The Daily Gamecock

BGLSA discusses homosexuality in Christian environment

Two-part series opens discussions about gays and relgion


A discussion among gay and Christian members of the USC community could have easily ended in argument and aggression Monday evening, but it concluded instead with love and tolerance.

“Transforming the Conversation”, hosted by the university’s Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian, Straight Alliance (BGLSA), featured the executive director of the Gay Christian Network, Justin Lee, as moderator of a conversation in an auditorium filled with Christians and gays.

“We want to change each other’s minds, whether we will admit it or not,” Lee said while explaining what a conversation really is.

“Conversation is more effective than debate when it comes to changing people’s minds because if I actually understand why you disagree with me, I know better how to change your mind. Plus, the more understood you feel, the more you care about what I think.”

Lee explained two ground rules to the audience: no questions that were simply used to state beliefs, and no questions that would obviously lead to a debate.

The Christians opened the conversation with the sensitive question of “What was it like for the gay people here to come out to a Christian society?”

“I grew up a Jehovah’s Witness, and I had a very unpleasant experience,” one gay student answered. “My parents kicked me out. My church said, ‘We can’t accept this,’ and kicked me out. I became a really angry atheist. I hated God and religion, but in late high school I made my own interpretation of the Bible and it became positive. It went from very negative to very positive.”

As the conversation continued, tension in the room became noticeable. Lee stepped in multiple times after several questions touched nerves and threatened to elicit arguments. With the correctly moderated questions such as, “How do you deal with the fact that the Bible says homosexuality is wrong?” and “What makes sexual sin more damning or troublesome than nonsexual sin?” were answered and discussed calmly and with understanding.

Logan Smith, a third-year business student, turned the conversation away from hostility and toward compassion for both sides.

“We just need to show love and do what Jesus Christ would’ve done,” said Smith, a heterosexual Christian. “Christians ruin it for others to know Jesus. I’m not going to condemn you. There’s no difference between a man lusting after a man and a man lusting after a woman.”

The tension was immediately gone from the room, and both sides — the believers that homosexuality is wrong and those who believe gender doesn’t matter ­— began to speak openly with complete honesty and acceptance.

The final question was asked by a male Christian student.

“Is it a pleasure thing, or can you choose, or can you not?” he asked. “From a scientific standpoint, it doesn’t work. Homosexuality doesn’t work. You can’t make babies. I just don’t understand. I can’t relate.”

The answer was love.

“When I came out, it wasn’t about sex,” said Gypsy Barrientos, a third-year psychology student and B.G.L.S.A member. “It never was. I loved her. Sex is basically just a bonus, and that’s all it is. The thing that’s missing from this conversation is the component of love, and that’s what we are fighting for. It’s always about sex, or the act itself, but it’s never about the emotion behind it.”

B.G.L.S.A will be hosting the second day of “Transforming the Conversation” tonight in room 107 of Currell College at 9 p.m.