I’m From South Bend, IN.

by Cliff Townsend

State Satellite overhead image from Google Earth 2022

I hail from South Bend, Indiana, where I grew up in a virtually non-homophobic environment. I did not witness any negativity from parents, teachers or other adults towards any of my gay schoolmates and friends, and there were many of us. Even the more flamboyant sissies in my peer group were treated with respect and non-attitude. I don’t know of any incidents of verbal or physical abuse to us queers. I suppose it was because same-sex experimentation was so prevalent, nobody had the right to point the finger at anyone else. Even the high-school jocks played around with each other. I knew a guy who made it with the entire basketball team! Their girlfriends knew about it but didn’t seem to mind either! As early as junior-high school, the boys were made to go completely nude in P.E. swimming class. This afforded us the opportunity to grope each other’s genitals while we romped in the pool.

I attended Indiana University in Bloomington from 1965-69, and there, too, we all enjoyed gay liberation years before it was officially declared as a result of the Stonewall Riots in New York City.

After college, I was drafted into the Army, where I continued my gay lifestyle. They didn’t ask, and we didn’t tell. We just had free sex wherever we could get it. And I still managed to finish my tour of duty with an honorable discharge.

So, in my particular case, my coming out was no big deal for me, as I was always accepted to be who I am. I have always found racism and sexism to be bigger problems in our society than homophobia ever was.

Sharing your story can change someone's life. Interested in learning more?