With the idea of a student-run gay-straight alliance being recognized more prominent than ever, the InterVarsity Christian Club invited students to participate in “The Homosexuality Discussion; Let’s Elevate the Conversation.”
The group also invited Tom Richter, pastor of New Hope Church in Jamaica, to lead the discussion. Richter believes in the traditional Christian view of homosexuality, but said it was important to take into consideration the perspectives of the other side when discussing the sensitive topic.
“Both openly gay people and Christians both feel that they’re just being dismissed simply because this affects the deepest part of who they are and they feel they’re being written off,” Richter said.
Adrian L’Esperance, co-president of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship and member of the men’s soccer team, said while the discussion was controversial, he felt it necessary to clear up any misapprehensions one side might have of the other.
“It was kind of almost a risky move on our part as InterVarsity Christian Fellowship because I knew we were being pulled into a political struggle,” he said.
“Both sides have misconceptions of the other side. Once we start to clear those up, and then we can actually start working on the issue.”
Richter hoped that in starting a discussion of homosexuality between Christians and gay people, people on both sides would be able to understand where the other is coming from.
“The only way to respect one another is to get to know one another and go beyond categories and treat people like the long stories like they are,” he said.
“People feel like it’s inseparable from who I am, my identity and that’s where this intensity comes from.”
When it comes to talking about the controversial issue, he said it is important that both sides remain completely honest when discussing their own perspective.
“Don’t ask each other to deny the deepest part of who they are,” he said.
“Come to the table honestly and then say, ‘There are places where we’re going to partner and places we’re going to diverge.”
Junior Alice Wong said she believes Richter was able to lead a balanced discussion on the topic, taking into consideration both sides of the argument.
“His interaction with the crowd kept everyone engaged and helped us better understand this controversial issues from all perspectives,” she said.
“Pastor Tom’s message was thought provoking, powerful and respectful to all that were there.”
L’Esperance said that the conversation wouldn’t necessarily get rid of the conflict, but hoped it’d clear up any misunderstandings one side had of the other.
“There will still be conflict, but that doesn’t mean that one person is better than the other,” he said.