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Student op-ed: Ex-gay Christian speaker ‘threatened’ LGBT students

Speaker preached ‘a dangerous homophobic sermon for over an hour,’ according to student

An appearance at Harvard university by a noted ex-gay Christian activist caused one student writer to decry the “homophobic” presentation, claiming that the speaker was “dangerous” and “threatened the emotional and physical safety of LGBT people.”

Last week, the student group Harvard College Faith & Action hosted the ex-gay Christian speaker Jackie Hill-Perry to campus, a decision that prompted the editorial board of the The Harvard Crimson to accuse the group of “[giving] a platform to homophobia, conversion therapy, and hate.”

In today’s edition of The Crimson, Harvard junior Matthew Keating echoes this condemnation, calling Hill-Perry’s rhetoric “horrifying.”

“By hosting the event—in spite of numerous calls and petitions for it to be cancelled—HCFA was complicit in promoting dangerous homophobic rhetoric that threatened the emotional and physical safety of LGBT people here on campus,” Keating wrote. N”o matter how many seats were reserved for protestors, no matter how much the student leaders attempted to qualify their message as loving and inclusive, HCFA still gave this woman a platform to preach a dangerous homophobic sermon for over an hour.”

Pointing out that Hill-Perry has “no formal divinity training,” Keating writes of being horrified at “seeing a room full of my fellow classmates nod their heads and snap their fingers in agreement to numerous parts of her sermon.”

“I watched as kids I know from section, midterm review groups, or the dining hall scream ‘Amen!’ as Hill-Perry described gay people as ‘broken’,” Keating writes.

Keating claims that “queer people at Harvard have always known that this school is not perfect when it comes to fully welcoming LGBT students on campus,” citing the case of former Dean of the College Chester Greenough’s attempts to expel students accused of homosexuality. “To this day, we have a freshman dormitory named in his honor,” Keating writes.

There are no reports of Hill-Perry calling for the expulsion of gay Harvard students.

From the article:

I’ve sat in section while a straight man explained to me that if I spoke with a lower-pitched voice it would help with my upcoming in-class presentation grade as more people would take me seriously. I’ve walked along Mt. Auburn Street on countless late nights and watched as boys in tuxedos laughingly call each other faggots. And last Friday, after leaving the event, I comforted a freshman crying on the steps of Emerson Hall who was distraught at having to choose between their religion and coming out publicly.

This is not the Harvard I signed up for. To HCFA: What was the point of bringing a speaker that emotionally traumatized your fellow classmates? Do you consider students crying in the Yard a successful outcome of your “respectful dialogue”?

To those in that room snapping your fingers in agreement with Hill-Perry’s sermon: Will you look me in the eyes and tell me that I am perverted and “broken”? That my identity—one that is so crucial to who I am—is merely just a grouping of immoral desires that I need to “deny” for the rest of my life?

To non-LGBT Harvard students: What are you doing to call out dangerous trans- and homophobic rhetoric when you see or hear it on campus? We are your friends, your classmates, and your peers. This is so much more than pushing back on a problematic comment in section—we need you to show up.

“One recent morning, I woke up to an email from the Admissions Office asking me to call accepted LGBT students in the Class of 2022 and encourage them to enroll,” Keating says. “I want to be able to do that to make that sell, to say this school is a safe and welcoming space for queer people. But there is so much more work to be done before I would pick up that phone.”

Read the whole piece here.

MORE: Student paper accuses Harvard Christian group of ‘homophobia’ and ‘hate’

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