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Expelled Gay Student Reluctant Hero


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Expelled Gay Student Reluctant Hero

by The Associated Press

April 16, 2006 - 5:00 pm ET

(Louisville, Kentucky) Jason Johnson has spent the weeks since his expulsion from college trying to get a grasp of the furor swirling around him.

"I'm sort of getting my life in line right now and balance it with this sort of mantle I've assumed," Johnson said.

Johnson, a 20-year-old sophomore at the University of the Cumberlands, a small Baptist school in Williamsburg, Ky., posted entries about being gay and his dating life on his MySpace.com web page.

School administrators found out about Johnson's site earlier this month and expelled him from school, sparking a media swirl, possible legal battle and even a political debate over whether the state should give the university $11 million a new pharmacy school.

The school has declined comment on Johnson's expulsion, but college officials have said the university has a policy that says it reserves the right to expel a student who "promotes sexual behavior not consistent with Christian principles," including homosexuality.

Johnson said that was a policy many students were aware of, but no one seemed to follow, so he didn't think the web site would cause any problems.

"Mostly I did it just as a way to tell everybody in my life what's going on in my life," said Johnson in a phone interview from his home in Lexington. "I didn't think anything was going to come out of it."

Johnson declined to discuss any possible legal action against the school, saying his lawyer advised him not to.

Since leaving the school, Johnson said his life has changed "pretty dramatically." Johnson said he went to college to learn and figure out how being gay and Christian "fit into the overall picture of who I am."

The expulsion from school is an opportunity to talk about what he has learned, Johnson said.

"This case has become an outlet for me to speak out about Christianity and sexual orientation and how those two aren't mutually exclusive," Johnson said. "You can be a gay Christian. I know, I am one."

He's getting an opportunity to speak to a large audience. Along with newspaper stories, Johnson's case has been featured on CNN and National Public Radio. He also taped a segment set to air Monday on Paula Zahn's show on CNN.

And, now that he's been expelled from his college of choice, Johnson is looking for a place to finish his education in theater and learning how to juggle the demands of his sudden fame. Johnson said he's waiting to hear from Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond, Ky., doing interviews and responding to e-mail and phone messages.

"It's been a wild ride so far. It's kind of like a roller coaster. It goes up and it goes down," Johnson said.

©365Gay.com 2006

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