By Scott Davis, vice-president of operations for Exodus International and Virginia Tech Alumnus
When I was in college at Virginia Tech, I was into football and hanging out with my friends. You may consider it nothing short of a miracle, but I remained (and still remain) friends with several of my buddies who were Spiders, like yourself!
If there’s one thing campus life in general has taught me, it’s that people love labels. In college, I was known as The Rock. I’m pretty sure it referred to my stubbornness, because I sure don’t have the body of a pro wrestler! Of course, some labels are ones we don’t mind, others we strive for and then, there are names no one ever wants to be called. It always upset me to hear sneering labels used to demean gay and lesbian students on my campus. Unfortunately, it goes both ways. I’ve heard some who proudly wear the “gay” label mock people who simply don’t agree with their views who used harsh names as well. On more than one occasion I’ve heard the words “ignorant,” “bigoted” or even “homophobic” used for such a purpose.
The irony is that both sides communicate the same thing. The side that uses the “gay” label to demean gays and lesbians and the side that wears the “gay” label proudly say, “Anyone dealing with same-sex attraction is stuck this way, and there’s nothing they can do about it.”? To me, that is the most disheartening message of all.
I know this because I know many students who have bucked the trend and have chosen to define themselves by what they believe rather than by society’s labels. In college, I had many friends who felt same-sex attractions, yet refused the gay label and chose to live by what they believed and not solely by their feelings. Since college, I’ve been working at Exodus International with people who struggle with unwanted same-sex attractions and helping them to live a life that reflects their core beliefs.
My friend Chris recently blogged about this and said he wished he had known that there was such a thing as Exodus years ago: “That message of hope and grace was not shared with me until after I had embraced the gay identity – a time when I didn’t want to hear it. Had I had friends I knew I could trust with my secrets and who poured out the message of God’s grace over the coals of judgment I had been walking on, I don’t think I would have made some of the choices I did.”
This month, many gay and lesbian clubs will hold a Day of Silence event on campuses across the country to talk about the experiences many homosexuals face. I wholeheartedly agree that harassment is cruel and does not represent God’s heart for others. Not to mention, it’s a poor way to go about dealing with your differences. But I am bothered to see such a one-sided message presented. That’s why I am participating in the Day of Truth – an event where students from all different walks of life and varying viewpoints can have honest conversations about sexuality.
This conversation is too important to continue labeling each other with hateful words and dismissing the human struggles that lie beneath the rhetoric. We must make sure that open-mindedness and understanding apply to both sides. Otherwise, tolerance and diversity are simply meaningless buzzwords with no take-home value. And I would hope that as Hokies and Spiders, we can at least agree on that!
The Day of Truth was established to counter the promotion of the homosexual agenda and express an opposing viewpoint from a Christian perspective. It will be held April 20 on college campuses nationwide.
Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in the Univ. of Richmond Collegian, April 9, 2009.