In the year 2008, in a Jesuit and therefore progressive university in San Francisco, why isn’t it time for same-sex attractions and relations to be more visible, and less urinal?
It doesn’t seem like an extraordinary request, and as we exist a city priding itself in freedom of expression on all fronts, as well as an open-mindedness resisting conventions and norms, it seems that we should be seeing more open same-sex relationships on our campus — or at least a little less of it in the bathroom.
Because, as it stands, I’ve seen and heard more of it occurring there than anywhere else on campus!
By the beginning of this semester — within the first week or so — I had already experienced a “cruise and run” scenario in the Gleeson Library men’s bathroom. For those who are not familiar with the lingo, “cruising” has nothing to do with that catchy Smokey Robinson hit, but rather refers to attempting to pick up another individual for sexual activity. It can occur in bathrooms, as it did in my very memorable experience.
I was running to the library before a 10:30 a.m. class to check emails. Another guy ahead of me courteously held the library door open, and swiped his card to enter. I entered after him. Apparently, the courtesy which this young fellow was extending to me did not end at the library gate.
I went to the restroom before checking those emails and after washing my hands, I heard someone barge in rather abruptly.I am not sure if I had this intuition because this has happened to me before, even in the same location, but I sensed from this fellow’s bravado that he intended to “cruise.” And low and behold, as I washed my hands, I saw in the mirror that he was in fact suggestively touching himself at a urinal. If anyone knows of the George Michael incident from the late-90s, we know what this gesture implies.
And this isn’t the first time that I or a friend of mine have experienced this on USF’s campus. In addition to another similar experience I had during my sophomore year, a friend of mine also experienced a “cruising” incident in the men’s bathroom near Crossroads last fall.
His description of the situation was quite identical to my own experience: he was washing his hands when a guy came in and paused at a urinal, and began to touch himself sexually as well. My friend was somewhat taken aback; perhaps he imagined it or misconstrued the situation, but it turned out that this guy remained at the urinal for about ten minutes, perhaps waiting for someone who would respond to his invitation.
Up until last year (when this message was removed) an individual had specified on a bathroom stall the specific time and day when one could receive anonymous oral sex. And if this isn’t enough information to demonstrate that this is occurring on campus, another friend had a “cruising” experience in the Koret showers, in which an individual was suggestively touching his genitalia and eyeing my friend.
Names have been removed to protect those who experienced this, so it is ultimately up to them if they wish to tell their tales personally.
At the same time, I do not want to come off as a voice of judgment for this behavior. I thoroughly recognize and understand the difficulties which our society has with same-sex relations of all forms, even in the 21st century, and even, to a degree in San Francisco. And there is no doubt that I can personally admit to being interested in this quickly accessible, casual sex before in my life.
However, I believe that cruising, as it stands, is ultimately indicative of an individual who chooses to remain “in the closet”; to maintain homosexual exploration within über-private realms in which virtually no individual within one’s life is aware of this part of their life.
Though these incidences might imply that our university is not yet equipped for freedom of sexual exploration, regardless of labels and what they suggest, I am convinced that the more of us who publicly display same-sex relations, the more others will be liberated from a degree of stigmatization towards same-sex attractions, relationships, and all other qualifiers which our society still struggles to accept.
Obviously, I don’t mean to the extent that occurs in the bathrooms, but rather in more healthy modes like getting coffee at Crossroads.
I think that we, as a student body, have the potential to embrace a more progressive view of a campus that includes more open, non-fully-heterosexual folk as a part of the makeup of this university, which therefore will more greatly inform us of the vast diversity existent within sexual identity and therefore within personal experiences.
Tom Defazio is a senior psychology major.