When Cody Tegtman was in seventh grade, he wrote “I think I’m gay” on a piece of paper. It was late at night, and Tegtman did not dwell too much on what he had written. He was simply filling his journal, and, following his “train of thought,” he had come up with that sentence. He quickly hid the note in his dresser, and he did not recover it again until he was a junior in high school.
Tegtman is a junior PLNU business administration major from Arizona. He has a passion for photography, and he often ventures around San Diego to take pictures, explore coffee shops and talk with friends. He is a Christian, and he is gay; in fact, his Christianity pushed him towards PLNU. “I was raised in a Christian household,” he said about his school choice. “I wasn’t set on it [PLNU], but [the fact it’s a Christian school] is what made me interested.”
Tegtman always knew “something was different about me,” but he did not officially “come out of the closet” until last summer, at age 19. Growing up, he had always heard homosexuality was wrong, “That’s why I stayed in the closet for so long,” he said.
When his sexual preference became known, Tegtman experienced different reactions. “My parents gave me room and let me come to them when I was ready,” he said. “They told me they loved me and nothing would change between us.”
The Church that always been his second home back in Arizona, on the other hand, expressed negativity. “Since coming out, I haven’t been much active cause [the Church] is back home,” he said. “Some people know, but I am hesitant to go because I know their stance on me.”
People at school also had mixed opinions. “I found that most people have accepted me, but I do know that some people are not like that,” he said. “I noticed some people not talking to me anymore. It’s unfortunate, but it’s something I expected since I go to a Christian university.”
“Still, I hoped everybody was going to be compassionate and open-minded,” he continued.
Tegtman believes several students at PLNU may be reluctant to express their sexual orientation. “They probably just had negative experiences with Christians,” he said. “That forces them to stay in the closet rather than come out.” Some students, however, came out to him and “through that friendship came out stronger.”
Home of PLNU, San Diego is filled with eclectic diversity. In 2010, the San Diego Union Tribune stated that The Advocate – a national gay magazine – ranked the metropolis “first for ‘gay cities’ in California.” It is not rare to find other gay Christians around town.
Jon Ross, a local 28-year-old software engineer, said, “I identify as a Christian and pansexual.” Ross believes the dichotomy between Christianity and homosexuality is nothing short of a false conflict. “Christ died so that we could all be free and actually follow and find the desires of our heart,” he said. “It’s pretty clear that when the New Testament talks about sin, it’s really about keeping people safe, happy and health. . .”
“But our culture has changed,” he continued. “Science has advanced. Loving another person has become safer. Following you heart and living in the freedom and grace of the Cross doesn’t mean repressing who you really are. It means loving who you love.”
Tegtman said that when he steps out of PLNU, he feels free to be himself, and “I’m not as nervous to get negative reactions.” He believes that the relationship between the Christian and the gay communities needs to be rebuilt with the help of willing individuals. “I think it needs to start with people,” he said. “I, myself, try to be that bridge between gay culture and Christian culture.”
“Gays need to realize not every Christian is out to get them. Christians should realize they should be more loving and accepting of gay people,” he added.
Yet in the last year, PLNU has come a long way in its acceptance of homosexuality. In 2015, students joined efforts to give birth to the first LGBTQ+ friendly group, Voices of Love. The battle for the creation of the club did not come without bumps. In 2012, indeed, students put together a Facebook page called “Bridge Point Loma.” The mission statement of the page reads, “We hope to seek reconciliation not based on a change of belief system, but rather from a commitment to live in relationship with opposing worldviews while seeking to understand and dignify the humanity of the ‘other.’ We know bridges cannot be built from only one side. Let’s start building.” That same year, the page reported that “the Vice President of Student Development said administration will shut down any club oriented around making a safe space for LGBT students.”
Tegtman hopes to reach as many conflicted people as possible thanks to this article. To gay students who may feel scared or threatened, he says, “Don’t be afraid to come out because of ideas in your mind. Don’t let the fear of other people keep you from being yourself.”