Openly gay athlete speaks on challenges he faces

Terrence Clemens, LGBTQ+ issues in athletics speaker, speaks to a crowd of 125 MSU students and faculty members in the Fain Fine Arts Auditorium on March 31 as a part of the frist social justice week put on by P.R.I.D.E. and the Fain Fine Arts College called Inclusion Now. Photo by Rachel Johnson

Terrence Clemens, LGBTQ+ issues in athletics speaker, speaks to a crowd of 125 MSU students and faculty members in the Fain Fine Arts Auditorium on March 31 as a part of the frist social justice week put on by P.R.I.D.E. and the Fain Fine Arts College called Inclusion Now. Photo by Rachel Johnson

After multiple incidences of social media bullying last semester, professors, administrators, and social justice organization leaders came together to create a social justice celebration called Inclusion Now. 

Jonathon Quam, mass communication assistant professor, said the idea for Inclusion Now came from Martin Camacho, Fain Fine Arts College dean. Quam and mass communication lecturer Christopher D’Amico led “the wrangling and pulling it all together.”

“Of most people on campus, D’Amico and I were best positioned [to lead Inclusion Now] and in the college we were best positioned,” Quam said. “Social justice is a massive background for both of us.”

Terrence Clemens, an openly gay basketball athlete, gave a lecture in Fain Fine Arts Theatre March 31 to 125 students, faculty, and community members about LGBTQ+ issues in athletics as part of Inclusion Now. He also showed clips from his documentary Game Face.

Keith Lamb, vice president of student affairs and enrollment management, confirmed that the Office of Student Affairs provided the funds to bring Clemens to the university, which cost $3,500 including travel.

Christopher Cruz, People Respecting Identity Diversity for Everyone president and theater freshman, was the one responsible for finding Clemens as an option for a guest speaker.

“In the beginning of the fall semester, I went to iLead and there was a speaker who was talking about being inclusive,” Cruz said. “He showed a picture of Terrence Clemens with his bio, and that was around the time I was starting PRIDE, so I thought it would be really good to have a guest speaker.”

Both Quam and D’Amico, along with other professors, offered extra credit for students to attend the lecture. 

“I’m here because of the [extra credit for] film class for D’Amico,” Hana Getahun, nursing sophomore, said.

Clemens emphasized that this was the biggest crowd he’d ever spoke to and the first time giving his lecture in an auditorium, which made him both excited and nervous. 

“Especially with all the minority students, it made me nervous speaking to my peers,” Clemens said. “It was really cool to be the first openly gay athlete speaking at the first social justice event here. I’m used to small classrooms, not giant stages, so [MSU] gave me a lot of freedom and let me live out my vision on this stage.”

Clemens smiled and gestured pointedly as he discussed his goals as a leader in LGBTQ+ equality. 

“I want us to be looked at more positively and in more of a normal sense. I want to genuinely change the minds of people who don’t give us a chance, not just in sports, but in the work world as well,” Clemens said. “It’s all about educating people in a way that’s not so flamboyant. Our society glorifies the flamboyancy of our sexuality, and that’s not what this is about.”

In his lecture, Clemens discussed his identity struggles with feeling comfortable in his own skin. He related that to an experience he had with a cousin whose religious views on homosexuality are extremely negative.

“Surprisingly, when I reached out to her to ask her about Game Face and everything, her religion does not allow her to accept it, but she said she still accepts me as family and loves me,” Clemens said. “If someone like her can change, then anyone can change.”

Cruz’s constant smile never faltered as he explained why he chose Clemens to come speak.

“I thought he was really cool because he was an athlete and he was gay, which is pretty unheard of and can cause a lot of controversy,” Cruz said.

Quam echoed these views as he leaned back in his chair, recalling his experiences with Clemens.

“Terrence came in and he was the nicest person I could’ve imagined from the get-go. The moment I went out and met with him and the guys he traveled with, they were nothing but respectful the whole time,” Quam said. “They asked, ‘How can we best address your student body or whoever comes to the speech?’ We talked with him the day before and he rearranged a lot of what he said to best fit what we needed [as a university].”

He expanded on the importance of displaying different perspectives on social issues, saying that Clemens spoke from a background that has been “badly missing from other speakers we’ve had on campus.” 

“It’s one thing for professor D’Amico and I to lead safe-zone trainings, but we’re two nearing-middle-aged white men, and we have different but similar perspectives on LGBTQ+ issues [than Clemens],” Quam said. “Terrence on the other hand could come in and speak from the perspective of having been a collegiate athlete and dealt with his identity issues in that capacity, having been from inner-city Los Angeles and dealt with his identity issues from that capacity, and living in rural Oklahoma while in college and dealt with his identity issues from that capacity.”

Quam also explained why Inclusion Now is so important for this campus and this community in general.

“This is just the beginning for social justice on our campus. It’s a part of our mission as a university and I think there’s a lot more that we can do to lead the way in this community in terms of creating more social justice programming and focus more on the disparities that exist in our community, both in Wichita Falls and on campus here,” Quam said. 

While change is never immediate, Quam discussed the future for Inclusion Now and the planning strategies for the next social justice celebration.

“I was talking to professor D’Amico and he described it best as, ‘This is a drop in the bucket.’ Can it be bigger? Absolutely. Will it get bigger? Absolutely,” Quam said. “We were able to pull this together in just a few weeks. If we come back at it next year with the timing of starting in the fall and building forward to spring, it will be something that we’ll be able to build up and make bigger and help students work before it instead of in response to it.”

Read more:

Staff Editorial: Educate yourself on social justice

Inclusion Now

Jazmin Brown, psychology sophomore, gets snacks from the refreshments tabel set up in the Atrium of the Fain Fine Arts building for the Inclusion Now event put on by P.R.I.D.E. and the Fain Fine Arts College, March 31. Photo by Rachel Johnson
Jazmin Brown, psychology sophomore, gets snacks from the refreshments tabel set up in the Atrium of the Fain Fine Arts building for the Inclusion Now event put on by P.R.I.D.E. and the Fain Fine Arts College, March 31. Photo by Rachel Johnson
Hana Getahun, nursing sophmore, looks at the art pieces put out for the Inclusion Now Week, put on by P.R.I.D.E. and the Fain Fine Arts College in the Fain Fine Arts Atrium, which will be up from April 6. Each of the pieces of artwork on display for the social justice event, represent different dipictions of the artist's views on social justice, inclusion, and discrimination. Photo by Rachel Johnson
Hana Getahun, nursing sophmore, looks at the art pieces put out for the Inclusion Now Week, put on by P.R.I.D.E. and the Fain Fine Arts College in the Fain Fine Arts Atrium, which will be up from April 6. Each of the pieces of artwork on display for the social justice event, represent different dipictions of the artist's views on social justice, inclusion, and discrimination. Photo by Rachel Johnson
Jonathon Quam, mass communication assistant professor, speaks about the events and art pieces set up in the Atrium of Fain Fine Arts for the event held on March 31 as a part of the Inclusion Now week put on by P.R.I.D.E. and the Fain Fine Arts College. 125 people showed up for the LGBTQ issues in athletics speaker, Terrence Clemens, which was held in the Fain Fine Arts Auditorium. Photo by Rachel Johnson
Jonathon Quam, mass communication assistant professor, speaks about the events and art pieces set up in the Atrium of Fain Fine Arts for the event held on March 31 as a part of the Inclusion Now week put on by P.R.I.D.E. and the Fain Fine Arts College. 125 people showed up for the LGBTQ issues in athletics speaker, Terrence Clemens, which was held in the Fain Fine Arts Auditorium. Photo by Rachel Johnson
Terrence Clemens, LGBTQ+ issues in athletics speaker, speaks to a crowd of 125 MSU students and faculty members in the Fain Fine Arts Auditorium on March 31 as a part of the frist social justice week put on by P.R.I.D.E. and the Fain Fine Arts College called Inclusion Now. Photo by Rachel Johnson
Terrence Clemens, LGBTQ+ issues in athletics speaker, speaks to a crowd of 125 MSU students and faculty members in the Fain Fine Arts Auditorium on March 31 as a part of the frist social justice week put on by P.R.I.D.E. and the Fain Fine Arts College called Inclusion Now. Photo by Rachel Johnson
Christopher Cruz, theater freshman and P.R.I.D.E. president, is given a few gift from Terrence Clemens, LGBTQ+ issues speaker, who thanked Cruz for communicating with him and bringing him to MSU for the first social justice movement week, this event was held in Fain FIne Arts Auditorium, March 31. Photo by Rachel Johnson
Christopher Cruz, theater freshman and P.R.I.D.E. president, is given a few gift from Terrence Clemens, LGBTQ+ issues speaker, who thanked Cruz for communicating with him and bringing him to MSU for the first social justice movement week, this event was held in Fain FIne Arts Auditorium, March 31. Photo by Rachel Johnson
Terrence Clemens, LGBTQ+ issues in athletics speaker, speaks to a crowd of 125 MSU students and faculty members in the Fain Fine Arts Auditorium on March 31 as a part of the frist social justice week put on by P.R.I.D.E. and the Fain Fine Arts College called Inclusion Now. Photo by Rachel Johnson
Terrence Clemens, LGBTQ+ issues in athletics speaker, speaks to a crowd of 125 MSU students and faculty members in the Fain Fine Arts Auditorium on March 31 as a part of the frist social justice week put on by P.R.I.D.E. and the Fain Fine Arts College called Inclusion Now. Photo by Rachel Johnson
Terrence Clemens, LGBTQ+ issues in athletics speaker, speaks to a crowd of 125 MSU students and faculty members in the Fain Fine Arts Auditorium on March 31 as a part of the frist social justice week put on by P.R.I.D.E. and the Fain Fine Arts College called Inclusion Now. Photo by Rachel Johnson
Terrence Clemens, LGBTQ+ issues in athletics speaker, speaks to a crowd of 125 MSU students and faculty members in the Fain Fine Arts Auditorium on March 31 as a part of the frist social justice week put on by P.R.I.D.E. and the Fain Fine Arts College called Inclusion Now. Photo by Rachel Johnson
Jonathon Quam, mass communication assistant professor, puts away the microphone that Terrence Clemens, LGBTQ+ issues in athletics speaker, used for his lecture on the issues he faced on being the first openly gay athlete to come out, and how he overcame them, and how people who face the similar problems he did can handle them. Photo by Rachel Johnson
Jonathon Quam, mass communication assistant professor, puts away the microphone that Terrence Clemens, LGBTQ+ issues in athletics speaker, used for his lecture on the issues he faced on being the first openly gay athlete to come out, and how he overcame them, and how people who face the similar problems he did can handle them. Photo by Rachel Johnson
Aaron Jones, Terrence Clemens' boyfriend and manager, is in chargeof th merchandise table put out after the lecture given by Clemens, a LGBTQ+ speaker, spoke on the issues he faced with being the first openly gay athlete to come out, held in the Fain Fine Arts Auditorium, March 31. Photo by Rachel Johnson
Aaron Jones, Terrence Clemens' boyfriend and manager, is in chargeof th merchandise table put out after the lecture given by Clemens, a LGBTQ+ speaker, spoke on the issues he faced with being the first openly gay athlete to come out, held in the Fain Fine Arts Auditorium, March 31. Photo by Rachel Johnson