The following post was written by Kevin Harris, Director of Community Relations at The Marin Foundation.
Yesterday, lesbian and gay students at Harding University, a Christian University in Arkansas, spoke out with a self-published zine. The zine was written anonymously by a number of students that identify as the H.U. Queer Press as they feared that revealing their identities could cause them to be “expelled or put into therapy” by their university.
As the group states that their main purpose is to share their personal stories with Harding students, faculty, and staff, the piece starts off with the following:
‘Hello to all students, faculty, administration, staff, alumni, and the beloved donors of Harding University. We are the H.U. Queer Press, and we are presenting our first ever publication. This zine is a self-published work intended to bring attention to the lives and issues of demoralized minorities.’
We at The Marin Foundation felt that it could be beneficial to share this zine as it provides an opportunity to simply listen to and learn from voices that are not always heard, that being lesbian and gay Christians while they are still enrolled at a Christian university. Their stories bring some light to the feeling of being silenced and the anger and hope that can go along with being in that state. Some snippets reveal bits of what it was like for some to discover that they were lesbian or gay, something that is often a foreign concept growing up in a Christian context:
‘I’d never thought I might be a lesbian. I heard people in church talk about the dangers of the GAY AGENDA and knew several people who were part of the boycott against Disney for their support of homosexuality, but I’d never known any gay people or seen them on TV or read about them in books. They were like those mythological creatures who ran amok in far lands causing all manner of sinful, AIDS-ridden chaos.’
Some stories are unabashedly intimate and raw and others speak to fears while calling for support.
‘If there’s anything I need right now, it’s to know that my fellow students don’t hate me. We need it. We need people who aren’t afraid to say that they’ll love us no matter what. We’re in a place that hides us behind lies (an action that we’re supposed to fight against as Christians, I think). We’re scared that our peers will abandon and shun us, scared that our college experience is going to be horrendous and miserable, scared, if for no other reason, that we’ll be forced to choose between being with someone we genuinely love and doomed to spend an eternity in hell, or choose to be with Christ, but alone and miserable for the rest of our life on earth.’
Along with the snippets of personal stories, they touch on some of their thoughts on scripture, the need for LGBT people to have supportive friends and safe spaces, and their thoughts on the ‘gay lifestyle.’
Readers of this blog that identify with a more conservative outlook on faith and homosexuality may very well disagree with some of the sentiments and ideas that are expressed in the zine, but as always we ask that you try to use it as an opportunity to listen and let it be another window into the lives of others that informs how you seek to move forward in what it looks like to live out your faith in a way that honors both God and the LGBT community.
You can read the zine in its entirety here.