Reporter's Notebook

Struggling With Same-Sex Attraction at a Christian School
Show Description +

Readers share their personal stories of grappling with stigma and shame on campus. Email hello@theatlantic.com with your own experience.

Show None Newer Notes

Being a Gay Teacher at a Christian College

A reader provides a perspective from the faculty side of our discussion on same-sex attraction on campus:

I read with interest the article you published about LGBT politics at Christian colleges. I happen to be gay and teach at a member institution of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. I have written three anonymous essays for Inside Higher Ed. Here is the link to the most recent one.

The other two essays are here and here. The latter begins:

My story is neither dramatic nor a profile in courage. Raised in a conservative Christian home, I only knew that homosexuality was a very serious sin. Then in graduate school, I fell in love with someone of the same sex -- ironically enough, a conservative Christian like myself. My feelings scared me greatly. This person loved me as well, but we never articulated what those feelings were to each other until much later, when the feelings had changed. Since that time I have loved other persons of my sex, but only recently have I accepted my sexual orientation, when I am already teaching at a CCCU institution.

Our next reader, who is bisexual, attended Messiah College in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania. That private school’s community covenant states: “[W]e are to avoid such sinful practices as drunkenness, stealing, dishonesty, profanity, occult practices, sexual intercourse outside of marriage, homosexual behavior, and sexually exploitative or abusive behavior.” Here’s our anonymous reader:

When I signed the covenant, I was an immature home-schooled child living in a conservative Christian household. I had a closed mind, had not come to my own beliefs, and knew little of myself. It was only after years of growth while attending college that I learned to accept that I was bisexual, and that parts of Christianity could not only accept but embrace my non-heterosexuality.

A reader, Seldon, just came across our series from a few months ago featuring readers sharing their experiences of being gay or lesbian at a religious institution of learning. Seldon tells a disturbing story of being outed as a gay man in the late ‘80s at a Christian liberal arts college in Wilmore, Kentucky:

Greetings from Dallas, Texas! It has been nearly 29 years since this native Kentuckian was a student at Asbury College. Although I spent most of my first year there trying to fit in and going through the motions of trying to be straight (casually dating young women, etc.), I had known deep down inside since puberty that I was attracted to other males.

After meeting some fellow students who were gay or gay friendly, I began to accept my orientation as a gift from God and to love myself as one of God’s children. I poured myself into my Elementary Education studies, achieved a high GPA, and made some wonderful friends.

At the end of my senior year, however, I was outed by my roommate’s girlfriend. (She later told me that my being gay wasn’t a problem now, but “since all gay men grow up to become sexually attracted to kids,” she had to do something!)