It took one weekend to leave Tessa Russell truly exposed.
On 6 April 2019, her girlfriend Ash Ables traveled to Liberty University in central Virginia to surprise her. They had been dating for four months, but it was her first time visiting Russell on campus.
The two were eating pizza in front of the TV when Russell’s resident adviser (RA) swiped into the room, catching the couple off guard. Because same-sex relationships are effectively verboten at the evangelical Christian school, Russell immediately tried to pass the relationship off as platonic.
Her resident adviser wasn’t buying it, and ordered Ables to leave campus. Russell frantically reached out to her Liberty LGBTQ network, and the couple crashed at a friend’s apartment.
Then Russell’s cellphone rang. Her RA demanded that she return, saying the two “could not be together”. Feeling that she didn’t have a choice, she left Ables and went back to