Last night, I attended an event at Murray State University centered around desserts and conversation. I sat at a table that could host eight, though there were only six of us at our table. The event’s purpose was to foster dialogue regarding the violence perpetrated against LGBT people as well as those of minority ethnicities. While the event seemed to focus more on LGBT persecution, some rhetoric was present for any violence and was not limited to the LGBT community.
However, copies of a stat sheet were placed on each table that had been compiled by the FBI from 2013. The sheet stated that 1,402 hate-crime offenses had been committed. They were broken down as follows—
- 60% were classified as anti-gay (male) bias.
- 22% were prompted by an anti-lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (mixed group) bias.
- 13% were classified as anti-lesbian prejudice.
- 1.9% were anti-bisexual bias.
- 1.7% were anti-heterosexual bias.
One of the women at the table told the story of how she, a friend, and another guy were walking through campus one evening. They passed another young man who then turned to pursuing them. As this other young man reached them, he intended to shove her male friend, whom she stated was a homosexual, down the stairs until she intervened. The reason the other male was going to push the homosexual male down the stairs was that he believed the homosexual male winked at him. She confessed that this was a frightening experience and that her male friend, the homosexual, had not winked at the other guy.
We were encouraged to share what prompted us to attend the meeting. I confessed that I wanted to visit because—and I stated that I was the preacher of a congregation whose views were traditional and conservative—I wanted a dialogue. I told them that I wanted LGBT people to know that despite our disagreeing values, that we do not wish them any harm or ill will. Moreover, I also told our table, some of whom were homosexual and others who were heterosexual, that I believed that we could dialogue, disagree, and still coexist in peace. I also stated that I wanted to hear the LGBT perspective as well as share ours and that despite our differences, that I condoned no violence against another human because they were different in this or any other way.
One of the women’s initial body language seemed bothered at this revelation of myself and my views, but I persisted in attempting to be as kind as I could with my cards on the table. Everyone listened cordially to one another. At the conclusion, we spoke a while and exchanged pleasant farewells. I only wish that we could have talked more, and at a greater length because I feel like we didn’t even hit the tip of the iceberg. Nevertheless, it was interesting to have the conversation, and I hope that more can be done to foster a cordiality between conservative people of faith, like myself, and those with whom we disagree and who do not agree with us. Violence is never the answer to such differences, and I hope that, at least, I represented my Lord and His church well.