In light of Azusa Pacific University lifting their ban on same-sex relationships on campus, PLNU also made a decision to open up our campus to these conversations. The controversy over APU lifting this ban was timely with a Voices of Love event, as Point Loma Nazarene University made history on Wednesday, March 20th with Voices of Love hosting a Christianity and the LGBTQIA+ Community discussion panel. This allowed an alumnus, a current student, a licensed marriage therapist, family therapist and a pastor to open up about their experiences in and with the community.
Overall, this event allowed voices to be heard that otherwise would have been whispers on this campus. The ARC was nearly filled to capacity, with around 300 students, faculty, staff and members of the community present.
Voices of Love allowed attendees to send in questions to the panelists. While the short amount of time left many questions unanswered, the majority of the panelists spoke from their experience or knowledge as a pastor or therapist.
More often than not, the importance of simply listening with the intent of listening was emphasized. Jake Gilbertson, Dean of Students, expanded on this idea. “The best thing to do is listen to people’s stories. If we are not listening to and looking at them face-to-face, it’s hard to be open. It’s important to listen.”
Taeshon Greene, senior marketing major, was on the panel as the current student voice. “These conversations are so important because there is so much information out there and so many opinions,” said Greene. “To be able to help people that want to hear directly from the source how they’re affected is nice. It’s very toxic to claim that you know so much about a community when you have no idea how it works.”
The importance of having these conversations was not understated by the panelists, two of whom got to speak from their experiences as students at PLNU. Cassidy Lane, a freshman nursing major who attended the event, also said, “Because the majority of the people on the panel were both gay and religious, it felt as if both sides were acknowledged.”
At the conclusion of the event, Gilbertson invited attendees who disagreed or had more questions to speak to him about their queries and disagreements.