A Night in the OCU Chapel

Oklahoma City University has come a long way since my first undergraduate year of 1984-85 when all of the male students were brought together one evening for an emergency and mandatory meeting in the sanctuary of the chapel and told by the dean of students that there had been reports of “homosexual activity” on campus, that “homosexual activity would not be tolerated on campus,” and that we “should report any and all such activity” to the dean of students.

The general reaction of the students to the meeting was that we were being asked to cross a line of privacy that should not be crossed, and many of the students were upset that we were brought together in such a way and asked to report “homosexual activity” to the dean of students. Fortunately, the university received some negative publicity about the meeting, and the attempts by the dean of students to police the sexual orientation of OCU students fell by the wayside. The dean of students retired after that year, and I don’t recall such open and blatant discrimination by OCU towards LGBTQIA+ students again while I was a student, though I am sure the meeting that night in the chapel had a chilling effect on many students for quite some time.

I am thankful that today OCU is much more supportive of our LGBTQIA+ students, faculty, and staff, but we have at least one more discriminatory policy that must go so that current students and alumni may experience full acceptance in our community. We still don’t allow same sex or same gender marriages in that same sanctuary of the chapel where my gay friends were traumatized and our community was divided on that night of bigotry so long ago.

Unfortunately some of the OCU trustees and the United Methodist Church are perpetuating this discriminatory policy against our siblings by telling them they are not worthy of being married in the OCU Chapel like any other OCU students, staff, faculty, or alumni are able to do. Other than this discriminatory policy on weddings, OCU is one of the most open and affirming universities in this region of the country.

Hopefully very soon there will be many nights and many days in the OCU Chapel when we will celebrate the weddings of our LGBTIA+ students, faculty, staff, or alumni. It is long past time to wipe clean this residue of discrimination and bigotry from our campus once and for all and fully show each other and the world that we are a community of love and not hate.

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