by Jamie St. Ledger
For most riders, today was a bittersweet departure from Cleveland, TN, where we have spent the past two days meeting and befriending Lee University students. I always suspected that I would be engaged in deeply stimulating conversations on the college campuses we visit, but underestimated the possibility of making friends. Lee University has thus permanently altered my purpose on this ride, as several students have shaken my understanding of what it means to be LGBTQ and Christian.
After all of the Bible talk and sharing of our experiences in and out of the closet, many of us decided to simply hang out with our new friends, eating lunch and dinner together, attending campus concerts, bowling, dancing, and growing comfortable enough to break down formalities and speak raw truth. Time is too short and we must hit the road too soon, now burdened with the full emotional gravity of our tour. Several Lee University students have told me that they had anxiously looked forward to our visit, felt more capable of being their uncensored selves in our presence, and would now miss the social oasis we had provided. What will happen now that we are gone?
Will Lee University administrators reconsider the cruel effects of its discriminatory policies affecting homosexuals and make brave amendments? Or will it choose to investigate and expel more LGBTQ students? My heart is now painfully interwoven in the outcome.
I awoke on the bus to a very surreal visit to Union University. As Union students are on spring break, we planned only to stay long enough for prayer, song, and the telling Dawn Davridge’s personal story. Dawn is a rider who was expelled from Union with her partner for being a lesbian. I expected that this would all take place in the center of Union’s campus. Instead, our bus drove away from the heart of campus and into a large, grassy field whose perimeters were outlined with yellow police tape. If we left these boundaries, we would be arrested. By the time our bus came to a halt, we were next to a few mounds of dirt that we chose to use as a speaking platform. If a bunch of LGBT people and straight allies speak out against anti-gay discrimination atop a pile of mud on the fringe of an unpopulated campus, does anybody hear?