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My own evolution on Gay Rights

Updated on May 13, 2012

College Education

Gay Rights are Civil Rights

There has been a lot of talk about gay rights lately. President Obama just stated that he supported gay marriage and Mitt Romney just flopped on his position again. It seems that everyone is evolving in his or her beliefs about the subject. I saw something this morning that made me think about my college days. I went to school at Lamar University in Beaumont, TX, about thirty miles from the Louisiana border. I went to Lamar University and during a time of spiritual searching, I joined what was then called the Baptist Student Union (BSU). In my senior year, I was elected president of the organization, which was well over 90% white.

I have never been one who sees race or have felt bad about who I am, but in the mid-1980s, I did not date much because my friends consisted, mostly, of Caucasian females. This sort of made me lightning rod for BSU’s counter culture. I quickly found out that there was a large gay and lesbian population that was hiding their identities from our more devout classmates. I found this out because they came to me for advice on how to deal with being a social outcast. They knew that, although I was president, I could not fully participate in the social life of those around me because of the social and racial mores of the day.

Biola University in Los Angeles is one of the most conservative schools in the country. The article I read today was about an underground movement to start a LGBT club on campus. I started laughing because I understood exactly what the students were going through. I have seen it before.

I remember the guilt of some of my classmates as they confessed their sexuality to me in the old prayer room of the BSU. One girl shocked me. She came up to me to apologize for her sins because she “knew that I was the one who had discovered her." Now to me, it was obvious that this young lady struggled with her sexual identity. I knew her very well. Her “boyfriend” gave me rides to and from church and he always struggled with her identity and her friends.

She invited me into the prayer room and asked me had I been to a gay bar the night before. I found the question unusual since it would be another 5 years before I would enter any bar, let alone a gay bar. She confessed her sin to me and said emphatically that God had shown her that I put the flier on her car. That was even more interesting to me because it made me wonder if God was a liar. I had been nowhere near the bar or her car the night before. However, she was dying to confess to me and I allowed her to continue.

At the end of her spiel, I calmly informed her that it wasn’t me. Her embarrassment was palatable. I went on to tell her that as a straight guy, I had issues with my own desires and certainly had no desire to judge her for hers. This conversation opened a floodgate.

I would eventually hear from at least a dozen more students who were struggling with sexual identity issues. Some of them had opposite sex partners. Others had just begun to experiment and hated themselves. Some of these people were butch women and effeminate men, but others were a complete shock to me. However, their confessions paled, in relation to the ones I heard from straight students who were engaging in sex.

After I moved to Los Angeles, I came back to the BSU to celebrate one of my best friend’s birthdays. By this time, I had moved in with my girlfriend and we were in a happy relationship. After my friend and I performed at the luncheon, I was called into the director’s office to talk to he and a student coordinator. They grilled me about my relationship with God and my girlfriend. By this time, I have to admit, I was contemptuous of the hypocrisy and I answered their questions with a query of my own.

“I will tell you about my relationships and what I am doing if you can tell me how many students in this Student Union are homosexuals and if you can tell me how may straight couples are having sex.” I went on to tell them that I knew because they confessed to me. That effectively ended the conversation.

Gays are apart of every society on the planet. It shamed me then that they had to hide that identity and almost 30 years later, it appalls me that it still happens. It reminded me of what it felt like to be ostracized because of the color of my skin. Empathy was born during those days. I applaud the student’s at Biola for their stand. Coming out will mean some of them will get expelled, but as I have said before “Gay rights are Civil rights.” I was taught that in the most unusual way and I believe that I am more human for it.


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    • jeanihess profile image

      jeanihess 5 years ago from Cape Town South Africa

      We fought a hard battle for constitutional Human Rights and 18 yrs later it is still not over!