Bethany Lutheran: The Last Stop
It was the final stop of the Equality Ride. For the first time, both buses were going to be visiting a school together. It was almost surreal. Seeing over fifty Equality Riders instead of just twenty-six was amazing. Looking to my left and right, it was great to see two people from the westbound bus. It was beyond a beautiful moment–it was a moment in time that cannot be replaced.
After standing in vigil for over an hour, all the Riders and many community members prepared to step onto campus. It was a beautiful thing to see over eighty people start walking onto campus because they felt the need for this conversation and truly wanted to deliver a message of love, only to be stopped by law enforcement and administration and turned away. Ten Riders kneeled in front of them–this time, half from the West bus and half from the East bus. It was incredible to see the symbol of unity in this message and effort. Many of us were brought to tears.
Many students soon came to engage in conversations with us about how they felt about the topic of “homosexuality.” Some of the students were being friendly, others not quite so. I personally met some students that were very fixed on the thought that we were basically satanic. But I could see how all the Riders were really demonstrating this amazing message of love. It was quite interesting to see how these students were reacting to how loving and polite we were. It was almost as if they didn’t expect us to be courteous.
This stop was really intriguing for me. It challenged me in many ways to know how to express the love I want them to see in me. They recognized this love in us. Although they weren’t returning the same love entirely, they surely noticed that we were seeing beauty and humanity in them. In the end, I feel they noticed the same in us, but were unable to show they noticed it.
Through the conversations that I had with students, I could get a sense of the environment that exists on campus. Hearing what they were taught about homosexuality makes me fear for the LGBT students on campus. But they got the message they really needed when we came. They heard it too.