Gay at Gordon

by ethankilgore

It was the weekend of my Discovery camping trip and our group had just finished making Smores over a campfire. I was in the middle of cleaning up when I heard the conversation going on just a little ways away from me. It didn’t take long for me to realize they were talking about me, and more specifically discussing whether or not I was gay. The conversation ended fairly quickly when one of them established that “Yeah, he’s definitely a faggot.” The group heard a short version of my life story that night – I was in no mood to be vulnerable.

That wasn’t the first time I had been called a derogatory slur, but it was the first time that I had been called one at Gordon. For me, that made a difference. I had come to college praying that I would find refuge in a body of believers, but it seems my expectations were set too high. In every group of people there is going to be someone who speaks hatefully, but it’s just a little bit worse when it is coming from someone who is supposed to represent Christ’s love.

Right now I don’t want to talk about choosing sides, or start debating theology, and I most definitely do not want to talk about politics. I just want to shed a little light on a topic that too few people are discussing. I want to acknowledge an issue that is more prevalent than most of us believe.

So what is it like being gay at Gordon? In my experience you’re never allowed to forget that you are different from most people. The few who are open about their sexuality can rarely talk about it without being engaged in theological debates. You keep tight-lipped for fear of drawing too much attention to yourself – you learn to lie in the name of self-preservation. People take your humanity away when they perceive you as an issue. More than a few people have told me that I am the first gay person that they have met. It’s something that I have a hard time hearing, not because of the isolation, but because it becomes your definition.

For me, love cuts both ways. It’s the thing that I rely on to get through each day, but also the thing I’m told that I’m forbidden to ever have. Imagine someone coming up and telling you that you aren’t allowed to ever be in a relationship, or that you need to break up with whomever you’re dating. Imagine being told you aren’t allowed to have the kind of love your parents shared – or that you could never start a family.

What would it look like if the body of Christ showed His love to a group of people who are so often desperately hurting? To tell them that they are loved deeply by a God who knows their hearts? It would be a beautiful sight, but one that I fear is much too foreign in our current society, even at Gordon. That isn’t to say there are not people at Gordon who are eager to show their love and support to those who open up. In fact, I have found that there are many amazing Godly people who sincerely want to help and do not see you as anything different than a brother or sister in Christ. If only everyone could be such accurate displays of Christian love.

One of the most common questions I get when people find out that I’m gay is “Why did you come to Gordon?” It’s a valid question, and one that even now I’m not sure I can fully answer. The best I can do is say that I felt God calling me to the campus, and that I honestly believe he has a purpose for me being here. He never promised that it was going to be easy. I said that I’d leave theology out of this article, but we all know its lurking underneath. So I’ll be forward and end with the verse that has shaped my time here at Gordon.

“Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. – Romans 13: 9-10