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Arts One more for the road 

Jump-Start’s Chuck Squier followed a well-beaten Texas path out of the closet

Piney Woods, white-bread Kilgore is pretty much about Friday-night football games and dating your college sweetheart, even marrying her. God forbid you should come out of the closet as a homosexual man. Homophobia’s thicker than seed ticks in the loblollys; gayness is equated with pederasts.

But that’s where Chuck Squier grew up.

Chuck Squier

“It took a long time to figure out I was gay; the only queers we heard about were pederasts, who were reviled,” says Squier, who teaches speech and drama classes at Palo Alto College, and who has worn many hats at Jump-Start Performance Co. “I knew gay was horrible, and I wasn’t gay because I knew I wasn’t horrible.”

Squier’s mother hailed from England, a war bride who came to Texas and raised four children in a town of 10,000 people in the Bible Belt. They were members of the Episcopal church.

During his early teens, Squier knew he was attracted to men, but he denied himself the truth. “I never sucked cock; I was a virgin. I thought it was more about what you did than who you are. Gays were cocksuckers in East Texas.”

Chuck graduated high school and studied English and speech at Kilgore Junior College, but it was not long before “the theater bug bit me, and I dropped English real quick.” He later earned a degree from Stephen F. Austin State University and went on to teach high school in Santa Fe ISD south of Houston.

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One more for the road
Jump-Start’s Chuck Squier followed a well-beaten Texas path out of the closet

Squier married his college sweetheart, and for 10 years he tried to live life as a heterosexual, but in the early 1980s he felt compelled to come out of the closet. “I was sick of lying, trying to cover myself and making things up, cheating yourself. It was exhausting, and to think how many high-school football games I would sit through.

I hate football.”

Squier finally told the truth, beginning with his family. “My whole family bristled at first, but six weeks later my mom saw me and noticed I was happier.”

There were consequences. His sister’s husband banned him from his household, although he had a good buddy in the local car culture who was suspected of being gay. An older brother, a born-again Christian,wrote a letter to him, suggesting that he chose to be gay. “I responded that I chose to tell the truth,” says Squier.

“My family is now cool. My Christian brother is worried that I might not get into heaven.”

In addition to his teaching duties at Palo Alto, Squier has worked with local playwright Sterling Houston for the past 20 years, and he serves on the Council of Stewards at Celebration Circle, an arts-based, non-denominational church in San Antonio.

But, how’s his love life? “I date, but you’ve got to play it safe; it’s a fact of life. I’m not HIV-positive and plan to keep it that way,” says Squier. “If you play with fire, you’re going to get burned. I have lost dozens of friends in San Antonio and around the nation.”

By Michael Cary

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