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October 13, 2004



You know, I've known a number of male professors who seemed like they could be gay, but turned out to be straight. Something about the teaching personality, maybe.

Odd letter, though.


Ok. I'm not sure what to say about this, does your fiancee know that you are batting for the other team? ;-)


Actually, John, I am happy to say that my days of swinging a bat in the gender game are at an end. I am happily engaged, and blissful in the dugout.


Being also one of your former students, I never thought once that you were gay. Though I am somewhat embarrassed to say that my wife asked if you were gay when she saw the pink sidebars.


Hello, joe! How does she like the lavender?


You mean the (cricket) pavilion, right? I have no idea what a dugout is, except as a military hiding place.


And "batting for the other team" is an Anglo-Australasian euphemism for homosexuality. Not a PC one, but the PC team is one for whom I never bat. ;-)


What a strange, strange letter. I never got the slightest impression of gayness through 2+ semesters. Even if a professor is gay, this would be of incredible importance because...? They're (hopefully) only hired based on their competence. These students need to spend their time and thought on more useful things.


Our euphemism is the same, John -- just for baseball. The dugout is where one waits when one's team is batting but one is not actually at bat or on deck waiting to bat...


Mrs. joe: "Oh, he changed to lavender."

I don't think her comment had any sexual orientation implied. you're safe now :)

As for me, I'd like to see you step the whole design up a notch-- you spend frequent amounts of time doing this. Look (i love your use of look), I think I have been frank with you in the past and I am not going to let up now. Your blog is plain, and not meant as a euphemism (because around here it's becoming one) or to be name calling (for the sensitive ones)--it's conservative. you know i mean in appearence.

Ralph Luker

Get over it. You _know_ Hugo is not gay because his taste in color schemes is so bad.


Virtually any instructor I've had who brings a "personal touch" to their lectures attracts endless gossip amongst their students: personal life, political beliefs, secret offensive/illegal behavior ("duuuude, do you think Hugo gets high?"). However, this example is especially bewildering considering (as a former Hugo student -- in two consecutive timeslots, no less!), all talk seemed to come from besotted young women who debated how much of a ladies' man you MUST be -- citing the very same characteristics (tattoos, slim/athletic appearance) as signs that you must "really clean up with the girls!" Oh, but give it fifteen years and to most, you'll be yet another old guy that gets called "Professor" exclusively because nobody can be bothered with your actual name... ah, kids.


Ralph, I'm crushed. I was going for a mix of East Coast preppy with queer radicalism, really -- the forest green and the warm lavender. Sigh.

I know I ought to upgrade the site soon.

La Lubu

The letter cracked me up! Folks with too much time on their hands....

Kinda reminded me of an episode on the Drew Carey show....someone made reference to Drew's possibly being gay (short hair, gainfully employed, unmarried), and he said, "Gay? Are you kidding me? I'm not in that kind of shape!" poking fun at another stereotype....

When I had my hair short, some folks assumed I "had" to be gay, too, because of my job. Now that I have a child and longer hair, I don't get that assumption any more.

Aren't people funny?


Yes, they are.

I know! I'll gain weight, and then folks won't think I'm gay!


Former student wrote "gay" 15 times in that one paragraph. Someone needs a thesaurus! I think the thought you might be same sex oriented crossed my mind on the first day of class with you(because you were so well dressed, cliche, I know). Then I went on to think that you were definately not gay and promptly begin to worry about that. Teaching a women studies class to a bunch of rapt attention giving/seeking teenage and 20 something girls is kind of a precarious place to put yourself if you are a young, male, straight professor. (I wasn't going to pander to your ego by adding "attractive", but there you have it :P)

Lawrence Krubner

My experience with political activisim is that the more invested people are with a movement the harder a time other people have understanding what their starting point of reference is. You, Hugo, apparently committed to feminism a long time ago. That means there are many layers of assumption about communication that you no longer think about that must seem wholly new and quite strange to your students. There are ways of talking that only work at week long retreats where people are isolated from the normal forces of cultural normalization and open to learning a new mutual language. Also, intellectuals often have a frame of reference that is too many assumptions removed from the norm to be easily transparent to those just being exposed to the ideas. I think one reason why my friends have an easier time getting their feminism from Ani Difranco instead of Betty Frieden is that artists, by definition, are more about communication with others than intellectuals necesserily are.

Lastly, the ultimate committment to a movement is to try to live the ideals of the movement in your daily life. Anyone who reaches that level of committement is going to seem utterly alien to people who've made no committment to any political movment. It doesn't matter if you're Christian, Socialist, Anarchist, Fascist, Green, Black Nationalist, Feminist, or anything else, you will not be understood by those of lesser committment.

It's as simple as that.


Kelly, I'm aware that it is easier to be thought a gay man than a potential predator. I'd certainly rather be judged as the former!

Lawrence, you're right. I've spent enough time around gay folks that I have "picked up" mannerisms and speech patterns that are often associated, rightly or wrongly, with gay men. I also am committed to gender justice, which is seen as "unmasculine" by some...

Lawrence Krubner

When I was in my 20s I sometimes deliberately adopted mannerisms that people stereotypically associate with gays. I liked to treat my life as a bit of theater, and the roles that our society expected people to play struck me as starting points from which we should improvisationally riff. Those roles that seemed to me too claustrophobic struck me as being ripe for inversion, as when directors cast a black man to play Guildenstern in Hamlet, or asking a woman to play Puck in A Midsummer Nights Dream. Some roles we get so used to that we stop seeing them till somone finds a fresh way of playing them.

Since I've turned 30 I've found it harder to riff freely off of society's expectations or to strike against outworn ideas of automatically expected obligation. I'm not sure why things have changed. Maybe because I'm more serious about making money now.

Jonathan Dresner

I ran into the "if he's not a predator, he must be gay" thing myself until I started having long-term intimate heterosexual relationships. Actually, even that didn't entirely make it go away (long story). I like the fact that I'm not percieved as threatening; I don't really care what other conclusions people reach after that.

I've run into "if he's a decent human being he must be Christian" thing, too; again, it's a fallacy, and for some reason it bothers me more than the other one.


These are college students, right? Of course they're always thinking about sex, who's having it, who's not, whether people are or aren't sexually available to them, etc. etc. They'll hopefully grow out of it.

Lawrence Krubner

Sometimes the people who behave best are accussed of the worst things. You, Hugo, once linked to a history of the Anabaptists. I was struck by the case in the late 1500s when the authorities were forced to investigate a man because he never swore, never drank, never beat his wife and always went to church. Because of his excellent behavior many began to suspect he might be an Anabaptist, for which he'd get the death penalty. I had the impression from the story that in the end it turned out he was only a decent human being. The story noted the irony of the situation.

In a less serious way, the whole decent-must-be-gay thing reflects the same mindset.


I don't think it's a matter of college students "always thinking about sex." As a college student I can tell you I don't. Our society is heavily gendered from birth. Those who don't fit into gender roles are usually labeled and punished in some way. If a male doesn't act "manly" (heaven forbid a "real man" teach women's studies), he's gay. If a female isn't "feminine" enough, she's gay. Wouldn't it be great if we could live in a society where such things weren't important? Ah, if we could all just be fabulous children like Lois Gould's X...


Oh, I don't think it's limited to college students, but there's a definite age range where thinking about it is pretty much a full-time occupation.


Now, Lawrence, that implies that being gay is a "worst thing". To me it just seems that the stereotype working here is that straight men are born assholes, a stereotype that wrecks all sorts of harm on relationships between men and women as men try to live up to it for fear of seeming gay or less than manly or whatever.

This isn't the fault of feminists, by the way. The stereotype of straight men as natural assholes exists to benefit straight men, to keep them from being held accountable for asshole behavior. If being an asshole is just part of manhood, the logic goes, women have to tolerate it, don't they?

That's why I find that women who buy into these gendered stereotypes are more likely to hate men than feminists who know damn well that straight men aren't born assholes.

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