Welcome to OutWrite’s “From the Archive” series! This series is designed to provide an opportunity to interact with our organization’s archives, assess the opinions and relevance of our past content, and bring that content into the present. In doing so, this series will applaud, critique, and put into conversation ideas of the past with present ideologies and dialogues. Overall, we at OutWrite hope this new series opens up conversations and helps us reconnect with the past while striving for a better future.
*The following article no longer serves to represent the thoughts of the organization today.*
TenPercent Fall 2000
Sleeping With The Homophobe
By Jordan (Guest Writer)
A personal account of the Pepperdine experience as a cute, congenial gay boy living ini the dorm with a far from queer roommate.
Los Angeles, one of the largest cities in the world, has a reputation centered on liberalism and diversity. It would [appear] to be a safe haven for a gay Southern boy fleeing a conservative community. While my trek to the West Coast was well thought-out and brimming with expectation, I overshot by about 10 miles. Instead, I sit here, in a spacious dorm room in comfortable, classy, and utterly conservative Pepperdine. The campus is beautiful, with an [incomparable] ocean view and beach access. The teachers are well-educated, kind, and challenging. The students generally seem to come from cynical, sheltered backgrounds.
I first noticed that something was queer (if you will) about this place when my roommate casually dropped “all fags should be lynched” into a conversation. I failed to notice this right away, since it was only our second or third conversation and the subject was local restaurants. It did not take me long until I realized I was living in a homosexual hell.
More commonly than in the Deep South, the word “fag” took the place of “idiot” or “moron,” and anytime someone mentioned homosexuality in a serious sense, the word “sin” is quickly used to combat it. Just as the short fat bald man in “Princess Bride” enjoyed saying “inconceivable,” “sin” seems to be a Pepperdine student’s word of choice.
The students here live ideologically comfortable lives, while I am forced to conform to their chosen lifestyle. My computer, full of pictures of cute boys and e-mails from my gay friends, is protected with a password whenever I am not in front of it. While my roommate cranks up the Led Zeppelin and hip-hop, I rock out to my boy bandpop music in my own privacy, always using my headphones. In my desk, what I affectionately call my “gay drawer is full of XY Magazines and pictures of an ex-boyfriend, which is something that remains carefully hidden. My weekly escapes to sanity (Westwood) have led my suitemates to believe I have a girlfriend. Basically, the life I lead compared to the life I allow them to believe I live are different to the point of being almost unrecognizable. My roommate, in particular, is [a] difficult person. Racist, bigoted, and homophobic, he is all a neo-Nazi cult would ever want, except that he is immersed in Christianity. Personally, I have no problems with devout Christians and those who live through religion. When religion overtakes the mind, however, problems ensue. For instance, my roommate holds stead fast to the maxim that whatever his parents and the Bible say is and will forever be correct. Our discussions about homosexuality usually end with him saying, “It’s just immoral and wrong; the Bible says so,” or more frequently, “You ‘re just immoral and wrong; I say so.” I used to pity him for making comments like that, but lately they are generating a lot of tension between us. He has no clue that I am gay. He tells me all the time that he appreciates me, because if he had a gay roommate, he would become moderately violent (“I’d kick him in the face”) and switch immediately. According to him, he has never conversed with a homosexual person, even though I introduced him to my friend Justin, whom my roommate called, “a cool guy,” until he was informed of Justin’s sexuality. After that he was simply confused and refused to talk about it.
The sad thing is that it does not end with my roommate. Without making a huge generalization, much of the Pepperdine campus fóllows a philosophy kindred to that of my roommate. Even more depressing is that quite a few of these closed-minded people send my acute gaydar off the charts, but they seemingly cannot accept themselves for who they are. After nine weeks of school, I have encountered only a select few open-minded people.
The greatest lurking question is, of course, “Why haven’t you gotten the Hell out of there?” My times spent at UCLA are refreshing, and there is a transfer application on my desk at the moment. Part of me wonders, however, if I can make a difference here. I do have many friends on campus; my relationships with them grow every day. When I believe I have obtained true, lasting friendships with them, I will reveal my secret to them. Although it would cause some stress and hardship in my life, it could help enlighten and cause people to accept me and other gays in the community. As for my roommate, even though a true, lasting friendship does not appear to lie on the horizon, he will, also, eventually be enlightened about my secret. If I get kicked in the face, then so goes life, but for the rest of his life, he has to live with the fact that for an entire year he lived with a homosexual. If he wants to accept it, then he can become a better person, but if he continues to resent it, then the emotional burden is his. Until the day I am out, I remain straddling a dichotomy: visual paradise coupled with social hell. If I can, in my own way, help to transform that social hell and introduce more friends to the gay community, then my four difficult years here will certainly be worth every awkward moment.
*Commentary and analysis to come*