“The whole place was packed full of people” Tanner Michels’, a Senior Biola student, explained, “There wasn’t a dry eye in the room. ” NaklD Ministries, a support group formed by Biola student Atticus Shires, was put in place to “empower students and adults in education and understanding in order to love better those who identify as LGBTQ… ” NaklD hosts events that encourage discussion on human sexuality and intimacy. They place an emphasis on meeting people where they are at in their walk with Christ, and encourage Biola to talk about tough questions like homosexuality, ex, and body image.
The debate on whether or not gay students can identify as homosexuals at private Christian colleges is raging across the nation. Publications from Rolling Stone, The OC Register, and The New York Times, illustrate the crisis gay students are facing at Christian universities. It is then plain to see that this issue deserves the utmost attention from university attendees. Understandably, many students who identify themselves as homosexuals are not all in the same condition.
Some students are angry, isolated, or hiding their emotions because of their fear of eing targeted, made fun of, or cast out of their university’s society. Still, other students have gone public with their identity, refusing to be afraid of their peers and the universitys administration. Yet another group of students exist, who chose to attend an evangelical Christian university because of its conservative view on sexuality. There have been several reactions to the plethora of emotions that students exhibit; not Just those who attend Christian universities, but also students at public colleges around the nation.
Bree LaBare, a student at Orange Coast College, a secular community college in Costa Mesa, said many students who are homosexual find solace at their Gay-straight Alliance club on campus. Following the actions of gay students at public schools, many support groups have been formed on Christian college campuses in order for students to show support for one another. NaklD is one of the support groups formed by students who want to provide a safe place for discussion on same-sex attracton. Led by Shires, they are hosting another discussion on October 28th, at Biola Univeristy.
According to Shires, the meeting is open to whoever wants to come, but the majority of attendees are Biola students and alumni. Michels’ attended the last meeting that NaklD hosted. When he first came to Biola, Michels’ was considerably open about his sexuality. He saw the need for discussion among students who had issues with their sexuality, yet they were afraid to talk because of the reaction the university might have. When support groups like NaklD came forward with their intentions, Michels’ saw it as an opportunity for him to help.
After attending NaklD’s first event, he was floored by the intentionality of its leaders, and the honesty that they exhibited. The leader of NaklD, Shires, explained his testimony, and hosted a question and answer session. He explained that their views, while similar to Biola’s, were more lenient in their approach to helping students. Rather than asking students to change their views on whom they should love, NaklD’s purpose is to engage them in conversation, and discuss all forms of sexuality.
To Shires, not every student is in a situation that can be dealt with in the black and hite way that Biola handles situations. Another student at Biola, who declined to thought NaklD was trying to influence the gay community on Biola’s campus to become straight. However, as he did more research, he found that NaklD Just wanted to open a conversation on the subject, and challenge Biola to talk about tough questions like homosexuality and gender identity. This led him to believe that NaklD was helping to expand the views of the Biola community; something he wishes had occurred his freshman year at the university.
Even though NaklD has experienced etbacks, like not being supported by Biola administration, the group has pressed on, determined to bring about the success of their mission. The team works tirelessly to make these meetings happen. From organizing the room, to preparing speeches, brewing coffee, and even purchasing a banner with their group name on it, NaklD is pushing the community of Biola to engage in a discussion that is being talked about nationally. Paving the way for cultural transformation is never easy, but Shires, his team, and the gay community are determined to lay the foundation for change.