LGBTU: School for life
Taylor University, located in podunk Upland, Indiana, is an evangelical liberal arts college with a national reputation in its circle of influence, often playing second fiddle to Illinois’ Wheaton College with regards to academics and influence among those who espouse a Christian worldview.
It’s noted for a high rate of student retention, isolated location among the cornfields, close-knit sense of community among students, holier-than-thou posturing, student engagement in outreach activities, and list of verboten activities (smoking, drinking, dancing, gambling, sexual activity, and “homosexual behavior,” among others).
It’s also my alma mater.
As does the mater who birthed me, my alma mater greets me with a come close-stay away mix of messages. In this way it serves as representative of the many religious currents in my life: against its screen I see played out the reactions of family, church, institutionalized religion to me as a gay man. In examining my reactions to the college, I discover my attitudes and reactions to my larger world.
If I were looking for an lifelong, intensive, immersive educational experience, one that would challenge me in ways beyond imagining, push me to my limits and beyond, then teach me new limits and push me past them . . .
If I wanted an educational experience that would expand my heart and my thinking, school me in compassion and understanding, deepen my spirituality, inform my everyday walk through the world, plumb depths of sorrow and despair, then fill the empty reservoir with laughter and joy . . .
If I wanted all this and more, I can think of no possible better scenario than for me to be born male and a lover of men, female and a lover of women, bisexual and a lover of all genders, or trans and a wonder even unto myself. Add to this being born in a culture and society that regards my existence as an affront to human nature and dignity, then stir into the mix being raised in a conservative evangelical Christian fundamentalist milieu.
Talk about an education.
Life is a learning experience. Approached this way with intention and awareness, with energy and grace, with an openness to learn . . . well, it becomes an adventure all its own. Ups, downs, love, loss, dark, light, the union of opposites, the pearl of great price, the never-ending story. That we all should be so lucky to be enrolled in this free public university. And show up to class. And learn as much as we can.