Equality Ride at OBU: Day One
The Ones Not Afraid

Equality Ride at OBU: Day Two

I didn't post yesterday because I was physically and spiritually drained. But today is gorgeous, and my energy is renewed.

I wasn't drained because anything bad had happened. No, drained because I had made contact with one of those deep sacred places inside. I'll explain that later.

Friday I didn't arrive in the morning, so I can't give insight into what actions the Equality Riders may have taken. I do know that there was a lot of debate within the group. Some thought that they should push harder and take more direct action. My view was the direct action's purpose is to open an opportunity for dialogue. That had happened, so let's see where that gets us and reserve the option for more action later. Plus, the rally would be our chance to tell our story and give our spin to the news (OBU was able to successfully manage the news reports to put them in a good light, which I knew was happening, but I took what I could get). Unfortunately the hordes of press that had been there on Thursday weren't at the rally on Friday. They missed hearing our stories.

A small crowd gathered at Lion's Club Park around 1 p.m. There were a handful of OBU students. A couple of administrators. Some local ministers: baptist, Episcopalian, Unitarian, etc. Members of the OKC gay community. And only a couple of alums (I wish there had been more).

The first person to speak was a young woman named Ryan who was kicked out of OBU at the end of her freshman year (2002) because friends had twice reported that she was kissing a girl. Though this part of Ryan's story was horrible enough, what came next was worse. Her rejection and punishment by OBU sent this once committed missionary major into a spiral of drug abuse and a host of accompanying problems.

While Ryan was speaking, I lost it and began to cry uncontrollably. What came to mind was the fact that I had warned the OBU administration more than a decade ago that their treatment of gay students was going to lead to damaged lives with horrible consequences. In a letter to Bob Agee I had even said that if someone was hurt by his actions, then their blood would be required at his hands.

I don't cry all the time, but once I get going, it is difficult to stop. Harry Wooten talks about people who cry at the opening of grocery stores. I'm not that bad, but I can really cry when I get started. Especially when a deep, sacred places is opened up. Even moreso when it is a place of pain and fear.

I was up next to speak. Through my tears I shared by feeling, my story of arguing this issue with the administration, my lack of courage to be out as a student. I was thankful that this conversation had gotten started and that Thursday had been beautiful. I was thankful for the faculty and staff who had been silent allies. We need silent allies in repressive situations. But I wish that more of those allies would have the courage to speak out, otherwise we'll have more stories like Ryan's. I intended this last part as a challenge, and hope it was heard as such.

Then we sang and a group of local Shawnee folk were introduced, all of whom had volunteered to serve as resources for gay kids that needed help.

As the rally broke up, we all mingled around. There were current students who are gay who spoke to me. I was moved by these conversations. I thanked the Riders for creating this space for us. I was hugged a lot.

As Marty O'Gwynn was leaving we spoke openly. He thanked me for sharing my story and hoped that with what had happened the last two days, there wouldn't be any more stories like that.

In two weeks I plan to follow up with the administrators and faculty members who said they wanted to talk further. I'm soliciting comments or stories from other alums who may want the administration to hear what their perspective was.

The strange irony is that this was the first time in baptist life that I've gotten to stand up as out and proud and openly speak my story. Not at a CBF meeting, or youth camp, or any of my previous churches.


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