It reminds us of the student groups of the 1960s, only without the draft-dodging and bra-burning: LGBT students at Biola University, a private Evangelical college in La Mirada, CA, have launched a website and campus-wide campaign after the school released a policy defining “any acts of sexual intimacy between two persons of the same sex as an illegitimate moral option for the confessing Christian.”
The goal of the Biola Queer Underground, as the group calls itself, is to put the spotlight on administrators and protect gay students the school might try to expel. Fear of reprisal is high, though, so last week, the BQU invited students from other universities to pass out information about their website and plaster “Biola is Queer” posters and quick-response code (QR) stickers across campus.
Seeking out members without being outed is tricky, one (anonymous) member told blogger John Shore:
“We have to be so careful… We have this whole system set up where we essentially, and very delicately, vet a person through talking to and connecting with their friends and associates. It’s a subtle process. But it works. By the time we actually extend someone an invitation to join us, we know that’s the right thing to do. And so far it’s been great. It’s surprised even us how many people have joined the group.”
The Underground is also (respectfully) challenging Biola’s homophobic code of conduct. In an open letter to administrators and fellow students on their site, the BQU wrote:
First of all, thank you for your ongoing work to make this university an important, beautiful place. We appreciate your sacrifice to make Biola’s mission a reality – “equipping men and women [and other] in mind and character to impact the world for the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Let us make clear the purpose of this website. Please understand that our goal is not to change, disrespect, or rebel against the mission or values of this university. This project is a compilation of many individuals; therefore one piece does not necessarily reflect the feelings of all involved. While this letter does not speak for everyone in Biola’s LGBTQ community, the majority of us hold similar values to those which Biola is founded on. We chose to attend and be employed at Biola, and desire to finish our education here and continue our service. Know that this is a big risky step for us.
The purpose of this website is multidimensional:
1.We want to bring to light the presence of the LGBTQ community at Biola. Despite what some may assume, there are Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, Transgender, and Queers at Biola. We are Biola’s students, alumni, employees, and fellow followers of Christ.
2. Biola’s value statement reads, “We believe that integrity and authenticity should be hallmarks of every believer. Our relationships should be models of transparency, truth-telling and unwavering commitment to the example set by the Lord Jesus Christ.” Although Biola may have good intentions in the way it handles homosexuality and related subjects, this does not foster the desired outcome of integrity and transparency among LGBTQ individuals. We speak for our majority in saying that most LGBTQ people feel isolated and fearful of rejection should we act with integrity and come out of the closet. Biola needs to take a close look at its fundamental values, first to question whether they are carried out, and second to discuss if identifying as LGBTQ is in fact contrary to these values.
3. We want to be treated with equality and respected as another facet of Biola’s diversity. Reconciling faith with non-conforming gender/sexual identities is our most important and difficult goal. This of course will take time. We begin by sharing a few of our personal stories and writings.
In conclusion, hearts need to be changed not policies, minds opened not handbooks, and love spread where there is division. We unapologetically pursue our purposes with prayer, patience, and humility.
Frankly, we’re a little confused: It’s not so surprising to hear of gay students trapped at small Evangelical colleges in the middle of Wyoming or Louisiana, with no place to go and no funds to strike out on their own. But Biola is in Southern California—its main campus is, like, 25 miles from West Hollywood. Imagining the hardship these kids must face, we can’t help but feel like they should run and never look back.
But we know it’s not always that easy.
Regardless, we wish the Underground the best of luck with changing the stone hearts of Biola administrators. You’re in our prayers, guys!