LGBT Feature: Drew’s Story
In our feature, the term gay refers only to the attractions and orientations of individuals and not to their sexual activity. The writers have left out any reference to positions on moral and political questions to avoid polarizing discussion.
For those of us who are not LGBT, we hope these stories provide a glimpse into the lives of some of our brothers and sisters at Calvin. For those of us who are LGBT, we want you to see that you are not alone, and the Calvin community cares deeply about you.
Many of the students who are LGBT have not experienced a supporting, caring community at Calvin, but after we hear stories and place a face on an issue, we may still take our differing positions, but we will refuse to do battle. Join us as we listen attentively, respond thoughtfully and love graciously.
A fifth-year senior from Hillsdale, Mich., Drew E. is the lead student manager at Knollcrest Dining Hall. With his Japanese major and English as a second language minor, he plans to to teach English in Japan after graduating.
Chimes is withholding Drew’s full last name online because of future career considerations.
Before I came to Calvin, only a handful of people from my small, rural town knew that I “kind of had feelings for guys.”
After Quest, I was determined to go through what I now call “going back in the closet.” There was no way that I was going to be an out gay person at a Christian school, even though I was a Christian too.
I had grown up in public schools where being gay wasn’t the end-all, be-all of a person’s character or quality. I was afraid that at this Christian school I would be kicked out or sent to an ex-gay ministry if I revealed this part of my identity.
As a frightened, wide-eyed freshman of 18, I worked hard at skirting under the gaydar (gay radar) of most students. By my junior year I had come out to my family and close friends, but still shied away from being publicly out at school. That year I decided to take a semester to Japan where I was no longer with Christians 24/7, the people that I feared most with my sexuality.
In Japan, I was with people who didn’t give a second thought to my sexuality, and I felt freed. For the first time I was comfortable in my own skin, something my Christian classmates and professors did not offer me.
When I returned to Calvin the next semester, I was a new person. I was less afraid of what other Christians might think of me. I had experienced a life free of the fear of constant judgment.
I did not want to lose what I experienced, so I decided to work towards conquering my fears about being gay at a Christian school. I turned to education as my means of fighting my fears.
I became a regular attendee and eventually a leadership member of SAGA (Sexuality and Gender Awareness), came out to my coworkers, took courses that expanded my view on theology and sexuality and then jumped off into the deep end: I spoke at the 2012 LGBT Panel.
However, the fears I worked so hard towards eliminating began to slowly creep back. Even though I had the support of some faculty and staff, along with vice president for student life Shirley Hoogstra, I was still afraid of exposing myself to an entire crowd of unfamiliar people who would no longer look at me as just Drew, but as Drew: the gay kid.
I was afraid of being harassed, looked down upon, and worst of all, feeling again like I was singled out for my sexuality. As I spoke on stage that night, something inside me clicked. I didn’t feel fear; I felt empowerment to fight my fears and to hopefully help fight for other LGBT students as well.
I began to not fear Christians like I once did. I was able to call them my brothers and sisters again. I was not afraid to say yes to the “Are you gay?” question and I was not afraid to stand up for other LGBT students around me.
I recognize that my view of the campus has also changed over time — no longer being completely blinded by irrational fears, but still acknowledging some of the very real ones.
Over time Calvin’s campus has changed from the days of my freshman year to a campus with more open ears and hearts — a step in the right direction. I am truly thankful for this.