Editor Goodbye & Introduction to the LBGT Feature
About a month ago I was sitting on an overstuffed couch in a monastery talking with an alumnus about his time as a student at SAU. He attended Spring Arbor at the time that transgender professor Julie Nemecek left campus in the wake of a termination notice she received. Dr. Nemecek filed a discrimination complaint that was settled outside of court. The alumnus I was speaking to said conversations about sexuality began to bloom on campus as students sought to understand the situation around them. A panel discussion on sexuality was held, multiple views and viewpoints were presented, but there was not a gay Christian on the panel. At the close, during the question time, a faculty member stood up with a comment. “It is good that we are having this conversation,” said the professor, “but until there is a gay Christian on that panel, we aren’t really having the conversation.”
The alum and I spoke about where the conversation was today on campus; I didn’t know. It seemed the talking had gone underground, if it was voiced at all. The former Student Alliance for Equality (S.A.F.E ), a gay-straight alliance, no longer existed to my knowledge. He was disheartened. So was I.
The following articles are not about opposing views on lesbian, bisexual, gay and transgender (LBGT) topics. They do not have the political and philosophical tones we too often try and discuss others’ lives with. Those conversations are necessary, but they are not where we begin. Dialogue begins with listening. This is not a balanced argument about two sides; you know the arguments and the sides. These are stories. Brave and fragile and honest. This is not about agreeing or disagreeing, converting or leading astray.
In the following testimonies, the words gay, lesbian, bisexual and LBGT are used in reference toward same-sex attraction. They give no right to make assumptions about actions in any way. Some of the writers have chosen to be named, wanting to speak and converse about their experiences. Others remain anonymous; there is much to consider in reference to families, friends and communities before you tell any piece of your story.
So why, as editor, have I done what I have done? Why have I printed an uncomfortable poem about Hyena sex? Why did I write about the drinking policy? Why am I sharing stories of students kept safe by silence? I have a small reputation through these things and others as being subversive. I stir trouble, I disagree, I push back. And I do this because I have loved. In my time as a student I have seen the triumphs of SAU’s greatness and its very real underbelly. I have loved this university throughout our joy and shame and heartbreak and honesty and confusion.
As students, unlike staff and faculty, we have the unique power and privilege of paying to be here. Our voices can speak without fear of raised eyebrows or looming tenures. Though important aspects, this university is not about comforting your parents or reiterating truths you already hold. It is about listening and asking. Curiously, compassionately, relentlessly. Critical participants in a contemporary world.
As I leave as a student and editor, I pray I have served you well and if I can ask of you anything it is this: don’t be afraid to listen and speak. Don’t be afraid to listen and disagree or agree. Don’t be afraid to change your mind or confuse your beliefs. There are many worse things than being a heretic; it usually means you are asking the right questions and the conversation isn’t over yet. It’s time to talk.
By Alexandra Harper