the equality ride made its way to my alma mater, acu, on monday.
i was nervous about it, considering the ways in which the love of
christ was offered to the riders by way of police, barricades, and
trespassing arrests at several of the other universities they tried.
and my stomach clenched when i heard students cheering and
clapping when acu president royce money announced in chapel
the possibility of meeting the equality riders with a similar blue-
uniformed reception - a possibility he quickly discounted, noting
that they had chosen instead to treat them with dignity and respect.
in all, as you can hear in the full chapel speech, as posted by my
friend matt on his blog, i think that dr. money handled announcing
this rather well. i'm so glad that the administration chose to receive
the equality riders respectfully and peacefully.
i'm grateful that he specifically addressed that people who might
have strong negative feelings should probably steer clear, saying
that there was not to be any "acting out" against the riders in any
of course, as noted by pendulous, by the time we knew to worry
about it on monday, it was already happening. and, although the
riders themselves have yet to blog about the experience, the acu
website has an article on their front page which indicates that the
conversations and visit went smoothly, lovingly, and peaceably.
i am anxious to hear from the perspective of the riders, and matt
is hoping to get some of them to guest post on his blog.
my senior year at acu, i spoke at chapel. i had been awakened to
the existence of the mostly-underground gay community, and i
was disturbed by how often i saw students mocking gay people -
not specific gay students, but in general showing an insensitivity,
and such an obliviousness to the possibility that there were people
all around them dealing with quandaries over attraction and identity
that they didn't feel that they could talk about with anyone.
of course, i was oblivious at one point as well, but there just can't
be any place for ridicule if we're calling ourselves followers of Jesus
in any real way. and the marginalized have always been close to
the heart of God, certainly.
so i spoke about it. and as far as i'm aware, with the exception of
one chapel speaker who gave a remembrance of her brother who
was an acu alum and had died of aids, no one had ever publicly
broached the topic of the gay community on campus, or of the
students who were even disconnected from that fringe community
by the isolating fear of their own feelings and desires as well as
fear of condemnation and persecution.
looking back on it now, there are certainly more things i wish i
could have said, but perhaps the main point was simply that
it was being spoken of at all. because it offered the opportunity
to be come more aware.
i remember afterwards, another student approached me. he was,
for lack of a better term, a college good ol' boy, or what passed
for one back then - stained baseball cap, polo shirt, faux-faded
jeans. he was red-eyed, like he'd been crying a little bit, and he
told me, that he wasn't going to make fun of gay people anymore.
i don't know why what i said affected him, but it did, and it gave
me a little hope that someone who i associated with the social
club scene i had perceived to be so homophobic in their actions
had seemed to have had an awakening of heartfelt conviction.
it's to my own chagrin that i realize how prejudiced i had been
in my mind against him when he first approached me, just from
his appearance. it cuts both ways, doesn't it?
so all this to say, i'm so glad that the discussion, the dialogue,
the mystic interchange of energies that keeps us from becoming
stagnant in our beliefs, ideologies, and lives was furthered by
this visit. that hopefully each side found one another to be more
human, more broken and whole than they had expected, and
that Jesus was present in his love, in his peace, in his brokenness.
and as long as i am on the subject, here are two articles, one
impassioned and one reasoned by a pastor from my hometown
that have been very challenging and moving to me. perhaps they
will be to you as well. may we all fall down, and all grow up.