Autobiographical essay as published in Princeton University's 1955 at 50:
WILLIAM A. PERCY, III “WILL”
I was immensely relieved last year to be reclassified by the Supreme Court as no longer a felon. In 1973-4, the American Psychological Association, and in 1974-5, the American Psychiatric Society, proclaimed that I was no longer ill or in need of therapy. Thanks to the Massachusetts Supreme Court, I may now marry a male. The Episcopal Church has ordained a practicing homosexual as bishop, a daring move I fervently pray will result in a schism no deeper than that between the High and the Low Church. The Pope, however, as well as the Born Agains, still considers me a sinner. The Massachusetts legislature since 1989 has protected my kind against discrimination in housing, which I don’t need because I own 10 condos in Boston’s South End. My freshman advisor at Princeton, Goheen, was running for president and didn’t have time for me. I fled at the end of my sophomore year because Dean Godolphin sent me to a shrink, to whom I was devious enough not to confess, fearing, correctly, expulsion. I was denied a junior year in Paris because my sophomore advisor, the eminent Presbyterian, E. Harris Harbison, deemed me “too immature,” a Freudian concept for homosexuals. So I fled to the Army, not having been skillful enough to bed more than two fellow students at Princeton, and then only once each. Worse, I hadn’t really gotten to know my way around the gay haunts in Manhattan, no doubt because I wore gray flannel to Greenwich Village. I found the Army more congenial. For a year I was at Fort Ord in the infantry (sleeping with all those handsome butch recruits in the barracks) and then weekending in San Francisco, where no one ever let me buy my own drink. After learning Norwegian at the Army Language School, I was pictured on the front page of the Army Times as the 10,000th graduate. Then the CIA recruited me to interpret French in a spy school on Saipan. J.R. Strayer himself, my favorite history teacher and a classmate of Allen Dulles’, opened the door to the CIA, which perhaps was why they took me despite the fact that their lie detector caught me denying my homosexuality. I graduated from Tennessee in ’57, went for a year to Cornell, then to the University of Naples, back to Cornell after Ted Mommsen’s suicide, and finally finished my Ph.D. at Princeton, about taxes in medieval Sicily, under Strayer. Next, I taught at the University of New Orleans, the most integrated in the South, which radicalized me, and next at L.S.U., the largest in the South, if you didn’t count Texas. I was run out, denounced as a dangerous Communist by the head of the state’s Democratic Party because I favored integration and opposed the war. I escaped to St. Louis. The President of the University of Missouri was greatly relieved to learn that I was at St. Louis rather than Columbia, where he was. After two years, that dump fired me – the low point of my adult life. Then I lucked into a high-paying job at University of Massachusetts Boston. By adhering to How to Win Friends and Influence People, a book far superior to the Bible, I quickly became the most popular professor on campus and the Chancellor’s best friend. This brought me early tenure and promotion in 1974 despite scant publications – half a book on the Renaissance. Then I decided to drop my disguise. Heeding my cousin Wallis’ quip that one can never be too thin or too rich, I shed 40 pounds on a Mexican sabbatical diet of mangos and huevos tibios with dry toast every other morning. On return I appeared for the first time ever in blue jeans at the faculty club and gave How to Win Friends to a bumptious student. I’ve never been appointed to significant committee since, although I have steadily attracted a devoted clique of students and have published books about Greek pederasty, Roman marriage ages, as well as co-edited the two-volume Encyclopedia of Homosexuality, and a far-ranging book advocating Outing. I am currently suing UMB for homophobia.