This essay continues our weekend Student Series: Homosexuality and the Adventist Campus.
PUC: The Pacific Union Closet
I would like to address an all-too-quiet issue at PUC: the LGBT community.Yes, PUC is not exempt from having students of alternate identities.
PUC is a "real world" place, and as much as some would like to say that it is a community that takes into account the principles of God "to love one another," the school administration seems to be neglecting an entire community.
No matter how hard anyone tries, PUC will not, it cannot, remain in the closet about these issues.
One of the issues that came up recently is that in the Campus Chronicle, an article was proposed suggesting "No on Prop 8," but the Chronicle was not allowed to publish it unless it included an argument for Prop 8. The California Proposition 8 which appeared on the recent 2008 ballot was an act that would remove the rights of marriage between homosexual couples that had been granted by the state's Superior Court.
While I like to think that PUC resembles a fair place, to already suggest that both sides of this issue had to be present for it to even be published is ridiculous. If you take the time to observe you see that the small LGBT community here is outnumbered by people who do not support them. When this LGBT group tries to speak out, apparently it has to be met with opposition to create balance. If you already have a community outnumbered so much by the old world mentality, a majority of conservatives who won't accept anything different: why the need for further opposition just to hear alternative perspectives? Do they have to do it as well? No.
The LGBT issue at PUC really isn't talked about much. Those with alternate sexual identities at PUC are ones that you may never know about, and most likely, they themselves fear your judgment. "I would like to be out in the open about my sexuality, but this is neither the time, nor the place", says one anonymous PUC student.
You may ask then, can't this happen anywhere? The answer: Yes, of course. But I would like to suggest that at PUC folks can be a little more close-minded than they really should be, and unfortunately, this produces negative effects.
For anyone who says this is not an issue, please go and ask someone who this actually affects if you are not uncomfortable talking to them, and see how they feel about the issue. Realize that not only are LGBT rights taken away in the Adventist context, but also the feeling of hope of equality in a Christian community is lost. (Remember when just the idea that women can earn as much as men was also attacked as non-Biblical in our community.) For those who say that this is a non-issue are not taking into account any side but their own, and now I would like to suggest that this is due to old bias, not the Bible. The issue at PUC is you have a large number of students and faculty even who don’t even want to really listen to gay and lesbian students.
Possibly these people fear that others will be indoctrinated into being gay, or changed by it. People who think that a person can be indoctrinated into sexuality will most likely ignore the very struggle that those with an alternate sexuality go through: struggling for years to accept that they are different. Often neglected is the fact that these people are not anymore likely to be indoctrinated into being straight, as someone who is straight can be changed into being gay. It's just absurd.
Angwin is tucked away from the busy world; not of this world, but of God in teachings and place. Some at PUC seem to have forgotten that the non-28, non-Angwin world reflects and affects PUC students as well. This reality includes the LGBT community, present at any Christian or non-Christian college. I would like to say that the struggle that the LGBT community has to go through today mirrors in many ways what African-Americans had to go through in this country about four decades ago. Is that really the reputation we Adventists want, one of discrimination? Can we really say that we are an accepting community where at this very school gay jokes are a common presence and many times not just intended to be funny? Those comments really do hurt LGBT students when overheard. I think that PUC is a good place, yet has a long way to go before all students will feel comfortable about being out. The problem is we do not have an accepting community. Staff, students, and administration responsible for student life need to wake up and realize that this is an issue that will not go away.
The very idea that an enrolled student should have to hide who he or she is in a place that says we should love one another goes against the definition of a place we call a Christian campus.
I remember hearing about PUC awhile back from none other than PUC's chaplain. He said, speaking about being here, "If you are Buddhist, be the very best Buddhist you can be while at PUC, if you are Muslim be the best Muslim you can be while at PUC, if you are Christian, be the very best Christian you can be while at PUC". Now I ask: what if you are gay? Would you really have that same chance to be yourself, without feeling ostracized?
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/1496