Jesse James

My Email To The Working Group

Members of the Working Group set to dialogue about Gordon’s current treatment of LGBTQIA+ students were asked to send emails, similar to those requested from students, faculty and staff last month, to voice their perspective on what is happening. I wanted to share with the public what I sent because:

  1. It is my responsibility as a member of the Working Group to be transparent about my stance on the topic, because to anything more would be to lie to the very people you are representing (i.e. if someone who finds same-sex attraction sinful tries to act if they are welcoming to people who experience such attraction)
  2. I am tired of the confidentiality of the group allowing curtains to be drawn and people outside the group to be lied to about what is happening. There is no real dialogue happening. I am constantly fighting for my voice to be properly heard. I am being forced by current practices and treatments of faculty perspectives to represent myself and that is repulsive.

So here is my email regarding what is happening on campus. Please respond, critique and expand on whatever you would like.

Coming into the Working Group I had many expectations, which now I realize were from a misinformed idea of the overall purpose of the meetings, that all pointed to a community that was inclusive towards individuals who identify as LGBTQIA+. Over the past few months I have noticed a number of disheartening perspectives on sexuality, theology and Gordon College that I would like to voice in this email.

First of all, I (along with many other students that have applied to Gordon) were sold a false product. This is not to say that I was lied to, however I was not told the entire truth. I was blinded by the friendliness of my host and his friends, along with the openminded courses that I got to sit in and experience, and yet the topic of the L&CS was never addressed. Technically, I should not have been allowed to apply to Gordon since I was breaking the L&CS by being gay (regardless of any current grammatical changes at the time of me signing it prohibited homosexuality). How is this fair? How should I have been able to enter a contract that I was breaking from the beginning?

I was also told I was safe at this school. I am not safe – although I have never worried about my physical safety I have constantly have my psychological safety threatened and breached.

I have been told I am going to hell.

I have been told that I am actively defying God.

I have been told I am not a Christian. 

I don’t care if you’re sorry or not, and I especially do not care if this is only a small percentage of perspectives present on this campus. They are still here and they are still hurting LGBTQIA+ students. It is disgusting Gordon tries to parade itself as an understanding institution when it is killing its students slowly. I expect at this point you’re going to try disregarding my argument as violent or rude and I ask that you act like an adult and take the criticism you’ve asked for. This is a regular barrier that many of us face – the minute we reach a breaking point our arguments are disregarded as “rants” or “tangents.” Stop doing that to people. Actually listen, otherwise you are just promoting your own agenda.

Why are we allowing heterosexual individuals to make decisions over what to do with LGBTQIA+ students? Why are we continuing to let people with bigoted perspectives to choose how the school treats its students?

NOTE: committing bigoted actions (like not addressing hate crimes committed against students) or saying bigoted things (same-sex attraction is nothing but sinful nature) makes you a bigot.

If you don’t want to be a bigot then stop doing bigoted things.

If you’re hurt by being called a bigot then stop being a bigot.

The position Gordon is in right now allows other students to mistreat those who identify as LGBTQIA+ (i.e. RA’s, sports teams, ministry groups) and that is not fair. Either work with people who identify as such (and a working group that simply suggests to heterosexuals what they can do does not count) or make it clear that you do not want anything to do with people who identify as anything that isn’t cisgendered, heterosexual.

Jesse Steele

Class of 2015


This entry was published on December 27, 2014 at 7:59 pm. It’s filed under College, Thoughts and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

14 thoughts on “My Email To The Working Group

  1. Franklin Brown on said:

    So Jesse. You know I respect you a ton, and there are a good number of things that you’ve written here that I agree are unfair (same-sex attraction shouldn’t be called a sin, homophobia is perpetuated by students, etc.). But. The word ‘bigot.’ This can’t be used in any healthy dialogue (even if the other side doesn’t want to have a dialogue, I sense that you’re at least wanting to promote having one). It doesn’t leave room for another opinion. If someone states their stance, granted it may be controversial or hurtful to hear, and they are called a bigot, they and their opinion are totally delegitimized. I ask that you be aware of what is worth being called bigotry and what isn’t. Old, senile people who don’t think dancing should be allowed or that women should have to wear skirts out of hollow, yet immovable, traditionalism are bigots. Old (not senile) people who are discussing a moral issue with strong support for both sides out of care for their students and out of reverence for an ancient book that can be interpreted well in a number of different ways and expressing their opinion thereupon are not bigots.

    I love you. You’re great. Peace.

    • Thanks for that point Franklin, however I have to disagree. If you are making a racist comment then you are, at that time, a racist. The same goes for bigots – you don’t need to be a bigot every day, and at every second, but in order for there to be any kind of dialogue those who are called “bigots” need to recognize why they are being called such and grow from that. The word is not meant to halt conversation, but that’s what happens because people get offended.

      • Jesse, what do you mean when you use the word “bigot”?

      • I chose the word bigot because that has been the buzzword on campus towards President Lindsay and the entire community. Dictionary definition says a bigot is, “a person who is intolerant toward those holding different opinions.” When I use it in my post I am directing it towards the people who are unwilling to hear the perspectives of these sexual minorities and are trying to cater the atmosphere to their personal views on lifestyle choice. It would be fine if the school allowed a meeting of minds when it came to controversial topics such as sexuality, however at Gordon it is Administrations way or bust.

        This is fine when it comes to topics such as drinking on campus, because that is an external substance that can be controlled, however to try and control sexuality is to try and say that you have authority over the development of these students, which is wrong to say since heterosexual cis-gendered white adults cannot say they know what is best for anyone outside of those sectors.

  2. Oh Jesse! It breaks my heart that you have had to endure such awful comments and blatant disregard for your humanity. The response to these issues has been lacking in grace, humility, and the love of Christ in many many situations. Most reactions are out of fear – fear of not knowing how to react, and fear of the unknown. This is not an excuse to dehumanize anyone, although in most cases I would hope it is not intentional, but rather a byproduct of the fear. Of course, whether intentional or not, the resulting pain is the same. Devaluing of any human soul for any reason whatsoever is despicable. Christ came to love us in all of our mucky awfulness and when we place our own selves above anyone for any reason, we are not following in the footsteps of Christ, who humbled himself fully and completely, placing himself lower than all, although he is Lord of all. It’s truly incredible what he did actually, and if we truly believed it, and acted on it, there would be nothing like what you have described here. Of course, if there are different interpretations of scripture, as there definitely are, then we must respect the differing views, even if we do not agree with them. Respect does not necessitate agreement, which I feel has come to be the view. My Wiccan friend I respect immensely and love her more than I can say, yet I do not happen to believe she is correct in her beliefs. To disagree is not being bigoted. To disagree and be cruel, unreasonable, and un-Christlike, is. I am praying for the situation back there at Gordon. I hope there will be a spirit of forgiveness, mercy, and love in all future conversations you have. I pray also that you would forgive those of us that have hurt you, and that you would have peace in the knowledge that one day all injustice will be ended through our mutual hope and saving grace – Jesus Christ the Lord.

  3. trueanglican on said:

    Maybe the whole point is we need less civility and more anger. More Malcom x and less Martin luther King. As a person of color I get sick of my fellow evangelicals making excuses for their churches lack of diversity. I can understand your anger, don’t let anyone take it away. It’s righteous anger .

  4. Will smith on said:

    If you don’t like Gordon’s policies find a new school Jesse. I for one am more than grateful that the school isn’t caving in and is standing by its values.

    • Unfortunately it would be a negative idea economically at this point since I only have one semester left, so thanks for your irrelevant comment. I’m glad you feel safe, so then I can assume you are a heterosexual cis-gendered male. It’s really great that you can be such a godly man (assuming that is you) and completely disregard the perspectives of others by telling them to leave. Hope you had a wonderful Christmas.

      • Will smith on said:

        Even if I was an atheist the point would still remain the same that you are trying to make a school accept your beliefs and support it. Typical liberal, no one cares that you’re gay kid, just stop parading around and stoking a fire because the school refuses to say they “support” your choice. It’s a college you pay to go there clearly you’re a fool to keep getting upset over a school that stands by its values and doesn’t support you while you continue to pay money to go there. Have fun feeling “unsafe” when you know the only turmoil you’ve had to endure is from fellow college students that are sick of your shit.

      • First a note: you really aren’t speaking from an atheist mindset b/c you are, in fact, not an atheist so your current position (I’m assuming as a Christian) influences what you call the “atheist point.”

        Also, you must have misread my letter wrong. I am not advocating for the school to take on my beliefs, that would be more like someone requesting the cafeteria only serve vegetarian meals. What I am voicing is against discriminatory actions that take place every day at Gordon. If you are in fact saying that I have no right to speak against these mistreatments, and that I should just go somewhere else, then you are also implying that it is okay for communities to be racist or sexist so long as they keep it to themselves. Am I understanding you correctly?

        Lastly, I would like to make it clear that students are not the only turmoil I face. Professors actively say that I am going to hell or that I am not a Christian. The administration that I am paying with my tuition is not properly representing me as they do other students, which is discriminatory if I am simply expecting the same treatment as heterosexual students paying the same tuition.

    • Dear Will smith,

      Your bigoted comments scandalize me if only because of your offered name.

  5. Jesse – as a straight, cisgendered woman, I cannot truly know what it’s like to be part of the evangelical church as a LGBTQ IA person. But, I do know what it’s like to be hurt by the church and to be marginalized for not holding the “correct” (whatever that is) positions on some evangelical issues. And I know what it’s like to have that happen at Gordon (alum). Reading this reminded me of a blog post I read over a year ago that has stuck with me. I hope maybe it can help you too.

    It’s ok to say things like “stop hurting me,” “stop hurting my community,” and even “I’m not going to let you hurt me anymore.” God does not call us to be doormats for Jesus. God calls us to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God. And there is no way for us to show grace and mercy to everyone without seeking and doing justice. Any grace shown without justice isn’t really grace at all because it fails to show grace to those who have been treated unjustly.

    Please have hope that there are perspectives and Christian communities out there that are nothing like Gordon (and nothing like the evangelical church). They can sometimes be hard to find, but they are there.

    The peace of Christ to you – Karen

  6. Flarvik on said:

    Jesse, your point about the tuition inequality is the strongest point out there. That your tuition dollar doesn’t pay for the same product and protections that a hetero student gets! I personally (straight alum supporter) think a lawsuit along this line would produce change. I know OneGordon doesn’t want such conflict, so I don’t ask it of them, but I sure wish someone (it would have to be someone currently a student) would sue along the separate-but-equal lines. I was told I was holding beliefs that also had me “going to hell” while I was there, and someone NOT in the subculture wouldn’t understand how that isolates and subjects one to ridicule and shunning. (Life is a whole lot better outside of the subculture, but that’s not what you want to hear, I know.). I still think there’s room for legal stuff here, based on financial inequality. Thanks for writing your post. And in particular, thanks for your talk about listening to criticism as a grownup. And finally, You are 100% correct that bigoted actions denote bigots. And bigoted beliefs beget those actions. We got your back!!

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