By Hannah Schaefer | Contributor
As a student leader on Taylor's campus, I spend a lot of time thinking about hospitality. Hospitality in leadership is about making space for people to feel like they belong. When I think about hospitality and the places we could practice it better, one particular area sticks out to me: LGBTQ Taylor students.
I want LGBTQ students to feel welcome here. There are more of them on campus than you might think. We don't openly ridicule or mock them, but we do forget about them. In some ways, forgetting is just as bad as mocking. They attend the same classes, dances and wing retreats that we do. Considering all the events they attend on campus, very few events were created with them in mind. Imagine how invisible and lonely you'd feel if you were in their place.
If you don't know anyone who is LGBTQ, you will someday. When that day comes, you won't be able to read your rehearsed apologetics on same-sex marriage. The person you meet might be a friend's roommate-or your boss. She might not care about your opinion, but you may have to interact with her anyway. Maybe the fact that she's not straight will make it hard for you to see her without picturing "gay" printed on her forehead. Or maybe you'll see her as a whole person. Maybe you'll be able to invite her into your life and forgo preaching the compulsory sermon about your views.
In recent years, Taylor has made an effort to have more honest, open conversations about sexuality. I am grateful for this effort, but it is lacking in many ways, especially in conversations about sexual identity. During my time in student leadership, I watched others try and fail to bring LGBTQ speakers to our campus. But exposing ourselves to those views is essential, because they are more than views. They are people.
Hospitality doesn't mean we can't disagree with each other's beliefs. Instead, I hope this is a challenge to think about what we're disagreeing on. Are we disagreeing on a person's right to exist? A person's right to tell his story? As Christians, those things are not up for debate. Every person has value. Every person is worthy of love and belonging.
The act of humanizing another person is compassionate work. I've had three friends come out to me during my time at Taylor, and each time I realized how hard it is to feel connected when someone has so many secrets they feel like they can't share. This article, in many ways, is for them: this is my attempt at practicing hospitality. I want them to feel wanted. I don't want to pretend like they don't exist. I want to keep their needs in mind when we plan wing events, TSO events and chapel services. I want to make fewer assumptions about the people around me.
Many of us fear the LGBTQ community because we don't understand them. They are unknown-strangers trying to strip us of our religious rights. I wonder if our fear would lessen if we invited one another to be fully known. Perhaps our love could be so perfect that it casts out our fear.