A letter from an alumni of Lee University

I am so glad to have found that you are riding to Lee University in Cleveland Tennessee. This was my first undergraduate college. I was kicked out after 3 and 1/2 years of full time study for being gay. I was a senior and was very active in their Choirs as a soloist and in their main recruiting/ministering drama team, "The Kingdom Players." After a sexual encounter with a man over thanksgiving break I confessed my "sin" to Dr. Carbaugh(Drama Professor and director of Kingdom Players). She sent me to the campus counsellor and kicked me off of the drama team(revoking my scholorship). Also unbeknownst to me she called the dean to tell him what I had done. I finished the semester with no other discilpineary action, thinking I was fine because I confessed and was trying to be healed of my homosexuality like they wanted me to. After my final exam before Christmas break I found a message from the dean calling me to his office. He kicked me out of Lee University. He said that if I could successfuly complete an Exodus International program and get a letter from my home churches pastor confirming that I was actually healed of this abomination I could return. I had only one full semester and one partial summer session until graduation. My parents and church pastor were called (without my permission) and told that I was a homosexual and had been expelled from school for it. I was put in a "healing" program called "Living Waters" in Charleston SC (my hometown), but in the course of my study there I found peace with myself and God about being gay, not to mention discovering the church’s lies about the Bible condeming me. I found God’s love inside myself and also found the strength to leave the program and tell my family who I was and that I was not going to change. I now know that I am gay, I am a christian. and that is ok. I did finish school by transfering eventually to New York University and after 2 and 1/2 years there finally got my degree (4 years after I should have and with more debt that I originally would have). I am now with the man of my dreams and we have been together 5 years. I am a working actor (my field of study) and am happier that I ever was before. I still have problems in life, just like every other person, but I know my God is there to help me through the rough times. Thank you for listening and thank you for making a difference with this ride across the nation!

Matthew Guyon Myers

Why the Hatred?

February 2001
Being ‘gay’ is not a choice
Miles Christian Daniels

I’m not unlike most college seniors. With almost four years of higher education behind me, I’ve often wondered how what I’ve learned would prepare me for the real world. Around this same time last semester, I began to find out.

A documentary film class – not exactly something I was interested in – was offered as part of my creative writing degree, so I took it. Hey, three hours of watching films? Could be worse. All I wanted was an A, not a life-changing experience.

I was sailing through the semester when one of the series, "Eyes on the Prize," was screened. Suddenly – and unwillingly – I was transported from a comfortable UNC-Wilmington classroom to the teeming streets of Selma. I sat transfixed as white police officers brutally beat silent, black protesters because they had the audacity to want to vote. The violence was ugly enough, but when a white police officer spit in the face of a young black man, I couldn’t hold back the tears. Spit in his face. Embarrassed, I put my hand to my own face. I didn’t want the class to see my reaction.

The scene had been shot some thirty years before, but I still felt helpless, like there was something I should be doing to help alleviate the boy’s pain.

Little did I know that soon after watching this horrifying, humiliating moment on film that documentary film would become documentary reality.

I had just finished a night of dancing at a local gay-friendly bar here in Wilmington. I felt good, like I had finally found my niche through people who accepted me for what I am. After twenty-three years of lies and deceit, I had recently learned to accept myself.

See I’m from Wanchese – a small fishing village on North Carolina’s Outer Banks. There, most men have never attended college and pride themselves in both hard, manual labor and establishing traditional families. The son of a seafood business owner, with three brothers who work in the seafood industry, gay wasn’t what I was supposed to be – but I was.

I walked out to get a cab on Front Street. A man – standing on the curb – asked if he could share the fare. On the ride to his house, he asked if I was gay. I wondered why he was asking, but I had just come out and had nothing to hide. "Yes," I said. Proud I could be honest.

The driver pulled over to let him out. The man opened his door, then wheeled around and punched me in the face. I covered my face. Frustrated he couldn’t hit me again, he spit on me. "You faggot. You flaming queer. Go to hell," he screamed.

He slammed the door and – for good measure – spit once more through the open window. I wanted to scream back, "I can’t help being gay. It’s not my choice." But instead what strangely came to mind was that black boy in Selma. As I couldn’t help being gay, he couldn’t help being black. He was hated, not for something he did, but who he was. I knew I wasn’t the only one.

As I look back over the semester, I realize the pain and injustice this boy suffered in a way prepared me for that night. I wish people could see beyond skin color, ethnic background, mental acuity, social status and religious or sexual preference. These are not things any of us do. Plus, it’s not all of who we are.

I’m a writer, a blues pianist, a surfer, a son, a brother, a Carolina Tar Heels basketball fan, a person who does not define myself completely through sexual orientation. Being part of a certain minority is not my choice. It’s just who I am.

Miles Christian Daniels is a senior at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. Write him at P.O. Box 28006, Wilmington, NC 28407, or by e-mail at mcd5024@uncwil.edu.

Letter from a current student at BYU

Thoughts on BYU and Students That Struggle With SGA

As a student here at BYU I do not feel at a disadvantage in any way for having feelings of SGA. My Priesthood leaders back home know of my struggle and so do my Priesthood leaders here at BYU. Both are aware that I have succumbed to temptation and acted on these feelings in the past (even while attending BYU). None of my Priesthood leaders have ever told me I am not welcome at this university. They see me for who I am, a child of God, who struggles with the shortcomings of mortality. They are full of Christ-like love and are there to help me get back up when I fall.

Some feel that there is a great intolerance for those that struggle with SGA here at BYU. This may be partially true, but not entirely so. I think it would be fair to say that a very high percentage of students and faculty (and possibly some Priesthood leaders) here don’t understand and/or are not willing to understand those who struggle with feelings of homosexuality.** No doubt, strong stereotypes and prejudices do exist at BYU about homosexuals and this is a problem that must be fixed. But on the other side of the coin, it would also be fair to say that there are a lot of people here (including students, staff and basically all Priesthood leaders) who love all of God’s children regardless of their imperfections. It is unfair to lump BYU entirely in one camp or the other.

The greatest debate surrounding the issue of homosexuality within this church and university is not a matter of whether those who struggle with SGA are accepted or not, but rather a battle between perceptions and desires (think about it). With this realization, we should earnestly pray for the spiritual gift to "see things as they really are". Some BYU students (past and present) with SGA may perceive this university as intolerant, oppressive and discriminate. Is this really so? I believe our ability to reason is not above our experiences in life. Those who would answer yes to the above question most likely had a bad experience with an individual or group of individuals here at BYU be they students, staff or priesthood leaders, which negatively shaped their perception. Needless to say, everyone here at BYU is imperfect (And for this very reason, the Honor Code is misused and misunderstood in a multiple of ways). But the opposite can be said of those SGA students who have had positive experiences with other students, staff and Priesthood leaders. They likely will not view the university as oppressive or discriminatory. It is important that we view our experiences as just that, experiences, and not let them develop into an all-encompassing perception of how we think things "really are."

One who struggles with SGA must also examine his or her perception of homosexuality and self-acceptance. Some may dismiss the morality of the issue by saying, "this is the way I was born, this is the way God made me so I accept myself and am justified in acting on these feelings" while others may say "this is a trial that God gave me. I don’t understand why, but I will use this opportunity to show my devotion to God by refraining from acting on the desires of my natural man. I accept myself as a child of God, who is subject to the weakness of mortality, but not void of aid from His atonement". Which of these two persons will view BYU as oppressive or discriminatory? It would most likely the first individual, because BYU does not accept their perception. Does that make BYU intolerant or even discriminatory?

Closely related to perception is desire. And often times our desires become our actions. Although I am not an official spokesman for BYU (or even on homosexuality for that matter), I’m certain students here who struggle with SGA can rest assured that if their desire (or heart) is in the right place, there is nothing to fear, regardless of whether they have acted on these feelings in the past or not. BYU is not out to "get you" and to my knowledge there are no secret police. Our priesthood leaders are here to help us on our journey to eternal life, not to run us off campus with sword in hand. Regardless of individual mistakes we should not fear talking with our Priesthood leaders. If our desires are right, our actions will be also, even though we may mess up along the way.

Those that have the desire to follow after the natural man through godless reasoning and intellect will likely develop a perception that BYU is oppressive and hateful of those who have SGA and that the school is "out to get them". Their actions will likely (but not always) become such that they will leave BYU and possibly fight against it, or they will live secret double lives where they engage in homosexual behavior, while at the same time appear to be doing what is right to those around them. Others will walk in different ungodly paths.

Again, discrimination of homosexuals isn’t the real issue here, but rather, perception and desire. What perception of BYU and homosexuality is right? To answer that, we must look deep within ourselves, examining our own perceptions and desires and ask ourselves as well as honestly answer, am I doing what I’m doing to serve my pride? Or am I striving to serve my Master, the lover of my soul?

**For this reason the author has withheld his name

2010 Equality Rider: Jess Kalup

Jess

Name: Jess Kalup
Hometown: Philadelphia, PA
Age: 25

Statement:
TBA

 

 

Sponsors:
Jess has been sponsored a total amount of $.

Name Location Amount
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     

2006 Equality Rider: Jarrett Lucas

Name: Jarrett Lucas
Hometown: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Age: 20

Statement:
No one’s academic freedom should be abrogated due to their sexual orientation or gender identity. Instead of letting my silence perpetuate injustice, I’ve chosen to contribute to efforts to end inequality. The Soulforce Equality Ride is an unmistakably bold way to make the voice of the entire LGBTQ community heard. I feel extremely privileged to serve as an emissary for the numerous progressive thinkers who truly understand the meaning of liberty. And I am certain that this incredible journey will incite unprecedented change in present and future generations.

Sponsors:
Jarrett has been sponsored a total amount of $2570.00.

Name Location Amount
Jessica Levin Edison, NJ $10.00
Cherie Lipscomb Lamott, PA $50.00
Mary Hood Philadelphia, PA $50.00
Adam Diaz Mulberry, Fl $15.00
Wanda Lucas Covington, GA $25.00
Colleen Bynum Lamott, PA $10.00
Tim Hamilton Berkeley, CA $50.00
Anonymous Donor   $50.00
Terell Richardson Baldwin, NY $25.00
Dave Everett Portland, OR $50.00
Eric Kristensen & Geoff Reid Ottawa, ON $50.00
Nick Taylor SPANISH FORK, UT $50.00
jody mattox jacksonville, florida $100.00
Chuck Phelan Los Angeles, CA $100.00
Suzanne Stultz St Paul, Minnesota $500.00
Gordon McCoy Chicago, IL $50.00
St Johns Episcopal Church, Huntingdon Valley PA Bedminster, PA $250.00
Rick Kappra San Francisco, CA $50.00
donald routhier Somersworth, New Hampshire $100.00
Paul Rumsey St. Louis Park, MN $100.00
e. richard brown Marina, CA $250.00
Lorna Cohen Laguna Beach, CA $250.00
Christina Allan Sacramento, California $25.00
Anonymous Donor   $10.00
PFLAG, Hartford CT chapter Glastonbury, CT $75.00
Carl M. Cliver Studio City, California $75.00
Shariah Dixon-Turner New Castle, DE $100.00
Mimi Dixon Philadelphia, PA $50.00
Carrie and Ernest Philadelphia, PA $50.00

A letter from a current student at Lee University

I guess I am one of those students at Lee Univeristy. I can’t tell anyone b/c I was brought up in the church. They all say that I am going to hell. So as I struggle through my sophomore year on campus, I see what you mean, how it’s not excepted. I can’t help how I feel inside, but I have to hide it. My parents and pastor, and other christian friends just wouldn’t get it. Thanks for trying to let people know that we are just like them and we have a right to be on the same campus, God loves us all!

No More Strangers at the Gate

May 2000

My Soulforce Experience at the United Methodist General Conference

On May 10, 2000, I was arrested in Cleveland because of my sexual orientation.

My heart’s desire is to be with someone I love deeply, who supports and loves me unconditionally, and with whom I choose to grow, create, and contribute to the uses and purposes of life in true partnership.

By God’s good grace I am blessed with such a partner. Our partnership is embraced by our families, our marriage is celebrated by our church, and our commitments to the world are held legal under the structures that govern our lives.

Until all God’s children can grow, create, and contribute under these same conditions, I cannot rest.

Over forty years ago, a young African-American Methodist minister from Ohio who had studied the principles of Gandhi in India was introduced to a young African-American Baptist minister from the South. The Rev. Jim Lawson taught the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., about the spirit, principles, techniques, and goals of Gandhi’s Satyagraha–"Truthforce," or "Soulforce." Always the goal is reconciliation. Always the adversary is treated with respect. Always the practitioners of Soulforce voluntarily accept suffering rather than inflict suffering on others. They never fight violence with violence. They are absolutely relentless in their pursuit of truth.

On May 9, 2000, in Cleveland, Ohio, outside the 2000 General Conference of the United Methodist Church, that same Methodist minister taught the same principles, techniques, and goals to participants in Soulforce,** a new ecumenical movement organized two years ago by the Rev. Mel White to end the oppression of sexual minorities.

The single greatest source of that oppression is the Christian churches. Creeds based on a great untruth (just as the churches once used such scriptures as Nehemiah 13.1-3 to justify slavery and segregation) are being used to kill our children or cause them to kill themselves. Half those convicted of murdering a gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgendered person say they did so to fulfill the will of God. Where did they learn that? From their Christian churches and their Christian brothers and sisters.

But not all Christian churches, brothers, or sisters. My brother John Edward Ford was formed in St. John’s United Methodist Church, loved it all his life, was nurtured by its teachers and pastors as a gay man, and chose to plan his memorial service within its holy space. How dare the governing structures of my denomination proclaim my brother’s life "incompatible with Christian doctrine"? How dare they?

Among the 191 people arrested was the Reverend Jimmy Creech. I mean Jimmy Creech. Last summer the orders of this dear man of God were removed by the legal structures of the United Methodist Church– only the third time in our history this has happened–because he dared bless the lives of two faithful and loving parishioners in holy union. Arrested with him was the Reverend Gregory Dell, currently under suspension by the United Methodist Church for the same offense. These two good men, friends and allies since their student days at Duke Divinity School, choose to walk calmly toward their arrest through screamed obscenities hand-in-hand.

I cannot fail to mention the holy hilarity that abounded throughout our days together. I used to think that humor is the secular form of grace. I now believe that humor is grace. A tee- shirt among us read: "God favors no group. Only religions do that." I at least smiled when one of my new friends concluded: "The United Methodist Book of Discipline is neither unchanging, unchangeable, or inspired by God." The Rev. Phil Lawson, the cherubic younger brother of Jim Lawson and also a reconciling United Methodist minister, said to us: "When I was born, my father put me in the lap of my oldest brother and told Jim to take care of me. I’ve had a drug problem ever since: He drug me here, and he drug me there." They are quite a team. When I was being booked, the young police officer asked me what I teach. "Latin and Greek," I said. "Oh, I’ve always wanted to learn Latin," he said. "Okay, Matt, let’s start right now: amo, amas, amat." We both laughed happily.

Before our arrest, a gentle Indian named Arun Gandhi said to us, "Grandfather used to insist that there are no enemies. The British are not our enemies. They are our friends and we need to change their attitudes."

Rev. Jim Lawson told us to make it church, to see civil disobedience as an act of prayer, practicing the presence of God. He said, "We are expressing our love for this nation. We are offering religion in this country a new day. This is an historic moment. This has never happened to the United Methodist Church before in my lifetime. Go forth with humility and confidence."

Gandhi never professed a principle that he did not himself embody, literally with the presence of his physical body. Neither did Martin Luther King, Jr. The first person I saw in the men’s holding tank when the jail door clanged shut behind us was Jim Lawson. Standing next to him was Arun Gandhi, grandson of Mahatma Gandhi.

I know I experienced in Cleveland the immense power of an embodied idea. I believe I experienced the presence of Jesus on the exit ramp outside the General Conference of the United Methodist Church and in the cells of the Cleveland City Jail.

Susan F. Wiltshire
Vanderbilt University
Email: susan.f.wiltshire@vanderbilt.edu

Equality Ride Resources

At each stop along the route, the Equality Riders will present a powerful case for schools and students to accept their fellow gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender classmates. Some of the resources that will be used can be accessed online.

Books and Printed Materials

Cover of What The Bible Says

What the Bible Says – And Doesn’t Say – About Homosexuality

Written by Rev. Dr. Mel White, co-founder of Soulforce, this booklet offers a Biblical response to the question people often ask… "How can you consider yourself a Christian when you are also gay?"

Those Who Lived the Struggle to End Segregation Now Speak Out for Same-Gender Marriage Equality

Quotes from leaders of the Civil Rights Movement of the 50’s and 60’s on GLBT equality.

 

Videos

Lewis Smedes video There’s A Wideness in God’s Mercy: Video Interview with Dr. Lewis Smedes on Romans 1 (29 minutes)
The Debate is Over video Homosexuality: The Debate is Over. The Verdict is In. Not a Sickness! Not a Sin! (50 minutes)

2010 Equality Rider: Jennifer Luu

Jennifer

Name: Jennifer Luu
Hometown: Alexandria, VA
Age: 27

Statement:

A long time ago, before I knew what was happening, a seed was planted in my head that told me I was unlovable.  Deep down inside I always believed it, and it colored the way I lived my life, who I attracted into my life… everything. 

I have lived in Virginia since I was born.  Prior to 2006, Virginia state law banned same-sex unions.  In 2006, voters in Virginia voted for a constitutional amendment that defined marriage as solely between one man and one woman and banned recognition of any legal status "approximat[ing] the design, qualities, significance, or effects of marriage."  It was truly the last nail in the coffin for gay marriage rights in Virginia.  And it devastated me.  For the first time in my life, I felt an intense sorrow and mourning for my second-class rights that in this case, the citizens of my own home state had voted away.  That Election night, my mother told me that my sister had once said to her that I could change from being a lesbian if I wanted to.  My mother then said to me, “I hope you can change.”  This was too much.  I got off the phone with my mother and sobbed my eyes out.  In between breaths, I was able to hear the song that happened to be playing in my room at the time—a song called “Some Day You Will Be Loved.”  

Everyone—everyone deserves to be loved, first and foremost by his or herself.  How freakin’ lucky am I to get to go on tour on a bus that spreads that message across the country?   

 

 

Sponsors:
Jennifer has been sponsored a total amount of $.

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The 2006 Equality Ride Route

Stop Date School Location
1 March 10 Liberty University Lynchburg, VA
2 March 13-14 Regent University Virginia Beach, VA
3 March 16-17 Lee University Cleveland, TN
4 March 18 Union University Jackson, TN
5 March 20-21 Oral Roberts University Tulsa, OK
6 March 23-24 Oklahoma Baptist University Shawnee, OK
7 March 27 Abilene Christian University Abilene, TX
8 March 29 Texas A&M University College Station, TX
9 March 31 CCCU Conference Dallas, TX
10 April 4 Biola University La Mirada, CA
11 April 4 California Baptist University Riverside, CA
12 April 5 Azusa Pacific University Azusa, CA
13 April 10 Brigham Young University Provo, UT
14 April 13 Colorado Christian University Lakewood, CO
15 April 14 U.S. Air Force Academy Colorado Springs, CO
16 April 17 North Central University Minneapolis, MN
17 April 18 Bethel University St. Paul, MN
18 April 20-21 Wheaton College Chicago, IL
19 April 24 Eastern University St. Davids, PA
20 April 26 U.S. Military Academy West Point, NY

Interactive Map of the 2006 Equality Ride Route


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