“Hidden Lives” by Richard Just ’01 (cover story, April 3) brought to mind my years at Princeton in the early 1960s, when I, too, grappled (not very successfully) with my sexual orientation. A few weeks into my freshman year, I found myself face to face with a University health-center psychiatrist (I had checked what apparently was a “red-flag” box marked “nervousness” on a questionnaire for entering freshmen). When the bushy-browed doctor peered over his glasses and gently asked if I had problems with the “opposite sex,” I tensed my body and — too quickly — responded with an emphatic “No!”
My denial lasted through my college years and well into my adult life, even though, at Princeton, I had an unrelenting crush on a classmate, fantasized excessively about well-turned fellow undergraduates, and laughed uneasily whenever there was speculation about the sexuality of a professor or fellow student. Eventually, I reluctantly confessed my predilection to my roommates but in such a way — so powerful was my self-loathing and desire to be accepted — that I allowed my predicament to become trivialized into a joke.
Eventually, far beyond Princeton and after an ill-conceived marriage, I gradually became more accepting of myself. Since graduation, I have returned to Princeton two times, once in the late 1960s to the wedding of a roommate and once, last May, to a children’s concert performed by my nephew at McCarter Theatre. As I strolled with my partner and my brother (also a Princetonian) and his wife along the slate walkways amid all that springtime gothic beauty, I marveled that, except for my brother, what few friends I had from my collegiate days were no longer in my life.