Skip To Content
No Mercy No Malice

A Tsunami Brewing

August 26, 2022

I’m a little fucked up (i.e., drunk). And drunk, I’m a better version of myself: more in touch with my emotions and unafraid to register those emotions. Forty years ago this week, at 17, I joined a fraternity at UCLA. Pledging ZBT was one of the best decisions I ever made. I grew up with no siblings and an absent dad, so I had few male role models. Without the socialization, scrutiny, and camaraderie of my “brothers,” it’s unlikely I would have graduated from college. 

One friend from that time is more present in my memory tonight. Ron Baham was smart, handsome, and talented. After college, he went to work in entertainment, and by 30, he was director of programming for Disney television. Three years after, ill from AIDS, he called several people to make amends before ingesting several dozen valium mixed into a large glass of vodka.

In the late nineties, America’s view of AIDS deaths among gay men was roughly “that’s a tragedy, but you kind of had it coming.” Only people who contracted the virus from a blood transfusion or heterosexual sex were the legitimate “victims.”

Before the Tsunami

There is an interesting discourse in social media re the importance of addressing issues early, before they can become a real shitstorm. We Democrats ignored the chipping away of women’s rights over the past 20 years only to have the unthinkable happen. It’s likely going to take years, decades even, to get the moral compass of the U.S. back on its axis. The steady erosion of gay rights is accelerating into a second tsunami.

One GOP principle that’s always resonated for me (though it’s barely visible in today’s GOP) is personal liberty. Opting for the individual, making your own decisions about how you want to live your life. Paramount: the right to pursue life. Next: liberty. It’s unfathomable to imagine, in my view, a society dictating whom we can love and who can love us back. New laws in states all over the union, couched in false flag concerns about school curricula or swim meets, amount to nothing but a gross assault on what it means to be American and a violation of our sacred right to liberty.

If advocating for fraternites and gay rights in subsequent paragraphs sounds inconsistent, you can take comfort in knowing that the world is not cable-TV news. Society, people, and life are more nuanced and complex.

Anyway, I wrote this in 2017, which means 97% of you have not seen it.


[The following was originally published October 6, 2017.]

Tom Petty and Bad Timing

Tom Petty’s passing hit me as much as any death of a celebrity since Robin Williams. While we don’t know celebrities, they can transport us back to a time in our life we usually feel good about. Death is not airbrushed or shot in a soft light, so we see them as more human, empathize, and register our own mortality.

Tom Petty takes me back to freshman year at UCLA. As a fraternity pledge, I was thrust into a four-man, 300-square-foot room in the fraternity with my “brothers” (total strangers):

  • Gary was a big kid from Seattle who rowed in high school and wore expensive polo shirts. He drove a new Accord and was more ambitious than us, at an earlier age. Senior year, he essentially stopped going to class so he could work full time at a real estate firm. He traded smoking a shit-ton of pot and watching Planet of the Apes with friends during the day for the chance to get a nine-month professional jump on us. The rest of us opted to spend 60, vs. 61, years working and experience a year with Charlton Heston, cannabis, and each other. So. Worth. It.
  • Pat was from a farm in Visalia. He was also the most creative and likable person any of us had ever met. He was hilarious and outrageous, writing songs and scripts and then having us sing and read them, usually very high. Pat and I bonded, as, unlike most of our brothers, our families were not affluent. We were always broke … always.
  • Craig was from the Valley and had a nice innocence about him. He was artistic and constantly doodling, and soon he was designing all the shirts and swag for social events. Claiming it was his psych homework, Pat would put on the theme from Jaws, pin Craig to the ground, and tickle him until he passed out from oxygen deprivation. Then, in the middle of the night, he’d put on the theme from Jaws so we could watch Craig wake to the music and reflexively scream “NO!” This still stands as the hardest I’ve ever laughed.
  • Ron was a handsome Black guy with a movie star voice. He dressed as if he’d walked out of The Preppy Handbook. He ended up at a Jewish fraternity when he was unable to secure a bid from the Lambda Chi fraternity next door. Ron seemed older than his years and was universally loved. Today, there’s an endowed scholarship in his memory at UCLA.

Damn the Torpedoes 

The soundtrack to all of this in 1983 was Tom Petty’s Damn the Torpedoes and Bruce Springsteen’s Born in the USA albums, which we literally wore out. Hearing of Tom Petty’s death took me back to freshman year, and a bunch of us started a group text around the shock of his passing. I was reminded of Ron’s deaths by his absence.

The last time I saw Ron was at a friend’s wedding. Severely ill and wasting away, he seemed embarrassed to speak to me. I tried to be as nonchalant as possible, acting as if nothing was wrong, talking about anything else. A man was dying, and another (a friend) was too immature to find the behaviors or words to bring some grace to the situation.

By that time, the early nineties, American society was slowly becoming more accepting of gay people. But at UCLA in the eighties, there was no acceptance whatsoever of gay people or their lifestyle. I couldn’t have named a single gay person at UCLA, though several of my good friends, unbeknownst to me, were gay. My closest friend, the godfather to my youngest son, and the CEO of my first firm — all of them friends from college and grad school. All gay.

So much about who we are and the lives we get to live is a function of where and when we are born — out of our control. I have no choice over my sexuality. Being born a straight man in California in the sixties was the luckiest thing that could have happened to me. Being born a gay man in the sixties proved fatal for Ron.

Born 20 years earlier, he could have had a full adult life. Born 10 years later, science would have caught up and made living with HIV manageable.

Most of us have had the chance to do the things we dreamt of in college. Many of those things (achieving material items, having exotic experiences, finding relevance) have been meaningful. But as you get older, the relationships you have with people you love and who love you overwhelm everything else in your life. It’s not something easily explained to a young person. And, unlike most things, we get better at love as we get older. At a minimum, we appreciate it more. Ron was more talented and likable than any of us, but he was robbed of the time to achieve much more.

I heard about Tom Petty and was sad and nostalgic. I remember Ron and I’m just sad. Very sad.

Life is so rich,

78 comments

  1. Dawn says:

    Thank you for sharing your story of Pat and Ron and Tom. May their memories be blessings to you.

  2. Jeff Rathgeber says:

    Finally got around to reading this post, and I’m glad I didn’t let it get stale in the Get Around To Reading pile of which 80% gets flushed due to backup. It’s amazing to see someone else fearlessly get in touch with old feelings and old realities, and to “let us in”. I feel like I know these ZBT guys, and we all have our own lost friends that followed this same script so this post brings us ALL back. Gosh i hope American society can learn from the past and not repeat these same sins of forced omission. Thank you Scott.

  3. Nina says:

    My best friend, fellow nerd in HS……. oh wait, you want a credential? We did the cooking oil and food coloring light show for the prom on an overhead projector-late 60s. (Think “Cream”) Ok, moving on. Our friendship was a constant into adulthood. He became a very prominent lawyer, I went chasing dreams in NYC. He was transferred there, and we never missed a beat in our typical socializing despite our widening circles of acquaintance. I was living in the West Village top floor of a walkup and one late evening at home, I heard the intercom, and my friend, drunk as a skunk, asking to come up. But of course! After some giggles, he broke down crying, confessing that he was gay. Everyone had known this viscerally, if not actually, since the dawn of high school time. But then, he added, “If I weren’t gay, I’d marry you”! Typical male assumptions about who makes the decisions….and my immediate response was, “You’d ask first, right?” Then, because I was in a bathrobe, scuffies, and hair curlers, I was pissed that what might be my one and only proposal was sullied in this way. I was a little annoyed at the presumption, but told him to buck up, not worry, I’d find somebody else. Fast forward to 1987. AIDS took him after a two year struggle. Another friend and I were his caregivers on the occasions where opportunistic diseases would cause revolving door hospital admissions, stabliization, and abrupt discharging. We bathed him, shopped and cooked for him. For our own protection, we wore rubber gloves and masks. No one knew how it was transmitted at first. He was still afraid of having this known in his workplace, where he was chief counsel. The worst thing I encountered was finding his lunch tray on the floor outside his hospital room, two days in a row with nothing touched. He told me he was hungry, and the light bulb went on. No one would go in his room. The nurses’ station was told that I expected them to do what they get paid for, through every nasty disease which comes along, including this one. And they could start right now while I was watching. This sort of thing never nets new friends, but, what are you going to do?
    As sad as it is, for me, this story never gets old. It has so many angles and lessons to be learned. Don’t fear death. It’s coming one way or the other. Do what’s right in the meantime. Take down the pharisees when they’re asking for it. And “every pot has a lid”. I did find a very nice husband with the same ethical take on this life. Thanks for reading this. I’m an only child with no extended family, and that man was my brother, truly.

  4. Eric says:

    As a long-time reader and a gay man, I truly appreciate this post.

    In the face of an increasingly dangerous political situation in our country, your writing and commentary is becoming braver. It suits you.

  5. Scott says:

    Now nature is giving us Rainbowpox

  6. Sukhdeep Singh says:

    Always great reading your posts and was stuck by the nostalgia and sense of loss at remembering some of my friends (most of whom died in combat or combat/stress generated by combat related issues), And then reached the end where two feelings intermingled in a probably inadvertent connection “am just sad. Very sad. — Life is so rich” and had a great moment of clarity, an epiphany of sorts, that sadness also makes our life rich. Color Black also is a ‘color’ and ‘Black and White’ is also ‘colored’ as in color palette as well as racism (although I’m yet to see someone black in color, mostly dark brownish reddish tinges including my own skin). Also got reminded of the occasions where not only the date of birth but also geographical location by and inch or two would’ve meant life for many people I know and possibly death for me. Thanks for the post. Always enjoy reading them. Stay safe, stay happy. Cheers to life………… and the ultimate reality ………. the death!

  7. Steve says:

    Great post Scott and so relevant. Having also grown up in California during the 60s and college in the 70s, I could tell many tales of friends that were ‘different’, but no one cared. The timing example is also so relevant as I have lost dear friends to diseases that now seem routine. Hang in there and know that there are a lot of us nuanced and complex people out here who vote.

  8. Benji says:

    Beautifully written. Emotions have a big part in our success (though we’re always taught to put them off). No wonder EQ is considered a very high trait by organizations looking to fill in a management position. In Israel, there’s a song called The Children of the Moon (Yaldey HaYareakh). It is like the writers could read your mind. But then again, whoever has been there knowing exactly what you’re talking about.

  9. Ngaire Hartnett says:

    Beautiful post. Indeed…. Life is so rich.

  10. Eric Hall says:

    A touching and heartfelt commentary. Thanks for sharing!

  11. Geoff says:

    Beautifully written, Scott with so much humanity and insight! I look forward to your weekly musings and as a 77 year old gay man, living in Germany, who has led a happy and fulfilling life being lucky enough to navigate the AIDS crisis, I have taken your signature sign-off “Life is so Rich!” to heart. Everyday I start my day full of gratitude with these words on my lips!

  12. robert says:

    Great post. So familiar, like the stories of friends from my time at Cornell in the 60’s, and other stories later, when I moved to the Village in the 80’s. The loss of liberty will be missed, but as you say, we let it happen. It’s a win/lose game today.The gay pride parade went down our block recently and the young women joined them over their own recent loss, and I thought, “We’re starting over.” My daughter, 12, joined them. Yes, it will take decades to regain the freedoms lost or disappearing. Or worse, without fighting back, we will become more like Russia, and our years will seem like Camelot.

  13. Thom says:

    This is the best post you’ve written.

  14. Geoff says:

    I followed your blog for a while now. So I trained in HIV in NY and Queens. Thank you for humanising this experience and counting the human cost. Even now we all need to remember the human suffering caused by disease. It’s not about sexuality or choice, it’s about humanity.

  15. Joanne says:

    I was watching an Oprah rerun tonight and a couple had premature twin boys and one only lived a few days. The parents were trying to figure out how to live without this little guy. Gary Zukav was the guest. He said they needed to look at him as a soul that decided to come into their life only for a few days and the soul decided to leave this earth on its own terms. Something he thought might bring the parents mire peace and understanding. Maybe if Scott looks at it that way he can accept the loss of his school mates better.

  16. Stephen Ruben says:

    The first time I heard Scott was when my wife introduced me to Pivot. He was a lot like me…irreverent funny humble and smart, but smarter than me…a lot smarter. He has the ability to process material and deliver it In a thoughtful, even academic but always human way. His flaws are in view for all to see. He hides not from himself or his feelings. This reminiscence of his gay friends and colleagues was poignant and special. He was lucky to have them. They were lucky to have had Scott

  17. J.P. Newman says:

    Scott.. It’s been a long time since our UCLA Zbt days. Great Article and thought provoking. Thank you Scott. Paul J Newman

  18. Jan Averill says:

    Writing from the heart. Thanks. I hope we are not going backwards. I like seeing people for who they are.

  19. Sheila S. Cameron says:

    Thank you, Scott. For sharing the sadness, and the joy! People do matter and love matters most of all.

  20. laura says:

    I lost so many friends to AIDS. Thank you for this post. I remember it seemed like I was attending a funeral or service every month. The disease devastated the Castro in SF. And sadly the arts. Your post was lovely and heartfelt. Thank you again

    • Steve Troyer says:

      You were always a good friend in grad school Scott. But experience, mostly sadly, has taught us so much wisdom. Keep sharing… st

      • Scott says:

        Steve, so nice to hear from you. Thanks for kind words. Best to you, and yours. S

  21. Con says:

    Very touching, Scott. Thank you for sharing. Your insight in relationships is a kind reminder about what it truly means to be human.

  22. dallasboiler says:

    I appreciate this story, but I’m more optimistic about where we are and where we are headed on this front.

    We’ve come such a long way on acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community. I’m not trying to say that we’re there or that where we are is perfect, but things have changed so much for the better for people who don’t identify as hetero than they were even 10 years ago. Progress is never a straight line (no pun intended). Probably the most vexing now are transgender issues, which drives so much for society to process & digest such as:

    What is the right age for a person to make a decision to irreversibly change their gender? In a world where sports are segregated by gender due to inherent physical differences, how do we deal with somebody a transgender athlete competing amongst those who have a distinct biochemical or physiological disadvantage?

    We’ll figure these things out as a society and will get to a better place. Just look how positively things have changed for others. However, the process will likely be messy and will bring out the worst in some along the journey. I know that may be easy for me to say as a white hetero male, but just knowing how far I’ve come personally on the subject in my lifetime gives me a lot of hope for others.

  23. Kenneth Goldman says:

    Sobering. Much older and from Cornell and SAMMY fraternity as wasn’t good enough for ZBT. But I have done ok. Look me up. Atherton Ca. Formerly Yahoo CFO

  24. Ben says:

    Beautiful story of struggle of people who are not accepted in the society for one or other. I hear you loud and clear Bro

  25. David says:

    OScott:

    Beautiful and touching. The importance of friends of ALL kinds becomes more important as I have gotten older. In two weeks, I will be joining 50+ former college colleagues in a 55th reunion type of event. Some—both straight and gay—have passed on, while others are still with us. But as the years have passed, I am more and more appreciative of those friendship, which I will cherish and hold onto for as long as I can.

    Thanks for your column and all its honesty…

  26. Max says:

    Scoot, you‘re not fucked up when you‘re drunk. This evening, I had a gin & tonic, Greco di tufo, moscadello and finally some grappa. So I‘ m drunk, too, from great Italian drinks, but I’m not fucked up.
    Fucked up is the US society. And this is highly concerning – for me, and it probably should be for all of us. I love this country, studied in Syracuse in the early 80s. But I don‘t want to return any more. If this goes on, this country is doomed.
    Individual fates are horrible. But more so are the Situation and prospects of the Ukrainian people. And probably also everybody’s fate, because climate change might kill us all.
    What can we do? Fight, think positive and support people in need around us. It‘s so easy – and so hard.
    Thanks for your sincere thoughts.
    P.S.: Kara is makin fun of you. Can‘t believe it.

  27. Ellen Jones says:

    I will add Mark Locher to your list of losses. I still keep postcards from him in random places so that I can look at them and look at him. A great friend. Funnier and smarter than anyone. Ended his days as an executive at Screen Actors Guild and was able to realize his goal of owning a home.
    I miss him all the time. Thank you for inspiring me to write this.
    We must love one another.

  28. Eric Hammond says:

    I too am a heterosexual, older man with gay friends. They are some of the kindest and most nonjudgemental people I have had the good fortune to meet.

  29. Johanna Schor says:

    While you’ve been polishing off Vodka and bonding more with your sons, I’ve missed your voice. Your piece about ZBT and the loss of your brothers touched me. I’m a bit older, straight and a woman, but my sexual behavior in my teens and twenties was a lot like the sexually active gay men in the 90s. It was luck that I was born when I was and had a monogamous stable dysfunctional relationship in the 80s and another in the 90s. When I spent most of the height of the AIDS crisis holding the hands of my dying friends and patients I knew how lucky I was. I know you focus on helping young men find a better way, but they are words as a loving society we all need to hear.

    A friend, Kenneth Robbins, from that time has just released a documentary, REimagined. What if a 29 year old man in 1993 had not died of AIDS, what would his life have been; reflecting on all the creative, smart loving young men who died during that dark plague.

    We always must remember. I joined an LBGT Synagogue partly to grieve in a space that shared those losses, and partly because at other Temples, no one talked much to single Jewish women.
    Looking forward to your return, and best wishes.

  30. Lydia Sugarman says:

    I remember Edward, Ralph, Hamlet, and so many other friends and am still always just so sad.

  31. Dave says:

    I find your intelligence, logic and storytelling to be an incredible gift. As a person who most often has a different perspective, it helps me to see a broader world of possibilities and “truths”. Thanks for the gift that you are to the world….

  32. Frances says:

    One of the most significant people in my life was my gay brother. He couldn’t even directly tell me, his youngest sister, he was gay. He didn’t have to, as the conversation was insignificant in how I saw him. He was the most generous and intelligent one in the family. Well read, well travelled and well educated. He was my sounding board for years. He past away 5 years ago and when I think of him, I’m full of gratitude that he was in my life. I learned a lot about the struggles of being born homosexual through him without him having to say a word. I miss him 🌹❤️

  33. Ken Rostron says:

    Don’t want or need an avalanche of hate but I find it fascinating that the killing and termination of Human life is considered “moral” high ground. . Its a really interesting self delusion.

  34. Jonathan Peterson says:

    I’m straight, so this hit hard. I never knew anyone who was out until I was out of college (Mississippi, the closeted gay artist state). Had a roommate in Atlanta from LA who had tons of gay friends growing up, was instantly a weekend only club kid. So many of those lovely people didn’t make it to the other side of the anti-viral chasm. My wife and I are active in some LGBTQ orgs and it’s a weird mix of the survivors our age and 20 nsomethibgs.

  35. Martin says:

    <3

  36. Shannon says:

    Beautifully written and such a sad story. Thank you for sharing.

  37. Kristin says:

    Beautiful and so sad. Thank you for sharing.

  38. Joel says:

    We’re the same age. But I went to Kent State. From what you described of UCLA, KSU was way more liberal on the eastern front of the midwest than UCLA on the west coast. I was on RA in a coed dorm. The young men were a bunch of meatheads and I got along very well with them. But I got along with anybody back then. And gayness was mostly open there, but not all the way. Student housing called me to the administration office and warned me that two new guys were going to be moving onto my floor. Two gay guys. I never met them before they moved in. But I had a floor meeting with the guys. I was straight forward with them. One guy said out loud ‘let’s kick their asses!” I let that hang in the air. I didn’t react on purpose…I wanted the guys to know I didn’t approve. I calmly said “we’re not going to kick anybody’s ass. All these guys want is a place to study and finish out the year in peace. They aren’t here to hit on you or even be your friends. They want to be left alone. We can do that, right?” I was already going through a little bit of my own cultural pressure because I was involved with a black female student so I sort of got what these guys were going to go through. My message was “The year’s almost over, just stay cool.” They were, like, the smallest, gayest guys you’d met. And they were getting their asses kicked all the time…IN COLLEGE. I have to give my guys and those gay guys credit. They didn’t have one incident on my floor and they got around to hanging out with some of the other guys and sharing some laughs. Everybody benefitted. When the year was over, as they were moving out they came into my room and stuck out their hands to shake mine. “Thanks for all you’ve done . It was the only time we had peace since we stepped on campus.” I felt really proud of that. Two years later my older brother came out, then a few more years later my younger sister. Then I had to hear it from meathead relatives about them. I told them all they’d change. They all did. And so did the worldpretty much. Now we’re backsliding and I’m saddened, but also energized, by it. You have to dig in because this is going to be a slog. But in the end things will be ok and we’ll have peace.

  39. Nick says:

    Beautiful. Love it.

  40. G says:

    When the word life is used, life is not just about money and sex. Maybe yes for some people. It shouldnt be.
    Die to yourself. Delete money and sex from your life and they dont become the center anymore. There is the real freedom.

  41. maureen says:

    beautiful. thank you

  42. Rich Amons says:

    Well said Scott, well said. I was also born straight and white in the 60’s with little awareness of the entitlement bestowed on me by timing and pure happenstance. My “bubble world” originated in Philadelphia and relocated to DC, NYC, and now, Nantucket. Thank you for the sensitivity level check.

  43. Mikey says:

    Thank you Scott. I am sorry your beautiful friends’ lives we’re cut short. I am thankful for your wisdom, passion, and eloquence. Such a beautifully written tribute to your friends while peppered with wisdom and emotion to share with us. Thank you.

  44. Mark W says:

    Agreed re: quality of relationships

  45. Dave says:

    Thought full and true.
    Thankyou

  46. Mike Bills says:

    That was beautiful. Thank You.

  47. Alison says:

    This stuck a nerve with me. I’m over a decade younger than you, but growing-up in rural Georgia, you were not openly gay in my childhood/ early adulthood if you had a healthy sense of self-preservation. One of my closest high school friends was such a talent – perfect SAT scores at 16, a prodigy piano player, etc. He was so talented. We kept in touch after high school (me going to the University of Georgia, him going to Georgia Tech, it wasn’t hard to stay in touch). I watched him start to mentally kind of disintegrate his freshman year of college. I could never really figure out what was going on, because he wouldn’t tell me. He finally just disappeared. Years later, a friend sent me a story from the front page of a newspaper in Florida. He had been arrested after a series of crimes (some major, some minor) and was now serving 10-15 in a Florida prison. The newspaper story was a sad litany of drug-related arrests, petty theft, you name it. The friend who sent me the newspaper story (who was also gay himself) mentioned how tortured he had been during childhood and early adulthood knowing that he was gay, and knowing that he could never come out to his very religious family, or even to his friends. I think the stress of all it just broke him apart eventually. The whole thing is such a waste it makes me angry.

  48. George says:

    Grace is uniquely nebulous thing to both define and achieve, but you know it when you see it. You do the best you can and hope you can achieve some grace and that the arc of the universe bends towards justice, even if that arc is a little bumpy at times.

  49. Cyril says:

    My formative years in Toronto from the mid 70s to mid 90 were spent living downtown and I had a number of gay friends, mostly guys who had hit on me, but once finding out I wasn’t interested, became friends and invited me to join them. A number of them died during that time for the same reason your friends did. I makes me sad to think about them as they were wonderful to be around and helped open my mind to the greater world. RIP to them all.

  50. Joel says:

    Profoundly touching.

  51. Shannnon says:

    Also having been born in the 60’s and going to college in the late 80’s this resonated. I went to college in SF so many of my friends were openly gay and were also openly HIV positive or suffering with full blown AIDS. And although being gay was more accepted in SF having AIDS was not and still suffered a taboo no one discussed. It’s sad how so many suffered alone and sadly we are inflicting this again on women in states where their bodies are no longer their own. Thanks for sharing

  52. Matt says:

    This was very timely for me. I just learned an old friend of 35+ years is dying of cancer and the hospital has indicated there’s nothing more they can do. Another friend sent me a note with details about the hospital they will be in – I’ve been procrastinating because I don’t know what to say or how to act. Then this dropped in my inbox. I’m going tomorrow – it doesn’t matter what I say or how I act. Going is the thing. Perfect timing Scott!

    • Susan Johnston says:

      Both Scott and you made me weep. The human spirit lives.

    • Jeff says:

      Matt, simply tell your friend you love him. That’s all that counts. I lost an old friend a year ago and didn’t have the chance to tell him.

  53. Alejandro Santiago says:

    I’m really glad I read this piece. You capture a very difficult period in many of our lives in a short and deeply emotional (for me as a Long Term Survivor of Aids) and the friendships we build in college. Some we still have and so many are gone, regardless of our sexual orientation. Thank you.

  54. Meri says:

    Thanks for wise, sensitive, truth. ZBT provided shelter as part of a culture of fighting prejudice. Current antisemitism & homophobia demand our reponse.

  55. alohaboy says:

    Thank you for sharing. A tsunami is definitely brewing for a long time now. Unfortunately, the defacto leader is cable tv.

  56. Buge says:

    Very cool post

  57. Chuck says:

    A decade and change earlier then you but no less similar “feelings.” Especially in regards to frat life and Tom Petty. Takes me right back to a time and place seared into my consciousness. Wow.

  58. Chris Conroy says:

    Fraternities at UT in the mid 80’s were intimidating. Pickup trucks with water canons, snatching and shaving heads of younger siblings still in high school… I opted for the commune like 21st Co-op. But Austin, even then was progressive and the gay friends that I made, and those I made in Palo Alto just after school have all survived AIDS. Thank goodness. I have 2 boys at University now and I’ve suggest they join fraternities for the camaraderie and accountability pieces. And because JAWS… I’ll never hear that the same way again. Ha!

  59. Jeff says:

    You have a way with words that strike many chords. Just a beautifully crafted story.

  60. Thornton Wilder says:

    A wonderful post. I may have my high school students read this.

  61. Susan says:

    Thank you for sharing a part of your story. We are all people and all worthy and deserving of love from whomever wants to give it.

  62. Brad Jones says:

    Beautiful post. I was in the army in Australia when homosexuality was made legal. I had four friends come out and I was so appalled and embarrassed that I had not supported them in the way they needed. It was an absolutely turning moment for me and it shouldn’t have been. Your post confirms that.

  63. Kim says:

    I am lucky to love a gay son (at USC – blasphemy, I know) and feel fortunate every day he can live his life authentically. I also recognize it can be taken away in a moment, and the freedom he has in LA would not be the same elsewhere. Sadly, I am not sure his generation sees how fragile this freedom is for them, and are not getting angry enough at what is happening. This may be a torch we have to carry.

  64. Steve says:

    Great piece – always at your best when the hubris comes down and the emotions remain

  65. Aaron Lesher says:

    I love you, Scott

  66. Peter says:

    “I have no control over my sexuality.”

    And therein lies the problem.

    • Raj says:

      Hopefully this will be understood in the spirit in which it is said. We all have choices — to smoke, to drink alcohol, to consume potentially addictive drugs, , — or not to. To say that there are behaviours which are dangerous to our health on which we have no control is to adopt a fatalistic view of life. It is entirely in our power to make better choices and that’s something which is probably not being sufficiently taught in schools and colleges.

      • Raj says:

        But I am in total agreement that the decision on how to live their lives should be left to individual choice. That’s the mark of a civilised society.

      • Tom Toth says:

        And what is the spirit in which it is said? Homophobic?

    • Stuart says:

      Meaning what, Peter?

    • Tracey Riese says:

      Always enjoy your posts. I wonder if it was intentional that the only person whose race you mentioned was Ron. In doing that you made it a meaningful, differentiated feature of the man. That might have made sense to me had Ron’s race been relevant to your story but I couldn’t make the connection. It left me with the impression that the others, whatever their race (I bet I could guess!) were all the same, and represented the presumed “normal,” which therefore required no mention. I doubt this was your intention but it was the effect.

  67. Rich says:

    Very cool post – we are near contemporaries- and I agree with everything you wrote. I was Stanford ‘81, then some hard labor at Salomon Brothers, then MBA…

    Notwithstanding your late stage maturation, the girl in the photo was on to you!

    • Kenneth Goldman says:

      Sobering. I am much older. Went to Cornell and SAMMY. Wasn’t good enough for ZBT. But I have done all right ! Look me up. Atherton Ca