Thursday, March 03, 2011

Queer Harding University

I'm overdue for a new post, and luckily Joe.My.God tipped me off to a controversy brewing in Searcy, Arkansas, that merits our attention.

Harding University is a conservative Christian college affiliated with the Church of Christ, and some of its LGBT students have begun publishing an anonymous 'zine writing about their struggles in life and at school. It went live online and the college responded by having the site blocked as pornographic.

Joe points the way to this post, which is a nice personal essay about the univerity and its discrimination against LGBT students; it also contains a great summary of the contents of the 'zine.

The university responded recently to the controversy, which is reported here.

One can argue the seeming illogic of attempting to be openly gay in a private religious university that openly preaches and teaches an anti-gay message (the New Yorker has good things to say about that), or the university's First Amendment right to preach and teach that message.

What's important to me about this is that Harding is, like most organizations (not to mention governments) that discriminate and advocate discrimination against LGBT people, using its power to silence those people's expression. They're working actively to deny them their voices, to make them invisible. The authors of the 'zine make clear that they will not tolerate it in the first piece, a letter addressed, "Dear Harding:"

We are not asking anything from you. We are here to tell you we exist and will not be silenced.
Hurray for them.

Read some of the 'zine if you get a minute. As political as it (rightly) is, it doesn't read like a screed. It is a presentation of a lot of young people in difficult positions as they earnestly struggle with their faith, attempting to be themselves in an environment that is hostile to them.

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