Yesterday I posted about HU Queer Press, an online magazine published by an anonymous group of LGBTQ students at my alma mater, Harding Unviversity. Since then the issue has gotten a lot of press, including Jezebel, The New Yorker blog, KARK, and others. I got a call earlier today from a gay Harding student who is upset by HUQP's approach to the issue and says that some of what they say is factually incorrect. I said that if he wanted to write a response, I'd publish it for him and keep him anonymous as well. I'll reserve my reactions for the comment space, and would love to hear other views as well. Here's what he said:
I am a gay student currently attending Harding University who wants to voice my own experiences and give voice to the experiences of other gay students at HU. While the accounts presented in “The State of The Gay” e-zine are compelling, sad, frustrating, and even downright infuriating, they are not representative of the current environment on campus.
Harding University does not have a rule against “being gay.” I am open about my sexuality all over campus—to students, faculty, staff, and members of the administration. The fact that I am a gay man is common knowledge, not just at Harding University, but also at my church (a Church of Christ). Never once have I been threatened with expulsion or forced reparative therapy. If anyone was threatened with disciplinary action unless they received counseling, it was not for simply identifying themselves as gay. When a rule is broken, action is taken, but there is no rule against “being gay.” This hasn’t always been the case, and Harding isn’t a perfect place. Is there bigotry there? Yes, and we must deal with that. We should not blast them, however, for things that simply aren’t true.
Additionally, there is a growing impression that Integrity Ministries at Harding is a place where people are forced to go and be “fixed.” This is simply not true. Everyone who is a part of Integrity Ministries is there of their own free will and choice. The names of the persons attending meetings and/or utilizing resources are not even known by anyone in the administration, faculty, or staff. Students approach the ministry, the ministry does not approach (or impose upon) students, and their identity is kept highly confidential.
If the ethic driving the current debate is freedom of choice, then we must extend that freedom to those whose faith and personal relationship with God have led them to CHOOSE to address their sexuality in the way they see fit. The reason my friends and I remain anonymous in this debate is not because we fear oppression from Harding University—but the exact opposite. Those who are driving this debate are not allowing us our own freedom, and not creating a “safe place” for us to be honest about who we are and who we want to be. These people who demand a safe place for themselves are guilty of denying the same thing to us. At Harding University, we have found many, many, many people who are loving, accepting, nurturing, and inclusive. Simply put: HUQueerPress does not represent the majority of gay students at Harding University, and everyone at the University (administration included) is not the grotesque stereotype that HUQueerPress is trying to make them out to be.