…hat gay boys like me loved literature and theater but that gay boys wore targets on their backs, so if I wished to extinguish the spotlight of sexual suspicion , I’d better like math, science, and all things masculine. I could enjoy high school drama club, but no way could I study anything “soft” in college.
In October, 1957, the Soviets launched Sputnik. That spun the Red Scare to new levels, and there was enormous pressure — on boys — to focus our education on math an science. When people asked us what we planned to do with our future, the only socially acceptable response was to say, “Something in math and science.”
I had the same experience with drama. I felt I could never reveal how much interest I had, but that wasn’t difficult because my high school in Nebraska emphasized sports — but not for girls — and gave only lip service to theater.
I lived in Florida while in the Navy during the late 1960's. I had never heard of the Purple Pamphlet before you essay, but I certainly felt the impact of it during my time there.
My only exposure to anything in the way of a gay life was the Liberace show from 1952–69, and when people watched there were a lot of wink-winks, but no open discussions of homosexuality. It was easy to tell myself, “I’m not like that. I don’t want to be one of ‘those people.’”