A Note on Corvallis, Oregon's GLBT Community
This section of my website is to inform GLBT visitors/potential home buyers/general public about Corvallis, Oregon's GLBT community. As of the present, I have lived in this area of Oregon my entire life. I try to travel as much as I possibly can, and I am also unafraid to write of what I have seen, in and outside of Corvallis. This makes many people feel threatened, people who have been made to think Corvallis is a small slice of Eugene. Just because you don't like what you're reading here does not mean it isn't happening.
Many people use the term "family" to describe GLBT, i.e., "is he family?" or "are they family?". This is a code word for GLBT that can be used in public places without risk of trouble. This is a description I have worked up of Corvallis's GLBT community as of the autumn of 2004. The list was originally taken from a medical journal and wrote in bold characteristics I strongly felt, by and large, described Corvallis's "family":
Members distrust each other. 1
Physical health neglected.
Symbiotic communication (vague and assumptive) 3
Problems vague and unresolved. 4
Values vague and inconsistant. 5
Members involved in verbal, physical or sexual abuse.
Privacy is denied/invaded.
Secrecy and denial. 6
High tension level. 7
Insensitive and inhibiting of individual feelings.
Avoids interaction with the community. 8
General mood is:
Let me go over these one by one.
1.) This characteristic could probably be applied to a number of different groups of people. It certainly applies to this one. I have never met a group of people in my life (yet) that know how to hold a grudge like GLBT. Wow.
2.) Corvallis is geograpghically fairly far from any truly gay-friendly communities. Eugene is the nearest, at circa 42 miles away. Corvallis is one of those cities that thinks its shit doesn't stink -- they pretend they are a miniature version of Eugene, but it doesn't fly. This is something people even outside the GLBT community in Corvallis could tell you. Corvallis, on lots of levels, thinks its a small Eugene.
3.) Boy X doesnt wear [insert name] brand clothing so they must be odd. This is assumptive. And yes, you do find a little of it in Corvallis. This is only a small example of it. Another good one would be, Boy X doesn't look like they fell out of an A&F magazine, so they must be a nerd and boring to hang out with.
4.) Corvallis's gay community is very, very clicky. In late 2003 a small seminar was held at OSU to try and address the problem, the OSU share of problem in particular, but ultimately it did produce good results. It wasn't for lack of trying -- a number of community members appeared at the seminar, Tony Robbins shed some crocodile tears (Tony -- if you're going to pretend to be a friend, don't bother doing this to begin with, simply be honest), and I got to meet some people I'd been talking with through email back and forth but had not yet met in person. In Portland, there are still clicks, but people tend to be more open to travel between them. There is a much greater sense of "do your own thing" attitude there. Yes, there is.
5.) A number of the GLBT community in Corvallis have voiced their support for anti-gay politician Gordon Smith. Smith used Judy Shepherd, mother of murder victim Matthew Shepherd (who was killed because he was gay), to get re-elected. Judy Shepherd is quoted in his television commercial as saying she thinks Matthew would have "considered Smith a friend". Come election 2004, Gordon Smith sends out thousands of pamphlets in the mail conveying his dislike of the idea of same-sex marriage. A total contradiction of what he said in his re-election campaign. (Judy was likely unaware of Smith's bullshit, or she'd have avoided him. I guaran-fucking-tee she does her homework these days!) Even though this was presented to the GLBT community in Corvallis, a number of its members, mostly elderly or uninformed, reiterated their like for Gordon Smith, even though he is against almost everything they are and stand for. Another good example of this is the Corvallis's supposedly gay-friendly City Council refusing to take a stand on the anti-gay Measure 36. (2004, which was to ban gay marriage in Oregon -- it passed with a 57% Yes vote -- repeal/overturning hearing scheduled for December 12th, 2004 on the grounds it violates section 20 of the Oregon Constitution which states that no law may be made in Oregon that applies to some citizens but not all. ...Repeal failed.) This was just three weeks after Eugene's City Council had endorsed a No vote. The Corvallis C.C.'s refusal to endorse a No vote shines a light on how the city thinks its a small version of Eugene, but ultimately sure as hell isn't. Just one reason why OSU has a lousy student retention rate when it comes to gay males.
6.) Denial denial denial. Corvallis has far more than its fair share of closeted gay males. The city professes to be diverse and "like Eugene", but in the end, it is not. (I refer you to OSU football player Eric Rudulph's race-motivated attack on the white solder home on leave from the Iraq war. The soldier's wife is a black female. Rudulph, a black male, had a problem with this when he spotted the couple in a bar in downtown Corvallis, and decided to pick a fight with the soldier. Since this was right before the final football game of the season, Rudulph received very little punishment.)
Many of these guys are college student age, and even though they are 2000 miles away from their conservative parents, they refuse to come out and turn to secret hook-ups with members of the GLBT community. This goes hand-in-hand with the fact most gay males between 18 and 25 in Corvallis refuse to date within Corvallis, and deal with this by either dating long distance (which is nearly always Portland, and sometimes Eugene) or not dating at all and having clandestine hook-ups with the closeted college students who they know won't tell. (again, see Craigslist, a veritable fountain of HIV and muggings) 7.) High tension level. By this point its pretty obvious.
8.) There are a great number of gay males in the college age group in Corvallis who never go out socially unless they are leaving town to go to the gay bars in Portland. They have a very small quiet group of gay friends inside Corvallis, and are very very cautious about letting anyone in their circle. Most of the time these guys in question are model types. Don't ask me why, thats just what I've seen. They pretend they are straight during the day, and then when they get home they are suddenly gay again. When the weekend rolls around, they are straight until they get in their car and drive to Portland, at which point they return to their true selves.
This sort of 'hiding out' lifestyle with hookups and secrecy leads to assaults, robberies, murder (remember the serial killers on Craigslist?) and AIDS. AIDS is now in an upswing because people think the 'cocktail' will save them if they become HIV-positive. Even-numbered decades have historically been bad for the GLBT community, and the odd-numbered ones the opposite, to an extent. 1970s -- Kicked off the decade with the Stonewall Riots which greatly spurred political activism, Harvey Milk. 1980s -- AIDS and a president who ignores the disease until well into his second term. Pat Robertson runs for president on the Jesus ticket. Jerry Falwell comes into the picture. 1990s -- Political activism, capped off with a spike of politcal activism unlike North America has ever seen (the Matthew Shepherd murder). Alas, unless you keep an eye on things, like Laramie, WY, they go back to the way they were before -- when 60 Minutes went back to Laramie around 2002, they found that the town had reverted back to the way it was before the Matt Shepherd murder. This is because talk is cheap. After the murder, Laramie still had no GLBT community. The memory of the murder faded.
Bend, Lebanon, Sweet Home, Shedd, Scio, Waterloo, Silverton, Dallas, Summitt, Depoe Bay, North Albany, Jaramillo, Dixon, Oregon State Univeristy, Pride Center, Queer Resource Center, Rainbow Continuum, Jeff Otis, Monte Guerber, Andy Tanner Mack, John Sykes, Andi Charlton, Luke Sugie, Andrea Charlton, Jeff Otis, Clinton Downs, Peter Asio, Joshua Wilhite, Joseph Rothleutner, Scott Jarrell, Prescott Jarrell, Michael Razavi, Jacob Allen Miller, John Price, Shawn Tucker,