After two years of groping for some basic footing, the local Gay Men's group is formalizing their organization to approach GSB for recognition.
The decision to formalize was reached this year when older members felt that the success of the group during the last two years had been less than expected.
"Last year we came in, sat around, and the group had no real purpose," says Alan (sic), one of the original members. "But this year we decided to formalize to save the group."
The men's group decided that to formalize, they needed a constitution which would briefly define group goals, and establish a leadership composed of two co-chairmen.
Another factor influencing the decision to formalize was that several older members felt that unless the group formalized, they would quit, Alan added.
The need to formalize was approved by all members, but the purpose and goals of the group remain undefined.
Some members feel the group should be more person-oriented in helping new members to accept their gayness, and to feel comfortable within themselves and those around them.
"I need the group to help me get my head together," said one new member.
Those who have been in the gay men's group since its inception can empathize with newer participants' problems, but some say they are no longer satisfied just to sit around and rap.
"I've gone through all the rapping for three years, and now I want to work socially; repealing laws, and making people aware of the gay person as a worthwhile human being," Alan added.
"Society is going to maintain the image it has of us unless we give people greater and more objective information as to what homosexuality is all about," said another matter.
Though the Sept. 16 meeting didn't accomplish a formal definition of the group's purpose, the consensus was that it should include helping new participants accept their gayness as well as informing the public as to what "gay" really means.
Wording of the proposed constitution presented problems in agreeing on terms.
Several members objected to the word 'liberate' as used in the constitution, saying that the word was too strong. To liberate implies challenging other people's beliefs, said one member. Others thought the term too activist or militant, implying that they were going to "ram gay down people's throats."
On the other hand, other members said that in today's society, "liberate" does not have the bad connotation it once had. Men, women, old people as well as the young all seem to be striving for liberation, one member pointed out.
Although the men's group at ISU is only three years old, progress within the group has already been noticed by some members.
About 20 persons regularly attend the weekly meetings compared to about five attending two years ago, Alan said.
"The fact that gay dances are being sponsored, and that about 70 people attended our last one also demonstrates a positive change from the past," he said.
Dennis Brumm, of Ames, another original member, added that until this year the group was quite "introverted," among themselves, and with the public. When they decided to formalize with definite goals, they became more open as individual members, he said.
"We need structure and goals to profess," Brumm said.
Even though the gay men's group has had some positive changes in the past, several members still feel that the majority are not ready to proclaim their gayness.
As Alan and Denny both said, the group is there to give moral support. "Sometimes it's just easier to relate to another gay because to call oneself gay is really saying a lot in this society," Alan said.
The meeting ended without a constitution being written, though they are hoping to accomplish that next week.
The group is friendly, and the discussions are informal so anyone can express his or her opinion, and as Alan says, "Anyone — gays, straights, men or women — are all invited to attend. This is considered an open meeting, so we can't discriminate."
Hey, Allen Bell was allowed to call me Denny, Joey Franko called me Denny, but who told this Daily reporter he could call me Denny?
I was warned by certain, um, dare I say paranoid, elements within the gay (well, OK, the lesbian) community that I would be given a dose of heavy reality and receive horrid personal harm by allowing my picture and name to be printed in the Daily that September. They felt I could expect the flames of hell to open up and suck me in when people came en masse to kill me. It was a lot like the paranoia I felt in 1971 when I first came out. I didn't feel that way anymore and just said, "We'll see." And indeed nothing much at all happened to me after this picture was published. Quite a disappointment for those who predicted my demise. Life continued as before. A couple of older janitors, my gig at the time for the ISU Physical Plant, would never smile at me again, but hell, that was OK. And that memory logically brings up the topic of janitors as a Counterculture force to be reckoned with!