It was a typical classroom that seated about 40 college students. The students’ desks were arranged in rows that faced a large chalkboard that hung unbalanced on the wall. The room was drab, painted a dull, off-shade color of white with bare walls. A plain, wooden teacher’s desk sat in one corner, collecting dust from disuse. A short, skinny sociology professor—a PHD—stood behind a lecture stand making the final remarks in a lecture entitled “The Characteristics of Primitive Man.” I was seated near the middle of that room surrounded by a group of strangers that otherwise were called students. With one semester already under my belt, I was bored and was considering dropping out.
All of a sudden, an emotion, driven by an inquiring mind, forced my hand into the air. The professor looked up, pushed the reading glasses up on his nose, raised his eyebrows in a gesture of surprise, looked back down and continued the lecture. I could not remember any time in my college experience that a student had actually asked a question. So I waved my hand in a show of determination.
Once again the professor looked up, removed his glasses, rested his elbows on the lecture stand, and spoke in a disgustingly monotone voice.
“Yes, young man? Do you have something you want to say?”
“Yes, sir. I want to know if there were any homosexuals in primitive societies.”
A moment of silence occurred as a confused professor took a step backwards, cleared his throat, turned and started to write something on the board. Then he suddenly turned again, faced the class, and pointed with his glasses.
“I don’t know, but I WILL find out.”
Again he turned and wrote the word anthropology on the board. He faced the students in an attempt to continue the lecture, but was saved by the bell. The students quickly gathered their possessions, and keeping a safe distance from me, hurried off to their next class.
It was Sociology 101 and the class would meet again on Friday. The Friday 10:00 o’clock hour came much too quick and the students were neatly arranged in their seats with pencils and paper in hand. The tardy bell rang, but the professor did not show. The students were waiting patiently when all of a sudden the little man bounced through the door carrying an arm load of books. He pranced across the room and piled the books on the desk in the corner. He carefully selected a folder and briskly walked to the lecture stand. He leaned forward, pulled the reading glasses under his eyes, and stared directly at the students. In a voice that had not been heard before, he spoke firmly, “Yes sir, there were homosexuals in primitive societies. In fact, my research revealed that there have been homosexuals in almost all societies.”
With those words he ran across the room and jumped upon the teacher’s desk. He whirled around and pointed with his glasses. “Have you ever heard of Margaret Mead?” he asked. “She was one of the most renowned of all anthropologists. She wrote, and I quote, ‘in my studies of the primitive tribes of South Africa, I found many effeminate males assigned specific duties in tribal societies.’”
He jumped from the desk and ran to the back of the room. The students were shocked and sat motionless, being afraid to even turn and face the lecturer.
“And above all that,” he continued, “in some primitive societies, effeminate males were held in high esteem.”
“Wow!” was one response.
“Oh, no!” murmured the sounds of another.
“Yes, it is believed that some homosexuals had mystical powers, the ability to look into two separate realms of the spirit world.”
“What?” Louder voices reverberated from across the room.
“Have you ever heard of the city of Babylon, the city of Athens or Rome – even Cairo, Egypt? I have it all right here in black and white.” He pointed to the books. “In all those places homosexuality was once a popular lifestyle.”
“Oh, no,” was heard again.
“Not really?” Another spoke.
“What did you say, man?”
“I said homosexuality was a popular lifestyle until King James came along. It was after that when religious leaders started that distasteful approach to the gay lifestyle.”
Pencils were dropped to the floor, but otherwise silence dominated.
I, the guy who started it all, suffered from the emotion of guilt. I had asked this little, old man one question, and apparently it had driven him crazy. With the remarks he had made, I was sure there would be an all-out student rebellion. Parents would withdraw their children from college, students would get up and march out of the classrooms, and this man would lose his job. What – had – I - done? I hung my head in shame, afraid to face the students. But finally curiosity set in, and I had to raise my eyes. The professor was back at the lecture stand continuing a fireball lecture. It was a spiritual uplifting much like going to church on Sunday. The scene had changed and a feeling of success pounded at me. I raised my head high and puffed my chest. A miracle had occurred. The classroom had been turned into an exciting place for learning. Suddenly, students were jumping up from all over the room and asking questions.
“Sir, are you talking about the King James version?”
“Sir, what ever happened to Margaret Mead?”
“I don’t know.”
“But, sir, what about the red-letter edition?”
“I’m not sure.”
It was at that moment that I made an important decision, one of the best in my lifetime. I would remain a student at the university.