Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Just Take the Train

Another experience from Connie:

"In 1964, at the age of 13, I attended the Boy Scout Jamboree at Valley Forge. The council arranged for us to be transported across the country in Pullman railroad cars. The compartments were designed for one person, two if intimacy was desired. Despite the intimacy thing, we were made to "buddy up". To this day, I'm not sure why the "buddy" assigned to me happened to be the most obviously gay kid in the troupe. Maybe I wasn't as convincing with my overcompensation as I thought. For two weeks, as we choo-chooed across the country, I was teased by many of the boys and called "homo". All I could do was up my overcompensation, and I got in a couple of fist fights (something I had tried hard to avoid my whole life). 

Inside the compartment, it was like "The Odd Couple" - my Oscar to Bruce's (yes, his name really was Bruce) Felix. At night, attempting to sleep with a gay boy in a single bed really brought out the homophobia in me. Of course, in those days, I wasn't sure just what I was myself - but being gay was one of the possibilities that I was reluctantly imagining. (to play on your words, I was not interested in "finding" Bruce's "accepting unit"). It's not that he ever tried to do anything, but I worked at being as antagonistic as I could toward him so that he wouldn't take a liking to me at all. It's really too bad, as we each had our respective "secrets" and could have bonded and supported each other had we felt free to talk about them.

Just as we reached New York, I picked a fight with Bruce that ended our "roomie" arrangement, as the scoutmaster finally realized we were not a good match. The teasing stopped for me then, but, looking back at it, I imagine we all looked a little gay in our summer uniforms - shorts with knee-highs held up by tasseled garters - as we walked the streets of NYC. If only I could have been a Girl Scout and have been able to wear a skirt with those knee-highs!"

Could have been a kilt!!! Even in 1964 that had to have been one hell of a long train ride with a bunch of "tweener" boys!

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