Seattle Pacific University students and faculty came out to Interim President Pete Menjares by posting signs of their own stories around campus on Oct. 11.
The signs, addressed to Menjares, featured the stories of anonymous members of the SPU community describing their coming out experiences and opinions on LGBTQIA+ discussions being debated on campus.
All of the signs featured similar formats at the top reading along the lines of “Dear Dr. Menjares, I’m coming out to you…” and could be found in the windows and doorways of multiple buildings around campus.
“Dear Dr. Menjares, I’m coming out to you…” A sign on the door of Common Grounds read. “I am bisexual… it took me longer than I care to admit to be able to say those words to myself and to others. My sexuality is a small part of what God made me to become, but it is an important part of who I am, and how I love, understand, and build and hold relationships with others. -SPU Faculty”
A sign on the door of Ames Library featured a message from an SPU student.
“Dear Dr. Menjares, I’m coming out… It was difficult to come out because my parents are Catholic and the first time I came out to my mom, she cried and kept on telling me that I was unnatural. My dad tried to kick me out, so I kind of went back in the closet at home. -SPU Student,” the sign read.
Second year psychology major Cara Hiroyasu believes the messages were impactful and worth a read.
“I think that all the signs around campus are a really powerful message. Especially just the fact that people took the time to put up the signs. I think everyone should read them because obviously they’re really personal and impactful messages,” Hiroyasu said.
Second year nursing major Ana Garcia is grateful for those who shared their stories.
“I enjoyed reading people’s stories and it made me very happy that they were willing to share their stories despite the hate. I believe that everyone should have a safe space, especially here at SPU,” Garcia said. “My heart aches to know that they even have to fight for safe space in a community that’s supposed to be loving and welcoming. God created us to love everyone as ourselves and I think that is something many people forget. While I am not part of the LGBTQ+ community I stand with them and want to do anything I can to create a safe space for them and everyone.”
Along with the hope for change on campus, students like senior nursing major Liberty White hope the SPU community can engage in productive conversations.
“After reading the signs I was left not knowing how to feel about the situation,” White said. “I think in times like these my hope is that we are all having kind, thoughtful, and intentional loving conversations surrounding our disagreements. I also have to remind myself God is so much bigger than all the confusion.”
Director of Public Information Tracy Norlen shared Menjares’ desire to continue conversations on LGBTIQA+ issues on campus.
“President Menjares is aware of the signs posted around campus on Monday morning, and is committed to continuing the conversations around LGBTQIA+ topics with mutual respect and two-way conversations,” Norlen said.
As discussions around this issue continue on campus, second year apparel merchandising major Stephanie Menegon is glad the SPU community is willing to continue voicing their beliefs.
“It’s good to see students aren’t backing down and are holding onto their beliefs,” Menegon said.