100 year old Red Oak on the ground next door
100 year old Red Oak on the ground next door

In my last post I talked about the first of my two HPER classes at Indiana University. I mentioned that you were required to take two. My first choice was diving and my second was trampoline. Of course you pick things you like and feel you are pretty good at. I’ll have to ask Peggi what her second choice was. I know she took bowling and while in that class she developed a wicked hook and her game fell apart.

By second semester in freshman year my hair was starting to get long. I was headed to Woodstock that year. The teacher was really bothered by my appearance and continually mocked me in front of class. I shrugged it off at first so he continued to escalate his verbal abuse. Instead of just calling me “Pocahontas” he started using all sorts of homophobic slurs. I was as good as anyone in the class so I tried to ride it out but near the end of the course we were doing some really tricky flips and twists and the teacher arranged it so I only had two guys to spot me, two guys who laughed at all the teacher’s jokes and not nearly enough to keep me from cracking my head open if I fell off the trampoline. The guy gave me a ”D minus.” I tried to complain to higher ups but they said there was nothing they could do. Just a tiny taste of what discrimination feels like.

Later that year I was visiting a friend off campus. He wasn’t home so I walked a few blocks and sat on the stone wall that surrounded the IU Law School. A car with someone hanging out the window drove by and he screamed ”faggot.” I flipped him the bird. They came back around the block, the doors swung open and three guys, all wearing blue windbreakers with yellow Greek letters on the front, started swinging at me. I landed a few good punches but quickly got the sense they wanted to kill me. I came to with my face planted in the sidewalk, my glasses smashed, my nose and jaw broken and some ambulance guys standing over me. Another small taste.

1 Comment

One Reply to “Pocahontas”

  1. I am sorry you had to go through that. Bloomington was like that in the late 60s and early 70s. Scary!  I had some close calls but managed to escape any serious damage.  If you were a guy with long hair in those days, you were a target. Like it or not, you had to find some way to deal with the inevitable haranguing. Bruce Anderson had a unique way of dealing with it ( as he did with most things in life!) One time, as we were walking past the Book Nook, towards the main campus entrance,  a group of neanderthals pulled up in a car and paced alongside us. They lit into us with the usual “ hippie, faggot’, “commie, “bastard’ routine, but we kept our cool and ignored them, which only irritated our assailants, whose taunts became increasingly vile. All at once, Bruce blurted out in a stern but controlled voice, “ Eat Foont!” and calmly returned to ignoring them. Abruptly, the taunts stopped. Maybe they were confused by our lack of intimidation in the face of their toxic machismo. Or maybe they were trying to figure out what “foont’ meant. Whatever the case, after a few final half-hearted  “F you’s”,  our tormentors took off with a burst of speed, disappearing around the corner and down Indiana Avenue. 

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