Daily [and] "New Dimensions": September 12 (Ad) and 17 (Article), 1973

Gay Dance Announcement

Gay Community Alliance schedules free dance

Members of Gay Community Alliance of Ames are sponsoring a free dance Saturday night, according to Dennis Brumm of Ames.

The dance will be held from 9:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. at the Unitarian Fellowship , 1015 N. Hyland, Brumm said. The dance will be free, by donations are welcome, he added.

Everyone is welcome to attend the dance, Brumm said.

Yet More Daily Stuff

Paranoid reporter finds people at gay dance

Covering a gay dance is a task that can present problems for a reporter, such as what to say, what to do, how to act.

The publicity sheet announcing the Sept. 15 dance at the Unitarian Fellowship, 1015 N. Hyland, has said "everyone welcome." So I arrived early and stationed myself outside so I could first observe some of the guests entering. From my vantage point I could see several cars cruise past the church, the passengers scanning the surroundings, then circling back to park.

Once inside, my 'contact' introduced me to other guests, though no one seemed overly pleased with my identity as a reporter. One woman threatened me with a lawsuit if I mentioned names in the article.

At first I tried to act like one of the crowd as I sat in a chair at one end of the room. However, my strangeness must have been sensed because everyone seemed to be pointing and sneaking glances in my direction. I retreated downstairs in hopes of talking to individuals who might come down to rest.

My conversation was with an Iowa State graduate who had married, and fathered two children, before he admitted to himself that he was gay.

"Gay life in Ames is very underground," he said. "Ames is just too small for a gay movement. In Des Moines there are gay bars to go to but here there is nothing. We usually have parties of our own. I've had parties where more than 100 persons came."

"I came to talk to you because I didn't want you to think that this is what gay life is like here. Most gay people I know are against gay liberation because they prefer to work underground. You've got to remember that basically, people are afraid of us," he said. With that he returned to the dance.

My presence as an eager 'sounding board' must have been noted because another man, also formerly married, explained his gayness to me.

"It's like you are born one day and find out that you are green and everyone else is white. You paint yourself white to conform, but deep down you still know you are green and you think that you are the only green person in the world."

"Pretty soon you find that there are other green people painted white and you try to find them. That is what this dance is all about. It helps to legitimize everyone's greenness. There are even different shades of green and some people outgrow their greenness in time."

By now there were several persons in the room, all of whom were speaking freely.

"Almost all mammals show some forms of homosexuality," said one man. "But with man it's a problem. In fact, in the Kinsey studies it was shown that over 30 per cent of those people studied had had some kind of homosexual experience."

One of the observers asked about the gay groups on campus.

"We're trying to get organized right now but are running into trouble because everyone has different goals," said a gay men's group member. According to the Chart, however, the university cannot refuse to recognize us, and as an official university organization we could receive university funds. Iowa City's group received $800 last year."

"When did you admit you were gay?" asked another observer.

"It was when I was 19. I'm 21 now. It was really chaos in my mind because of all the negative conditioning I had had about homosexuality. I also had a big fight with my father."

I found that from talking to these people that they were very much afraid of being rejected by their families. They could tolerate abuse from outsiders but when their own families disowned them they became very upset. For this reason many had kept their homosexuality from their parents.

One man said, "My parents don't ever know. If they did they would disinherit me."

This secretiveness can be a problem too, several individuals agreed. With the constant pressure of secrecy, many try to find persons to confide in.

Some have confessed their homosexuality to friends. Some friends can take it in stride, but for the most part they get very upset about it, one said.

The man who admitted his homosexuality at 19 said, "I told my roommate I was a homosexual and the first thing he did was call his mother. Our friendship deteriorated rather quickly after that."

"I had the same experience," yelled another guy from across the room."He (roommate) must have thought I was going to rape him or something because he's moving out now."

The only female I talked to claimed that males were more hung up about homosexuality than females.

"Gay women have more in common with straight women than gay men have in common with straight men." She said men are trained to see homosexuality in men as something feminine and are also trained to look at femininity as inferior. Women, however, form a sisterhood because they are always looked down on and for that reason stay closer together, she said.

"Males are always on a dominance trip. It's harder to be a homosexual female because it's harder to be accepted as a female in the first place," she said. Though some of the guests either were afraid or simply had no desire to talk, those who did seemed not as bothered by homosexuality as they were by the public's unwillingness to accept its existence. They didn't want to change the world to their way of thinking, but only claimed to want to live their own lives in peace.

"We want to live out lives without secrecy," said one woman.

And one of the world's lesser known literary figures might conclude: "A person by any other name is still a person."

The Personal is the Political

I remember this dance, but not so terribly well, I guess. I believe we didn't expect a reporter at this particular dance. I have tried to figure out who was being quoted in the article.

"Gay life in Ames is very underground," he said…. (father of two children) - I cannot remember who this might have been, but it had to have been one of the generally non political people since I can't think of anybody who would otherwise fit the description. Also, I say that because our own (social) parties never had 100 people at them until at least 1975 or 1976; we really were mostly too poor to provide decent hors d'oeuvres until then!

I thought that the "Green and white" person was David Windom, but now I think it may be Joey Franko (Harold Osler remembered this better than I).

Kinsey statistics were generally quoted by yours truly. I was always impressed by statistics.

"We're trying to get organized now…," a famous line, was that Allen Bell??? It could have been any of us.

"It was when I was 19. I'm 21 now." - Definitely yours truly, Dennis Brumm, again.

"My parents don't even know. If they did they would disinherit me." This sounds familiar, but I can't remember who was afraid of being disinherited. Maybe somebody else who had large parties catered by unknowing parents!

"I told my roommate I was gay and the first thing he did was tell his mother," - again that is yours truly. My roommate Kyle had an interesting relationship with his mother, I always thought.

If anybody else remembers more, I'd be interested in knowing what and gladly post it on this page.

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