on the cross

The 26-Year-old Theatre Student Who Caused Tarleton State University’s Gay Jesus Saga


When Tarleton State University canceled a student’s classwork production of Terrence McNally’s Corpus Christi, school administrators originally planned on letting family members of the cast see the show at a private, invite-only performance. Then they canceled that too. Because: Gay Jesus? Uh uh. And now we know who to blame for upsetting the fragile minds of higher education and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst: John Jordan Otte, who is, of course, a homo.

The whole thing began when John Jordan Otte, an openly gay 26-year old theater student at Tarleton State University in Stephenville, received his advanced directing course’s midterm assignment: select, direct, and produce a one-act play of his choice. The end result, as fellow Tarleton student Kelsie Ray put it while anchoring a student-produced news program, was “one of the most controversial stories to hit Stephenville since the Klan rally in 2007.”

[…] “Every citizen is entitled to the freedom of speech,” Dewhurst said in a statement on Friday, the day before the scheduled performance, “but no one should have the right to use government funds or institutions to portray acts that are morally reprehensible to the majority of Americans.” Hours later, the performance was cancelled by the professor of the course, Mark Holtorf, citing security concerns and “the need to maintain an orderly academic environment.” There is no plan to reschedule it. Otte will be graded based on his final tech rehearsal.

“It baffles me that he thinks he has any right to weigh in on such a decision when this is an institution of higher learning,” says Otte of Dewhurst’s statement, likening it to having the state’s second highest-ranking official issue an unsolicited critique of a college English paper. “It was never intended to be an attack on Christians by the playwright or me. If he [Dewhurst] would even take the time to read or watch the play, he would in no way have that opinion.”

Moreover, the production wasn’t even a part of Tarleton’s official theater schedule. It was just a class assignment for Otte. To get a grade. For which Otte was footing the entire bill. And you have a theater department at the school because …?

[Texas Tribune] [photo via]