On the A&M campus: to each, one’s own. FEBRUARY 13, 1981 sort through a strange predicament known as life. As with any other group of young men freshly released from the clutches of Ma and Pa, a few of the new arrivals inevitably came to sense a stirring which they knew to be different. They handled it with discretion. That discretion was advisable amid the gungho male camaraderie of the Corps, but in a larger sense it was appropriate to military life and to the conditions of a small East Texas community. In the 1970s the civilian student body at Texas A&M increased dramatically, shadowing the cultural movements of the sixties and seventies. A&M could not remain unaffected. Perhaps it was less affected than other college campuses, but it should be noted that Texas A&M overlooks Bryan and College Station. Columbia, on the other hand, overlooks Harlem. The University of Texas overlooks Austin. The difference in cultural awareness can be explained most simply by A&M’s geography. The isolation of this area was, and is, a college administrator’s dream. Cadets like to say that gays came to A&M 10-15 years ago, about the same, time female enrollment began \(“wags been on campus for years, but not until the last decade have they made their presence known. Gay liberation hit A&M in 1976 when a group known as the Gay Student Serrecognized as a campus organization. Student groups which receive official recognition may be allotted a cubicle in the Memorial Student Center and may receive student service fee money \(colto pay for activities. The administration denied GSSO’s request. GSSO sued, but the case was dismissed in 1978 by U.S. Dist. Court Judge Ross Sterling of Houston. Attorneys for GSSO, Larry Sauer and Jay Patrick Wiseman, petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to allow GSSO to file the suit, and the court ultimately decided in GSSO’s favor. Wiseman and Sauer re-filed the case in Sterling’s court, but a ruling may be up to three years away. “There is Wiseman. “But as you can see, they portunity. And of course you know the state can use the taxpayers’ dollar to fight these cases in court whether they have any merit or not.” Nonetheless, Wiseman is cautiously optimistic. “Sterling is a good judge,” says Wiseman, citing Sterling’s ruling in 1976 awarding $56,000 to Harris County accountant Gary Van OoTeghen, who was dismissed from his job when he asked his supervisor if he could appear before Harris County commissioners to ask for a resolution regarding equal employment opportunities for gAys. While the court battle continues, GSSO is taking a low profile. Another College Station gay group,. Alternative, carries on with the organized gay pride activities. The Alternative board of directors meets about once a month to take care of the Gay Help Line \(listed under Gay Student Services in the Bryan teleefforts. Alternative estimates there are 8,000 gays in Brazos County, population 90,000. That’s based on a Kinsey report suggesting about 1 in 10 men are gay. Alternative meetings draw only about 20-25 people, about two-thirds male, one-third female. According to a board member, “People don’t want their names on a list that says they are gay.” Astraptes Gays in Aggieland might not want their names on lists, but they are more willing than ever in the history of the school to associate with each other in public. For years, gay Aggies had to go to Houston for socializing, and although many still do, nowadays there are places closer to home. But not the Sports Club. Another place. It’s called Astraptes and is located on Wellborn Road, less than a mile from campus. Seventy-five percent of the usual Astraptes crowd consists of students. Other patrons work in Bryan-College Station or in surrounding towns such as Navasota or Hearne. “I’d rather work here than at any other club in town,” says Virginia, the manager. “There’s never any trouble.” Indeed, a straight observer is impressed with the easy nature of the atmosphere; one realizes more poignantly that a person who hates and suppresses gays is wasting a lot of energy. Besides, he may find some surprising faces among his chosen enemies. Virginia wants to write a book about gays. “You know,” she deadpans, “gays are people, too.” Some of the people in the club look as if they belong to a drilling crew from one of the local oil fields; the bartender is a clean-cut cowboy. Doctors, farmers,
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