By Emily Lohec | Staff Writer, Video by Igor Stepczysnki | Broadcast Reporter
Justin Lee, a Christian advocate for the LGBTQ+ community, spoke to Baylor students about acceptance and standing united while on campus Tuesday night.
The Diana R. Garland School of Social Work hosted Lee as a speaker for Baylor’s Conversation Series, which focuses on “civil discourse for the campus community.”
Lee is an author and public speaker known for serving as a voice for the Christian LGBTQ+ community, and the founder of Q Christian Fellowship, the world’s largest LGBTQ+ Christian advocacy organization.
Lee believes that in order to discuss issues with people, we must share our stories to better understand what others may be going through. He wanted the audience to grasp the fact that he was not going use the night to share his personal story but rather to shed hope on the idea of understanding and accepting the LGBTQ+ community.
“I’m a Christian, first and foremost — my faith is at the core of who I am, from the very beginning of my life,” Lee said. “I think we spend a lot of time talking about LGBTQ issues— I don’t want to talk about issues tonight but I want to talk about issues through the lens of talking about actual people, because God loves people more than God loves issues.”
Lee feels that the lack of support for the LGBTQ+ community is detrimental to its members, and that today’s society can be stuck in a mindset of a time when there wasn’t as much circulation around accepting those in the LGBTQ+ community, some of whom are also followers of Christ.
“The pushback approach basically assumes the LGBTQ folks as political or cultural opponents in a war for the future,” Lee said. “Even with all the theological disagreements that we may have on all kinds of issues, if we’re called to do anything as Christians, it’s to love one another.”
Lee spoke about how he ultimately believes in accepting who are and being proud of yourself while also spreading love for those who may identify differently than you.
“Expressing our gender identity is a part of how God made you. This is not a burden but [it’s important] to bear this idea that you should be able to be an LGBTQ person and flourish in life and relationships,” Lee said.
Lee fully believes that through the courage of the LGBTQ+ community and the support of others, society will begin to notice a change in the way we accept those of all lifestyles.
“We want to welcome you and we want to support you on this journey,” Lee said. “As Christians who serve an empathetic God, one who suffered with us and for us, we should be a shining example in the world of what empathy looks like — anything less than that is unworthy of the name.”
Jon Singletary, dean of the Diana R. Garland School of Social Work, hopes that having Lee as a speaker was encouraging for Baylor’s LGBTQ+ students.
“Baylor as a whole has wanted to consider this question in an effort to live out our Christian mission of creating a caring community,” Singletary said. “As part of this, we wanted LGBTQ students to hear from somebody with a journey similar to their own.”
Singletary understands that Baylor promotes Christian culture and wants students to feel welcomed and loved for who they are. He hopes inviting Lee to Baylor allowed students to hear from someone who will provide knowledge and advice about how Christians can be supportive of those in the LGBTQ+ community.
“We do not have to change our theology to be more progressive in order to do so; we can have a traditional Christian view of marriage or sexuality and still offer a much more loving and caring approach to our LGBTQ students,” Singletary said.