Listen First: Introduction to LGBT Feature
Almost two months ago, our editor in chief Ryan Struyk approached us with what seemed a simple idea: publish a feature that shares the stories of students who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) here at Calvin.
We were hesitant at first. So often discussion surrounding sexuality turns to shoving matches between sides. But as we developed the idea, we think that this feature is exactly what the Calvin community needs.
People on all sides of the topic are often polarized by agendas and hasty assumptions. Amidst the debate, we forget that we are talking about real students and leaders on campus. And with this in mind, what we need to do first is listen.
Many of the students who are LGBT have not experienced a supporting, caring community at Calvin.
A 2011 Calvin Sexuality Series poll found that 4 percent of Calvin students self-identified as LGBT. Of this 4 percent, almost half had told nobody at Calvin. That means, on average, about one person on each dorm floor is keeping a tough secret.
That fact alone motivated us to publish these stories.
And to avoid more polarizing discussion, the writers have left out any reference to positions on moral and political questions. We do not want to continue to discuss in a way that causes us to forget to listen before speaking, or blurs our vision of Christ as the source of absolute truth and love. We hope the stories might stop abstract conversations and shatter false stereotypes.
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 do identify as LGBT, we want you to see that you are not alone, and the Calvin community cares deeply about you.
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.
We encourage you to add your voice to our conversation by sending a letter to the editor to firstname.lastname@example.org.
In our feature, we define being gay as being attracted to the same gender. While some circles use the word gay to mean that the person is sexually active, the term in our feature refers only to the attractions and orientations of individuals and not to their sexual activity.
Being gay — that is, being attracted to the same gender — is not a choice. This has been affirmed by the Christian Reformed Church since 1973.
We define being transgender as having a gender identity that does not match the person’s biological sex.
“Before I came to Calvin, only a handful of people from my small, rural town knew that I ‘kind of had feelings for guys…’ (keep reading)
“It wasn’t until my senior year at Calvin that I fully accepted that I was gay. Trust me, I tried my hardest to avoid that realization…” (keep reading)
“During the spring of my freshman year, I was eating lunch with a table full of friends and somehow the conversation turned to, ‘What if someone at Calvin is gay?…’” (keep reading)
“I’ll start out by saying that writing this article has shown me how unsafe I feel as someone who is bisexual. With every word I write, I fear that this could be a problem for my future job prospects or even for my boyfriend’s job prospects… (keep reading)”
“Last summer, I walked into Pastor Mary’s office and forced out the deepest, darkest secret this CRC pastor’s kid had to offer: I’m gay. I never thought I would say those words out loud…” (keep reading)
“Of everything that has happened in my life, I can think of one thing that has brought me more happiness and yet also more sorrow, tears and angry nights than anything else: my sexuality. I first realized that I was bisexual in sixth grade…” (keep reading)
“When I was little, two of my best friends were in Boy Scouts. They told me stories about all the adventures they got into. It sounded like heaven to me. Yet when I asked my parents if I could join, they put me in Girl Scouts…” (keep reading)
“I’m a gay student at Calvin, and fear of losing what I love the most is why I’m choosing to remain anonymous…” (keep reading)