Robert Ganshorn

The Campus Crusade of Antichrists

Filed By Robert Ganshorn | June 07, 2008 10:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Fundie Watch, Gay Icons and History
Tags: Campus Crusade for Christ, Gay Liberation, guest post, Purdue University

Editor's Note: Robert Ganshorn Gay_liberation.jpgwas a founding member of the Gay Liberation Front at Purdue University before creating one of the first Public Television documentaries on gay lifestyles broadcast during his graduate studies at Indiana University. Failing to become the Gay Walter Cronkite, he is retired from Ganshorn & Associates in Chicago and now lives in Thailand with his loving partner of 31 years.

The first summer after the GLF (Gay Liberation Front) had been created in 1973, wonderful Purdue University became overrun with- pardon me- hosted "Campus Crusade for Christ."

As the only founding board member of GLF who was summering on the campus, I had arranged for only one event- which was a collection of movies from the archives at Purdue. None of them were specifically Gay themed movies, but all formed the argument for the stupidity of intolerance generally. I entitled the collection: "The Mistakes of Intolerance."

Pamphlets were printed and distributed. I prepared a display window on the main pedestrian walk in the student union to publicize this one and only GLF activity of the summer. The objective was to breathe on the coals to be certain that once we were up to full strength again in the fall we would have something to build upon with the incoming class.

Now, the CCC folks were everywhere on campus. They were testifying to one another, handing out brochures, saving one another, annoying old ladies, performing miracles, dragging people into the streets to save them, not to mention handling snakes, burning witches, books and such. They were very young people, some as young as fifteen. They were running amuck, creating havoc through numbers. They were not only "good" people according to themselves, they were also out to create goodness in others- according to their definitions.

Out of curiosity, I covertly attended a few of their functions that summer. This invariably left me wondering what kind of people could be attracted to this sort of lockstep mentality of conformity- and then I remembered Catholicism, and it all made sense. These were a very boring gathering of kids, testifying publicly to their recently found enlightenment. They had the rock solid certainty and ignorance to even attempt to convert Jews I knew. And they had a pamphlet for everything (including one for Jews)!

The university liked having them there so they could showcase their "God Fearin" campus which could only add luster to their future student recruitment. Further, these children were being housed in residence halls, for a fee to the university, which mean cash flow they would ordinarily have lacked. They left the residence halls they infested in such a mess they required an emergency rebuild prior to the start of regular classes. Their motto was to "go and create disciples" which is just the sort of thing you would expect someone impressionable to eat up. These kids felt empowered by narrow minded righteousness. It would be in character for them to thank God "for people like us" who are worthy.

It never occurred to me that my small film presentation would attract attention of these glory hallelujah folks. They were not a target of mine- just an inconvenience on Purdue's campus.

Well, they targeted me and lost. There was a pamphlet distributed to the CCC groups including our presentation, which encouraged the faithful to attend "The Mistakes of Intolerance" armed with prayer (evidently they are for intolerance?). As I was setting up the film projectors on the night of the event a few early arrivers appeared and announced that they were with the CCC. One of them wished to address the assembled audience prior to the films being presented. I had introductory remarks that I would be making and CCC boy wanted "equal time." I informed him that he and his group were already infesting every corner of the campus like cockroaches and if they failed to remain quiet, I would call security. I was in no mood whatsoever to put up with these superficial simpletons.

These CCC boys were the least "manly" things imaginable and I put full press on my wide shoulders and railroad background to intimidate them into their place. I exaggerated the issue, I informed them that they were too effeminate to be homosexual, but if they were interested there was GLF literature available to them at the exit table. (Not that there is ever one too effeminate, but I was barely twenty years old and had no backup). They remained quiet.

The program went off without a hitch to a predictably small summer audience. Several persons took literature and contacted me later. Remember, I was still the feared person to know among Gays in West Lafayette. No one wanted to linger to be seen with me following any public Gay event, which was fine. It was disappointing, but typical at Prude U in 1973. It was often lonely.

Afterward, I went to dinner alone at the Student Union and was suddenly joined at my table after hearing, "He's over there!" by a half dozen of the least effeminate CCC members, who had been enlisted by the wimpy ones after the film revue, having the expressed desire to "save" me over my pecan pie.

Over a long and torturous conversation lacking any form of logic I was informed:

That I was sinful.

"Oh really!" I said, "and you are not?"

They could not say back to me that they were not sinful and violate their own teachings

That I was deluding myself.

Oh Really:" I said "and you are not?"

After they pressed this, I reminded them that our imperfect minds could not know all anyway.

That there is no excuse for my actions and I am hated in the eyes of God and Man.

"Bullshit!" I said. "God is unconditional love. He made me as I am, for a purpose he will reveal to me in good time. But don't worry; I am sure he forgives even you."

They kept hanging about until I became quite bored and began to compliment each of them on the beauty of their hair, eyes and noses until they became red faced embarrassed.

"You know, I could sit here and gaze into your lovely eyes all day while you deceive yourself." I said at one point.

Of course for these 18 to 20 year old boys to be complimented on their appearance by me would ordinarily bring out their immature hostility. A great number of young men overcompensate on testosterone. The ones who feared their possible gayness could frequently be the most violent as they have the most to lose. I knew about male hostility and had dealt with it already.

These boys were completely stuck. They could not resort to vulgarity or violence due to the code of conduct they enforced on themselves. They thought to intimidate me by their number but instead they got to hear about one another's "kissable lips." Finally to contain their red faced embarrassment and fury, they slid away with their little Christian tails dragging behind them.

They told me they would pray for me, for which I thanked them but asked that they also pray for understanding and tolerance of variety in the world.

From the unpublished book: "Gifts, Some Secrets Take a Lifetime." by Robert Ganshorn

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Thanks for sharing this, Robert. I always enjoy hearing about stories from our community's past.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | June 7, 2008 1:27 PM

And sadly it is still our present.

Gerri Ladene | June 7, 2008 3:05 PM

I remember those years well although I was no collegiate and had to work the trades to survive they were still good times! My memories of Indiana were of fishing the Tippecanoe, floating the Kankakee and hunting for Morels in the spring, Festivals of every kind, outdoor concerts and cookouts these where indeed fond memories. The atmosphere pertaining toward anything to do with GLBT in the rural communities was much the same as anywhere else, a slowly growing acceptance. A Methodist Minister acquaintance of mine from those days felt that understanding and acceptance would eventually prevail and we would all be treated equally and fairly. I miss my old fishing buddy! He was straight, married and liked to have an occasional beer while fishing! The fanatics aka religious extremists were to be watched out for as always, claiming forgiveness whenever they choose to break from practicing what they preached and practice something less Christian. Seems like there is a rise in their rhetoric these days since they have finally learned how to use the internet themselves promoting their message of bias, of course all their websites have titles proclaiming American or Christian values but not equal constitutional values! They have to have an opponent for their prejudice to be valid and as history has always shown it's minorities that make for easy targets. They would have others believe the LGBT is nothing more than a sin that has to be eradicated. If they would keep their beliefs to themselves and not think they had some right to force it onto others I wouldn’t feel the need to oppose their beliefs but they just don’t know how to live and let live some people just prove themselves to be thick headed over and over! As time goes on though it becomes more obvious which of the denominations encourage division from the ones that favor unity and real freedom!
Anywho, it’s always nice to see something relating to Robert G. being a displaced Hoosier it’s nice to think of home.

Nicely said. Just that. Nicely said.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | June 7, 2008 10:12 PM

Gerri, Thank you, I am just waking up. You may recall that homosexual acts were illegal in Indiana in 1972. When GLF was recognized the Lafayette "Courier-Journal" editorial page and Letters to the editor were particularly vicious. A publicly funded university allowing a homosexual group on campus was even derided as the moral equivalent of "legitimizing pickpockets." I was in an interesting spot being working class, Hoosier Scholar" who still had to earn enogh money to pay his living costs.

I have to ask you Gerri, Michael-Michelle? He was a pre op transexual I knew who worked at a hair salon. Last I heard of him was many years ago as he wished to go downlow. He had a man who accepted him as a woman and had the full surgery. Sweet person with a heart as big as Christmas. I had to go to Lafayette across the river and got to know a number of the good local townsfolk. I am sure we must have met if you were out and about in those 1972-1974 years. Remember "The House of Fitzgerald?"

I love hearing about our history too, Waymon. Thanks Robert.

Gerri Ladene | June 8, 2008 10:36 AM

Sorry to say Dear, I was further north during that time and for our paths to have crossed it would have been very unlikely but then again not totally improbable. I was totally rural only trekking out to the larger cities occasionally and that would have been Plymouth, South Bend , Gary, Michigan City and all points basically north of where I lived which was just a little ways east of Toto and west of Ober. Even now in my adopted state of Arkansas I gravitate toward the rural I can’t help it it’s just my way of staying close to nature having been a flower child and all.

I’m afraid I never met the acquaintance that you mentioned, Michelle, for I was never a patron of Fitzgerald’s House of Beauty where I assume she would have been. I can’t help but be reminded of Donna R’s recent posting and the confusion that seems to emit from those of us who are Trans when it comes to the use of descriptive pronouns when you inquired of this person. Even though we are the epitome of queerness in humanity our very own social standing is in the fact that we identify as opposite of our biological gender. Not beating you over the head here Robert but the proper use of pronouns and labels in the Trans community is highly personal expressive issue to us! There is a certain amount of confusion on this subject even among Trans and the emotional effect that pronouns have on us is very strong, intensely so when it comes to loved ones as you could see from Donna’s post and the comments that followed.

Still, I will always enjoy the articles that you post on TBP being that your part of the GLBT living history, one of it’s movers and shakers, and I have a deep appreciation of the efforts you where involved in and yet still keep abreast of. How are the Buddhists treating you over there? Wonderful people really!

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | June 8, 2008 12:52 PM

Gerri, thank you for your correction, and I stand corrected. It is because I first knew Michael when he had a beard that he grew to be "more acceptable" at work because the she that she was had delicate features. She and I would go out together only as friends and she dressed as a woman whenever she could and she shaved the beard of course.

Halloween was important because that was the one day of the year she was not subject to arrest in Indiana for dressing as a woman. She had great wisdom and taught me a lot about myself and coming into contact with my "feelings" because those sorts of things had been pushed out of me by the expectations of "manhood." I loved going driving with Michelle when she was dressed and she loved having me because I was ready, able and willing to intimidate anyone who would threaten her.

We had rednecks in those days who needed to be taught to leave us alone. Had there been a Matthew Shepard in those days (and there certainly was) the world would never have heard about it. At Purdue I and Rick Thacker (goddess bless her) would wupp ass as needed and remind those who had had their butts wupped that they forever would have to remember that they were wupped by us and not to pick on fairys.

Rick became a women's shoe buyer! What fun! Top exec at Spiegels, then Montgomery Wards and lastly Payless shoes. Sadly, he caught a mysterious Asian flu and died in 2001. Also a Hoosier boy.

Now as to Gay history, I am nothing. Franklin Kaemeny, my old boyfriend Vito Russo (ok, he was a one night stand, but he sent me letters!). People of this time, were the important folks. I had mentors and we all need them. With my partner I frankly got interested in Chicago neighborhood improvement. Sort of beyond "Gay Lib" to "people liberation." We lived openly in a not gay neighborhood, but we were the ones who sponsored Little League, Special Olympics, and served on the Park Board and worked with the police to keep gangs and drugs away from kids. I found this completely worthwhile because I could see the benefit to people I knew.

I am 55 years young and I am still learning and hope to learn much more. I have said it before, Bilerco Project has helped me reconnect with my inner gay man and I am grateful for that. For Buddhism ask Terrance, he is a practicing Buddhist and you will find him at "The Republic of T" I am a great admirer of Buddhism. I grew up in Michigan City. Maybe we were in Marquette Mall at the same time! I have a cousin living in Plymouth right now so you were closer than you thought.

Gerri Ladene | June 8, 2008 6:35 PM

Robert you are such a gentleman and your denial toward any worthy mention to your own early efforts at Purdue and the GLF are just too precious. I'm sure there are many who would thank you for having been there for them during that time.

You wouldn’t have seen me at the Marquette but if you liked outdoor concerts at the Dunes or fished the warm water discharge of NIPSCO power plant during the salmon and lake trout runs we may have possibly crossed paths. For me fishing is a welcome release from the surrounding world and a time of contemplation, relaxation and the thrill of the catch of course.

Anyways, it’s so nice to have a communiqué going with someone from a familiar time and place this has been very pleasant for me. Thank You!

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | June 9, 2008 12:02 AM

Gerri, like most things in life it is getting up and working one day at a time. What used to cheese me off was trying to get more than fifteen people on a very large campus to show up to a meeting. What is being done now is remarkable. I cringe at phrases above "Our community's past" or "history" because to me it is all current news until the problems are solved for everyone.

I guarantee that if you go to small towns (such as where you live which I am sure is beautiful) in Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Florida or anywhere in between there is still plenty of discrimination. That is one reason I had to choose the great city rather than the rural one. Thank you Gerri

Melanie Davis | June 9, 2008 3:57 AM

Thanks for that. I'm not sure if it made me feel good as in: there were those who were irritated and attacked before, or sad because the next generation of these poor, confused souls is caught in the tired misdirection of their parents.

I worked in downtown Indy at the Borders when CC4C kids came through. To their credit, they didn't actually confront people, at least not the 33% of employees who were queer. Mostly it was the Jr. high stares, whisper-giggles, and pointing. On the streets, they pretty much just kept to themselves or held loud get-togethers right in the middle of pedestrian thoroughfares.

Personally, I think their group had devolved into a convenient way for boys to get the scripturally safe BJs from the ultra-painted Tammy Fayes in-training. Apparently they get their definition of sex from Bill Clinton, how ironic. At least, that's the way it looked from my perch.

Thank you for fighting the tough war, your service and the service of those like you has made it possible for the newest generation of queer kids to feel anything but queer. The laws may not be changed, and he fundies may still howl at the door, but so much ground has been won. Sometimes it's easy to forget that.

Looking to contact Robert Ganshorn. I am a long-time Permanent Resident of Thailand (Canadian) and would like to meet.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | June 10, 2008 8:00 AM

I'm sorry, the internet has been down for a day because someone snipped a wire during a remodel somewhere in my building. I am not worthy of holding Franklin Kameny's coat. I have had correspondence with him and he remains amazing. When, on Bilerico Project I hear division over words, I think about his brave deeds.

Wilson46201 | June 10, 2008 3:17 PM

A historical note in the interest of IU/Purdue rivalry: the very first Hoosier GLF (Gay Liberation Front) was started in Bloomington, Indiana, at Indiana University in September of 1970.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | June 11, 2008 7:24 AM

Wilson, you are quite right. The conditions at Purdue was particularly oppressive. Not that there were not plenty of "stonies" at Bloomington with bigoted points of view. I finished my BA at Purdue in two years and nine months. Had I gone to IU instead it would have taken me six years. I did go on to IU for my graduate degree, but I tell anyone who bothers with rivalry that each school is right from it's own point of view, I dislike sports so I truly don't care about who has an oaken bucket, but care deeply about who has a cultural life and IU certainly had a vibrant diverse cultural makeup Purdue probably still lacks.

Both schools are land grand colleges created by act of the Indiana State Legislature. Rivalry Schmivalry.