|The View From Pacific Heights|
One of my very best friends is Tim Ihle, who was a law student in 1976 when I joined the Ohio State law faculty in January of that year as a Visiting Professor for the winter and spring quarters. Things had become heated at Indiana University Indianapolis Law School, which was my permanent home, where the previous December I'd made a motion to censure the Dean for outrageous conduct and then led the faculty, more or less en masse, into his office the next day to tell him he must resign. He declined. When I left the next month to be a visitor at Ohio State until the summer, I was certainly hoping they would make me a permanent offer. I was also, as explained in previous posts, exploring being a gay man for the first time. At the Columbus gay bars I, of course, encountered the OSU gay law students, and they were very helpful in teaching me the ways of the homosexual world as it existed in 1976. Tim was among this crowd, and we became fast friends for a number of reasons, especially including the fact that he was one of the creators of my record album "Strange Songs," where he kept stealing the limelight with numbers such as "The Specialty of the House."
|[Click To Enlarge]|
I was told by the OSU law faculty, unanimously, that there was no way I would be offered a permanent position—in the changing legal education world of that day most law schools, OSU included, were simply not hiring white males. [One of the most liberal members of the faculty told me years later that had he known I was gay, he'd have voted for me!] I was saved, and did receive and accept the permanent offer, because the graduating class of 1976 (blessings upon them) voted me the Outstanding Professor of the Year (which annoyed some other faculty members since I was both a visitor and had been only there for five months).
Subsequently Tim graduated from law school in 1979 and went to work for one of the most prestigious firms in Columbus. One Monday morning in 1982 he came into work and the secretaries informed him he was about to be fired because the partners had discovered he was gay! This turned out to be an accurate prediction—they told him to clean out his desk by Friday. This same firm had had an embezzler who they gave six months to find a new job, but a gay associate was too much for them in those homophobic days. Tim was devastated. The Steven Sondheim song in which one of the lyrics is that "bricks can fall out of clear blue skies," was written for moments like this.
About the same time I'd accepted an offer from the University of California Hastings Law School (a free-standing law school in downtown San Francisco) to be a Visiting Professor for the 1982-83 school year. What gay man (then single) could resist and offer like that? Tim approached me and asked if he could share expenses with me for that year, with the two of us being roommates while he took the California bar and found himself a new job. Delighted, I said yes, and the adventure began for us both. Understand that we were not a romantic couple, but just good friends embarking on a new experience together.
|Our Apartment Building|
|Lafayette Park (see our apartment at top right)|
|Beach Blanket Babylon|
|[L to R] Tim and I with Two Neighbors|
It was fun being in a neighborhood with fancy residences, many of them with gay populations. We quickly learned the local establishments that were best for food, sundries, liquor, books, etc. One nearby doughnut shop proved to be our undoing. On a weekend morning the thought of those hot and delicious doughnuts would often pull me from my bed. By the time I returned, Tim would have made coffee, and our weekend would get off to a great start. As I put on some pounds, I joined a local gay gym, which proved to be . . . interesting. During that year there were sexual adventures too, of course, but I'm not going to report on that here other than to say that I had a very good time. AIDS was just beginning to make its appearance in the early 1980s, and many people were rightly scared—no one knew what it was or how to deal with it. When I spent a week in San Francisco ten years later I went back to one of my favorite bars and found it almost empty at a time when it used to be packed. When I asked a bartender "Where is everyone?" he replied in all seriousness, "They all died." That was a sobering moment.
Things went well at the University of California Hastings Law School, and I still have friends I met there (as well as former students I sometimes hear from). Tim passed the California Bar Exam and went back to doing legal work. He bought a home north of the city, where he still lives, and I see him when he occasionally returns to Columbus (as he will next month, and on my birthday we'll have a playreading at my condo starring him). I drove back across the country in May of 1983, very pleased by the whole experience. Whenever someone asks me if I've ever been to SF, I smile and my eyes mist up with fond memories of that wonderful year with Tim when we both were young, gay, and living in San Francisco.
"The Aging Gay Rights Activist," March 24, 2010
"Elena Kagan and Me," May 23, 2010 (about playreadings)
"Strange Songs, Inc.," September 29, 2010
“A Guide to the Best of My Blog,” April 29, 2013