Friday, July 22, 2011


Once upon a time, I made a shirt that said: "i'm okay if you're gay".

Well, that's not entirely true.  I had over 40 made.  ("community" was on the back.)

I thought it would be fun if those of us who agreed with this statement wore them to school (BYU) on the same day.

I had also relatively recently been through the Honor Code Office for, among other things, "advocating homosexuality as being morally acceptable."  I was wary of having to go back.  (Note: "advocacy" has since been removed from the Honor Code.)

After speaking with my father, a cautious attorney, I decided to confirm with administrators at BYU that this would not ... cause any administrative problems.  I (with a friend) spoke with one of the deans of the university, who was kind and referred us to another dean.  We went to this second dean's office.

Dean #2 suggested that a group of students wearing shirts like these on campus--and meeting for lunch, taking a picture together, etc.--may be considered a formal act of public expression, for which permission must be granted by the university.  As final exams were fast approaching, he suggested we try for a later date.

A formal act of public expression.

I felt ashamed to do so, but I cancelled the event.  Maybe nothing would have come of it had we continued with it.  Or maybe something wonderful might have come of it.  Maybe some gay/lesbian/bi/trans (ok, I don't think there are any transsexuals at BYU yet ... ) guy or girl might have seen the shirts and realized that the world isn't such a harsh, judgmental place.

Those moments--when we realize how beautiful the world actually is--are significant.  Did I ever tell you that once a BYU professor referred me to a magazine issue published at Notre Dame that dealt with the lives and experiences of gays associated with ND?  That was a "the world is beautiful" moment for me.

Several days later, I decided to see if I was over-reacting.  But no--having invitations by Facebook (Facebook!), meeting, and snapping a picture, according to Dean #2, seemed formal.

Several students wore their shirts anyway--by their own volition.  I've worn mine--by myself--a few times and received pretty positive responses.

This experience reminds me of the YouTube video posted above, about students who protested Dick Cheney's coming to speak at graduation several years back.  If your time is limited, jump to 2:40 and see President Samuelson's response to one student asking why BYU responds to things like this the way they do.  It's golden.  (Does anyone know if it's been clipped shorter than the actual response was for dramatic effect?)


  1. The School is not afraid of anything, Justin, because the school intimidates its students to the point that they are scared to do anything remotely true to themselves.

  2. P.S. Justin, would it be possible to do another round of these things somehow? Could you tell me exactly how you did it so maybe I can make some and circulate them? I keep having people ask where they can get one.

  3. Hah--you're right. And yeah, I'd love to see something like this done. I'll email you the design, info on how we did it, and info on how to become an admin of the FB page.