Faith on Campus
Coming Home an Adult
In response, for instance, to the Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Alliance's awareness day, I wrote a letter to the editor of the campus' newspaper, The Wooster Voice, to attack their request that the campus community wear denim in a show of support for their "cause" -- whatever that might be. I argued that it was disingenuous for them to choose denim, the most popular fabric in the Western world, as a way to inflate the number of those whom they counted "supporters," without warning the campus ahead of time that those who wore denim might be supporting their "sinful lifestyle" unawares. I closed my letter by saying, "Please excuse me, I have to go iron my khakis."
The campus-wide backlash to my published letter was immediate. Angry students stopped to berate me on the campus sidewalks. When I arrived at Wooster Chorus rehearsal, the unbridled fury of my fellow choristers was so palpable, I excused myself from rehearsal early and fled. Letters of response appeared in the next issue of the Voice.
I stuck to my guns, thinking that I was speaking with a prophetic voice in a godless place, until I received a phone call from a close friend of mine. We were both Music Education majors, and because we shared nearly identical academic schedules, we had become good friends. "Matt, a lot of people are angry with you."
"You noticed that, did you? Let them be angry," I postured. "I just told them the truth as I see it."
"They only want to be regarded as human beings and afforded equal rights."
"Did they have to be so underhanded in the way they sought support? I wore jeans that day, because I didn't know what they ‘meant,' and had to go back and change my pants, because I can't support what they do. I was raised to believe that their lifestyle is sinful."
"Matt, I'm gay. Your letter was really offensive to me and to some other gay people you're also friends with. I never would have expected this from you. You've always been a decent, respectful guy. Are you telling me that we can't be friends because I'm gay?"
My mind reeled. I had no idea. "Of course I'm not saying that. I value your friendship and think you're a great person."
I became aware, then, that God was trying to speak to me. I met with the director of the Wooster Chorus, Professor Jack Russell (yes, I know), to speak with him in confidence about what I was experiencing, and to explain why I had fled rehearsal. He recommended to me a brand new book to which I had already been drawn in the campus bookstore, but hadn't purchased because of the cover price. Without thought to the cost, I purchased the book and began to read it in earnest. It was The Good Book: Reading the Bible With Mind and Heart by Rev. Peter J. Gomes, a professor at Harvard University and the minister at its Memorial Church. I knew there was a chapter in there somewhere about homosexuality, and I thought this Harvard professor could help me sort some things out. Working my way through the book, it was obvious that this great minister, author and theologian had deep wisdom, and I devoured every word. I was impressed with the way he dismantled biblical justifications for discrimination while maintaining a reverence for the Word itself. Then, on page 164, Dr. Gomes revealed to me his own homosexuality, saying, "As the university's pastor and preacher, as a Christian, and as a homosexual, I decided to reclaim by proclaiming a vision of the gospel that was inclusive rather than exclusive, and to do so as a Christian who was more than the sum of the parts of which I was made."