Updated: Jun 14, 2018
My first week of junior year I came back to school and met a gay freshman at church, coerced into being a bible major. When I came back to church the following Sunday I found out he had tried to take his own life the night I met him. He would be sent home for treatment.
Before he left campus, he would try one more time.
Professors here use hate speech and call it “religion”; we’re included in every stock list of sins; “academics” frequently call into question our right to simply
live as we are.
We are vilified and portrayed as pedophiles, traumatized, broken, confused,
you name it.
Classes hold discussions on how to love us
(as if it were different from loving any other person in the world).
Boys use us as a punchline.
Do you know what this does to people? I do.
I’ve known queer women here struggling with self-harm, queer young men on Grindr flirting with danger down the road in Bald Knob.
A majority of us struggle with mental health.
Half of us transfer out after a semester or two.
This isn’t everyone--some queer people come here and do alright.
But every single one of us is burdened with the hostility on campus.
My junior year I took charge of Outsiders, a formerly underground, informal support group. And I took on the responsibility of caring for these people:
hurting, desperate to leave, hurting themselves.
We propped each other up and for two years I
was the 20-year old undergraduate social work student at the helm.
That same year I published an article in the newspaper, calling Harding out for its discrimination. It got a fair amount of attention.
Bruce wrote me a letter, also published in the newspaper.
Do you know what changed? Nothing.
I can’t help but think of what this institution could do do if they merely redirected their energy. When a student is found out to be queer they send them to a “non-mandatory bible study.”
Because conversion therapy is no longer legal.
The only resource for queer folks in town is Outsiders and it seems like Harding is okay with that. They’re okay with the blind--a student with no counseling experience, more interested in public policy than therapy--leading the blind.
Most days I feel like a child playing at counseling.
So where are the adults?
For the most part, they are silent.
But what if this institution chose to support the hurting, bleeding people--not for their sexuality but for their humanity, out of love?
One might call that Christianity.