Sometimes I Run Because I’m PISSED

 “Hi! My name’s Mike Strickland, and I’m an asshole!”


What Would Jesus Do? I mean really, if Jesus found out a few weeks before Christmas that, say, a gay soccer coach and her partner had just discovered they were going to have a child, and that they were really excited about it and, naturally, talked about it with friends and colleagues, what would Jesus do?

Apparently, he’d get holier-than-thou, fire her from her job, unceremoniously slam the door in her face, and then lie to everyone from Joe Blow to God about the truth of what really happened. Obviously this is what Belmont University, a self-proclaimed “Christian environment” school, thinks Jesus would do, because that’s exactly what they did yesterday.

Belmont University is a private school. And since there are no federal or state guidelines which identify homosexuals as a “protected class” for the purposes of discrimination (such as gender, race, age, disability), the university has a legal right to do whatever they want to create what they feel are  ideal work requirements. That said, discrimination, whether legal or not, really REALLY sucks.

And it still sucks in 29 states (twenty-nine!!), where gay people still have no legal recourse when some balding Oh-look-I-still-have-puffs-of-hair-on-the-sides-of-my-arrogant-homophobic-head! jackass, like the Poindexter pictured above, tells someone they’re fired because they’re gay. Granted, most states, even with their antiquated lack of anti-discrimination language, rarely fire people for being gay anymore. As with the growing pains of any minority gaining equal rights, there’s that lag between the law and what people know is right. Unfortunately, Belmont and Blowhole Strickland are clearly lagging waaaaay behind.

I grew up gay in the Deep South in the 70s and 80s, and I’m here to tell you that there were times when it was no picnic whatsoever. Not so much because I ever got picked on or bullied. Most people never had a clue that I was gay because I hid it so well. Meanwhile, I was ashamed, embarrassed, afraid, bottled-up, neurotic, and fake. I spent a lot of my teen years believing everyone would hate me if they really knew me, and that’s no way to be when you’re 16. It’s no surprise to me that I started running, a LOT, when I was 17. I don’t care if it sounds dramatic: running freaking saved my life.

Anyway, things did get better, and society has changed tremendously since 1977. But it’s been a slow (to me, anyway) change, and it’s only been within the past 10 years or so that I finally feel pretty much okay with being who I am and with not hiding or covering up for fear of the repercussions.

I guess that’s what has upset me so much about the Belmont bullshit. Not only was someone fired for not adhering to the university’s moronic “don’t ask, don’t tell, and for the pure and Christian love of God, pretend to be someone you’re not!” policy, but it also sends a crystal clear message to the many gay students at Belmont who may be struggling like I was years ago: If you’re gay and you don’t hide it, you deserve to be punished.

One more thing that pisses me off. Belmont is apparently more than happy to take monstrous amounts of tuition money from openly gay and Jewish students, while turning right around and announcing that it’s against their “Christian” policy to accept gay or Jewish professors and coaches. WTF? WWJD? OMG!!

And here’s the kicker. Back in 2003 I decided to get an M.A. in English so that I could (I hoped) work as a writer. I ended up at a school where the professors were excellent, open-minded, and diverse. They encouraged progressive and even radical thinking and writing. They were thrilled to death when I wrote about my youthful homo experiences. They were nearly incapacitated with joy when I spoke openly about being a lesbo.  A’s for days!

Not long after graduation, I did, in fact, get a job writing for a truly wonderful publisher. I’ve written any number of things for Townsend Press, but I’m particularly happy with an essay I wrote about growing up gay in the South. It’s included in one of their recent textbooks for young people in hopes of encouraging gay kids and enlightening kids who may need just a tad of enlightening. I remember, after it was published, feeling a lot of gratitude for the great professors I’d had in graduate school at…that’s right!….Belmont University.

HA HA HA Belmont! Kiss my ass! I get the last laugh, you myopic, insufferable, arrogantly pious, discriminatory alma mater!

Anyway, I’m going for a run now. I don’t claim to speak for him, but I’m pretty sure that’s what Jesus would do too.


21 thoughts on “Sometimes I Run Because I’m PISSED

  1. for what it’s worth, i hate you for who you are. i am not so shallow as to hate you for being gay. i am enlightened. i hate the whole you.

  2. my previous comment is “awaiting moderation”, and while i could be completely mistaken about how these things work, i don’t believe that words on a page are going to attain moderation, no matter how long they wait.

  3. I know how you feel. I am a Belmont student and just got the word today. When I heard, I suddenly remembered how proud I was that weekend when I thought about how my two moms showed up to drop off some food so I wouldn’t have to cook for finals week, and my mother was wearing bright red shirt that said “Belmont Mom”. When I heard, I crept into the bathroom of Fidelity Hall and teared up from the shame of it all. What was I doing at this school and what evil am I supporting, I wondered. The bathroom in Fidelity is ancient, hot and mouldy smelling, so I took a deep breath and went and sat on a window ledge. Just then my religion professor walked by. She looked like she was returning from lunch with a co-worker. I know what you meant in your article by “fake”. It makes you smile at people with the strangest grimace that you don’t mean. It makes you choose your words so carefully. My religion professor suddenly stopped. “Are you ok?” she asked. I know her well enough to know if I told her about my two mothers and what was really bothering me, she wouldn’t judge, she wouldn’t bat an eyelash. I didn’t need to tell her though. “I’m fine,”I said and I wasn’t lying. Not quite believing me though she lingered uneasily. But this time I flashed her a real smile. I really was fine because Belmont is not the administration. It’s people like her who care. The majority of Belmont staff and students are this way. I don’t go to Belmont because it is on the US News and World Report list. I go because of people like her, trying to be Christ-like in the middle of a University that has stopped listening to it’s students and staff.

    Like I said, I understand your anger. As the child of a gay woman, I’ve spent my whole life on pins and needles spitting out each word with caution, unsure when hatred will rear it’s ugly head. That being said, please don’t call us Belmont assholes. It only gives people fuel for their hateful fires. Please pray for Belmont! Every day. This is a school full of caring people who genuinely want to change the world for the better. Perhaps the administration has stopped listening to their amazing students and staff. This isn’t the first decision this year that has involved the administration ignoring the wishes of students and staff. We feel Belmont is turning from a caring, loving, student centered school to a large corporate degree mill. We need your prayers. I need your prayers.

    I understand the shame, I underst

  4. …my phone cut off. Sorry.

    I understand the shame of lying because I never know who I’m talking to or what their reaction will be, but Belmont is by far one of the most loving environments I’ve ever been in. Besides perhaps my own childhood home, but again, it has nothing to do with Belmont administration or policies. It has to do with the people who go there.

    And FYI, the majority of Belmont staff and students are in favor of gay student groups and open to the possibility of bringing in professors of other religions. Honeslty when these decisions get made, I shake my head and wonder who proposed these ideas and who they think they will benefit.

    1. Thanks for your comments, Amanda!
      Don’t worry…I certainly don’t mean to imply that everyone at Belmont is an ass. Like I wrote in this blog, my experiences at Belmont were in direct contrast with how this one dope, Strickland, behaved. I found it to be a welcoming, open-minded, progressive atmosphere the entire time I was there. This is why what happened made me (and loads of other Belmont students, alums, teachers, and administrators) so angry.

      That being said, if Belmont really wants to restore my faith in their being a school I’m proud to have graduated from, they need to publicly apologize and make amends. So far, they seem pretty reluctant to do that.

    1. so — you’re saying the church/school should respond according to the instruction of paul and not according to the example of jesus. ergo, you are giving the words of a paul more creedance, holding his words up as the correct pattern rather than considering the actions of jesus an exemplar. it bears remembering that paul was an interpreter of jesus’s teachings – he was trying to help his contemporaries live christian lives. paul was a follower. jesus is the teacher.

      but, then, i’m a druid. what do i know.

  5. Tanya:

    I’ve been reading your blog for about a year and half now and I really like the way way you have handled being gay. Anyone who reads the blog can figure it out, but you don’t normally advertise it.

    However, there are times when you need to stand up and you have done so very nicely in this blog.

    BTW I used to run and live in Nashville under the name of John Harper. I was a friend of Scott and Amy Barrow among others.

    I’d love hear back from you and you may feel free to coantct me at my email address.

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