GayTaylor

LGBT Alumni & Allies of Taylor University

Month: October, 2013

The glory gridlock that once was Rome

As part of a continuing education program offered by a local university, I’ve been attending a series of video classes on “Famous Romans” recorded several years ago by the late Professor of History Rufus Fears, PhD. He’s been walking us through the years leading up to the first century, the final moments when Rome still operated as a free republic, before it became a dictatorship. It’s been chilling to hear described some of the sweeping problems Rome was facing, problems that contributed to their losing their freedom:

(1) the demise of the small farmer and the rise of agri-business;

(2) elections were openly bought and sold—campaign contributions swayed the elections regularly; and

(3) the Roman people had lost faith in the ability of the Senate and their elected officials because those worthies experienced such gridlock they could not solve even simple problems.

It sounds way too familiar.

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Oh, and by the way, I haven’t heard the good professor once cite homosexuality as the reason for Rome’s decline and fall. But the preachers I sometimes hear on late-night radio programs have got that territory covered. There was a time when that notion was trumpeted in almost every fund-raising letter I received from a certain family-focused Religious Right organization.

The initials SPQR stood for Senātus Populusque...

The initials SPQR stood for Senātus Populusque Rōmānus (“The Senate and the People of Rome”). They were emblazoned on the banners of Roman legions. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Holy Eukonkanto!

This week National Public Radio is airing a series on the afterlife. Well, on various persons’ own conceptions of those they articulate as standard bearers for their particular religion. For me it’s rather like listening on on a conversation in Sonkajärvi, Finland as to whether the Estonian carry (while a crowd pleaser) is better strategy than holding onto a woman via the fireman’s carry or piggyback-style. I mean, it’s interesting that people can get so worked up about something like eukonkanto  and have definite opinions on the subject, but the point of it escapes me.

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I feel something similar when I wade through the arguments put forward about why God does or does not love and sanction LGBT people, and if so, which specific actions on their part are sanctioned. The matter is obviously important to some people, and I bless them in chasing what truly gives them life and energy. I hope this is it.

Yet I find myself nodding in agreement to Daniel Ladinsky’s quoting Eruch Jessawala in the current issue of The Sun: “There is just one luminous existence; there is just one sacred well from which all thoughts and acts happen, and any interaction between human beings, especially that of romance and affection and giving comfort, is holy. All action between human beings is holy.”

In this passage Daniel Ladinsky reports his teacher’s take on his own teacher Meher Baba‘s opinion regarding homosexuality.

Any interaction between human beings . . . is holy. To which I say, “amen.”

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Photo credit: Steve Jurvetson

Are you my mother?

I remember seeing pictures of a scientist who did studies on imprinting, specifically ducklings. Or was it goslings. What lodges in my mind is a person walking across a lawn trailed by a string of ducklings. The little birds had come to see the researcher as Mama, even though the absurdity of this was obvious to every other creature who viewed the photograph.

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In some ways I too am a dumb cluck. A sitting duck. A turkey. A silly goose. (Or whatever fowl pun you can come up with.) My alma mater has somehow imprinted on my psyche and I continue to carry a connection to the school long after I know better.

Why should I care if they seem unwilling to admit the existence of people like me in the world? Why should I care that they insulate and isolate themselves from the larger world and pretend their cloak of holiness keeps LGBT people from appearing on campus, emerging from the chrysalis of alumni, raising the spectre of discomfited donors?

Why should I care? Let me tell you why I should care; because human lives are at stake, because the messages trumpeted can and do wound, because the people denigrated, discounted and declared anathema are not nameless disembodied figments of the imagination, they are Taylor University alumni, current and former students, staff and faculty; they are parents, siblings and relatives of alumni and current students; they are a part of the “Taylor family,” like it or not, and as human beings (let alone potential donors) are entitled to be treated with respect and dignity, recognized and extended common courtesy.

Photo by tifotter at flickr

After all, we’re to let our light so shine, not beat others over the head with our bedlamps

I don’t know how you feel about including side B (traditional sexual ethics) folks in the conversation. I commented here as “Neo” a while back, but ever since I started blogging on Spiritual Friendship I’ve switched to my real name. I graduated from TU in 2009, and I should finish up a Ph.D. this coming May. I’m bisexual myself, and currently single. Being that I’m side B, the only marriage I am open to would be to a woman.

I noticed that Veronica mentioned Choros. I’m glad they have that now. I actually spoke there back in March.

It’s even possible that I could end up back at TU in a faculty position in the future, assuming I don’t become number six among guys I know who have been fired or denied employment at Christian institutions on account of their sexuality, despite being side B and celibate. If I do end up there, I hope I can do things to advance the conversation.

Anyway, if something happens with alumni, I’m interested to hear about it and possibly participate. Although I won’t hide what I believe, I won’t try to subvert the purpose of a group or to proselytize for my viewpoint. However, I understand completely if you’d rather have private efforts that are limited to more like-minded people.

Jeremy

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Welcome back, Jeremy. Regarding a welcome to join the conversation, I think (un)common courtesy goes a long way. Thanks for putting yourself out (ahem) there, er, here. Following up on your initial post, I ordered and a copy of Justin’s book T o r n, describing his efforts at reconciling his gay sexuality and Christian beliefs. It’s written in fervent heartfelt style. While I appreciate this, I found myself unmoved by much of what he has to say when it comes to twining his sexuality with religious beliefs. I struggled that struggle for far too long to take it up again for myself or to wish it on anyone else. I am not in the place you are; I choose to direct my energies elsewhere and to other matters.

May we each and all find and follow a path with heart.

There is wisdom in living and letting live, in not subverting or proselytizing. It’s a tough enough job to live according to one’s own lights; we needn’t complicate matters by trying to live others’ lives for them. Here or elsewhere.

There is cause to speak truth to power, stand against injustice, empower the powerless. To live and love as best we know how. To stay open to wonder and surprise.

May you find employment suited to your temperament and ways of being in the world. May you live a life of integrity, wherever that takes you. May we live so long as to see Christian institutions repent of the wrongs they perpetrate in the name of Christ and strive to make amends.

Photo by AlicePopkorn flickr.com

Take the step

Hi guys – I’m a current Taylor student, straight but really wanting to begin discussions like this with people who are genuinely open. Involvement with Choros (a group created to discus human sexuality) seems to be my next step. Love from Taylor, on my behalf, to both of you. If you have any suggestions on loving my gay friends better, or how to start these conversations, or just want to stay in touch, please do.

Veronica

toni blay flickr-com

Thank you, Veronica, for a gentle and encouraging response. You’re reaching out, I see, in wondering aloud what and how you (currently a TU student) can better love your lgbt friends (some of whom are also there on campus?). You can identify a starting point in joining the wider discussion of sexuality through the on-campus group Choros. Do take the first step, I encourage you. Often in life we’re given only a candle or a pocket flashlight, no miner’s headlamp to see far ahead down the path. We have to make do taking one step at a time, moving forward, finding purchase for our foot, first one, then the other. There will be more steps, of course, but we have to take the one in front of us first.

What’s your motivation, may I ask, in wanting to offer support to lgbt persons? The church I attended near campus was spooked of gay persons. “We don’t want no homos here,” I remember one person saying. To this, a church leader replied, “No, that’s not right. Let ’em come on in. We’ll sit ’em right down front and preach God’s truth to ’em, make ’em see the error of their ways, get ’em to repent and lead ’em to Jesus.” I’m sure I nodded and smiled my agreement. That’s what and how I once believed.

“The most difficult thing in the world is to know how to help someone,” said George MacDonald, or words to that effect. What we sincerely conceive of as helping may be the last thing a given person needs.

To love your gay friends better, look to your motives. Take a first step. Build your awareness. Educate yourself. Read a book or two or visit a website designed for straight allies. Ask questions. Have many more questions than answers. Be kind. Be true. Think critically. Love from your heart. Stretch your comfort zone. Speak up. And know you are doing valuable service in showing your support for people often marginalized in evangelical circles.

picture  by Toni Blay flickr.com

 

An alumni group for LGBT Taylor grads? Well now.

I am so glad to have found your blog. I have been searching for other lgbt Taylor alums recently…as you noted, we are hard to find. I came out as lesbian a couple years after graduating, part of a larger process of learning to ask questions and allow myself space to experience doubt. I very much relate to your thoughts. I would love to connect with you via facebook or email. I’ve been thinking about trying to start an lgbt alumni group that could support current lgbt taylor students 

Sarah

transguyjay flickr-com

Sometimes I think lgbt people speak a language known only to themselves. Sarah, you toss off so casually, “I came out a couple of years after leaving Taylor.” Perhaps it was so simple a matter for you; yet I read in the spaces between those words a whole history, imagine a tale entwined in the years at Upland, those couple of years beyond, then an unfurling, a bursting into life in a new way. Did your time at Taylor prepare you for coming out? Did it hinder you, slow your movement toward that event? What messages did you receive from the Taylor community regarding lgbt persons? Did you have an inkling you would soon or someday count yourself among them?

You say you’re interested in starting an alumni group for lgbt-alumni (and their allies, perhaps?) with the aim of offering support to current Taylor students. Do you have an idea of what that support would look like? What would you have or did you wish for along these lines while you were a student? What kind of support might an alumni group offer that would be valuable? (A few leap to my mind: Presence. Heightened awareness. Education. Advocacy. Role models.)

I imagine there’s be precious little support from the university proper for such an effort. Perhaps active resistance. Maybe I do the school’s administration a disservice to think they’d react in so stereotypical a fashion. Perhaps they’d be much more nuanced in their reaction that what I’m giving them credit for. Somehow I doubt it.

What drives your motivation to reach out, to be visible, to be heard and or felt? What systems of support do you have around you to aid you in this proposed effort? What connections can you count on?

I think it’s a worthy endeavor this one you’re contemplating. I think it has potential for offering support, connection, visibility and more.

photo courtesy transguyjay flikr.com

Conversation starter

LGBTU comments

Seems we in this little corner of the internet have already started the ball rolling, managed the first conversational opening gambits. Yay for us! Yay for people who bring care and concern and respect and heart to the table.

Sarah shows up, having come out a couple of years after graduation, notes the low profile lgbt Taylor alumni keep, expresses interest in giving voice to the quiet multitude. As a straight ally (or ally wannabe), Veronica breathes in a breath of fresh air from the campus current. And here am I. Sounds like we three could start a conversation. And maybe we already have.

Where shall we go from here?