Preface Read Part Two Read Part Three Read Part Four Read Part Five I don’t know if I’m an introverted person by nature; or because of growing up in Independent …
WHO WE ARE
Dean Stalnaker, Part Two
Editor’s note: Last week, Dean told us of his childhood in a rural Midwest community, his time at Bob Jones University, his years of devotion to the fundamentalist churches where …
Dean Stalnaker, Part One
It has been only two years since I first admitted to myself that I am gay and began the process of coming out. I know some people say that they …
In total, I spent ten years at Bob Jones University. Many have asked why I stayed there so long despite the fact that I had these feelings of “not quite …
I loved being at BJU. In public school I had always stood out as the fundamentalist nerd. At BJU, I finally belonged. But all was not well in paradise. By my sophomore year at BJU, I became self-aware enough to realize I was what people would call “homosexual.”
I have several memories from my pre-school childhood. The two most determinative ones had to do with my sense of God and my sense of myself. The first incident occurred when I was just three years old. My adoptive parents were fighting. The shouting and commotion scared me, so I went back into my room and got down on my knees beside my bed as I had been taught. This time, however, for some reason I cannot explain, I prayed, “Heavenly Mother, if you can hear me, please make the fighting stop!
Virginia Ramey Mollenkott
I was a 1953 graduate of BJU and taught there for a year before getting my MA from Temple University and PhD from New York University. I was shocked when Bob Jones, Sr. bragged in chapel that the university had destroyed the records of several graduates so they could not prove they had attended BJU; and shocked again when I realized that my class had been coached for the Graduate Record Exams by using actual questions from the exams. I was young, but it surely smelled like cheating to me! I had realized I was lesbian very early on, and had tried suicide at a “Christian” high school before attending BJU; but my orientation never came up during college because I lived celibate.
It’s a strange experience, trying to figure out how to tell a story that you yourself don’t even fully understand yet. Where to begin? There’s not much to tell about my childhood with regard to my sexual orientation. I grew up as most fundamentalist children do, believing that homosexuality was a very bad sin. I was taught it was a choice that revealed the deepest depravity of that soul. I never met a gay person, but there was one boy from our church who came out as gay long after he left. Since rumors had it that he crushed on girls back when I knew him, I assumed that was proof that he had chosen to be gay. I suppose the clues that I was bisexual were all around me; I just didn’t recognize them…
If you had asked me a year ago whether I would ever see myself in the role of executive director of a fledgling gay rights organization, I would have laughed at you. When I finally regained my composure, I probably would have said something like “being gay is a very small part of my identity and somewhere down the list near the fact that I am a movie buff and an avid reader of J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis and the other Inklings. I’m neither proud of it nor ashamed of it. It just is. I’m a Christian, an Anglican, a classical musician, a composer, a writer… so many other labels I would use to define myself before I would identify myself as being gay.” Don’t get me wrong. I came out of the closet many years ago, though for years I merely acknowledged my sexuality without actually embracing it. I have been a spectator at Pride Marches in the past, but never someone who was interested in marching. So why do I find myself preparing to lead a group of LGBTQQI and Affirming former students and alumni of Bob Jones University down Fifth Avenue next month in our first-ever participation in New York City’s Pride March?
Joy Paul Schwenke
My story is not so much a coming out story as much as a forced out story. The main struggle was what I did when I was outed and finally accepted the fact that I was gay and a Christian. The two realities most certainly did not fit together in my mind when I reached puberty at about twelve or when I was outed at forty-four. They did not fit together for the next several years, and even now I struggle emotionally with reconciling those two facets of my identity.