LGBTQIA+ joy and frustration

Students gather to celebrate identity, protest policy

Audrey Oscarson and Vy Khanh Vu

Reena Sidhu wears a rainbow flag as a cape. (Vy Khanh Vu)

Seattle Pacific University students gathered at Tiffany Loop on May 17 to connect with the LGBTQIA+ community and urge the Board of Trustees to change or remove the controversial statement on human sexuality and lifestyle expectations. 

As a member of the LGBTQIA+ community, first-year ecology major Elena Elzinga acknowledged the work of the community in pushing back the discriminatory policies and faculty support.

“It’s the community that I’ve seen to get the work done,” Elzinga said. “It’s frustrating that [the board members] aren’t supporting us, but still, I’ve seen a lot of professors show their support. So, only the Board is still frustrating. I believe we can make change because a lot of students here are supporting that change.”

A Carter, whose partner attends SPU, attended the protest because they believe that the school is not acting the way they should.

“Christianity is meant to be about unconditional love for everyone, no matter what the issue is, no matter what the background is,” Carter said.

One of SPU’s founder’s descendants, Senior Emma Wick, is double majoring in communication and social justice and culture studies. She was at the protests and believes the university is not heading in the right direction.

“As his descendant, I say strike down the statement and disaffiliate,” Wick said. “I think it’s super funny how the university wants to hold onto these traditions, but the current student body, including me, one of the direct descendants of the founders of the university, do not give a shit about the current policies, and we demand that the statement gets stripped out and that we disaffiliate from the Free Methodist Church for being homophobic and not understanding the reality of our modern world.”

SPU student Bennett Bennett attended May 17th’s protest in Tiffany Loop wearing a pride flag as a cape with the words “and Christian” on the back, symbolizing that you can be both queer and Christian.(Shianne Heeraman)

First year ecology major Natalie Dueck was frustrated with the First Free Methodist Church’s potential decision to expel Seattle Pacific University from the church.

“We come to support my fellow queer folks and protest for the decision of the Board,” Dueck said. “I’m happy with the progress that the work group did, but the First Free Methodist Church’s decision was really upsetting. It is frustrating as if like a punch in the face.”

Reena Sidhu, a third year nursing major, was one of the organizers for the protest.

“The point of this protest practically is, one – to celebrate joy for all queer students, staff, and faculty on this campus because we don’t get to have a lot of spaces together,” Sidhu said. “Another reason is the Board of Trustees meeting is at the end of this week, and we would like to just showcase that the community really does care.”

Kelly Sanchez, a first year exercise science major, hoped the protest will change the Board’s decision.

“I’m happy that so many people came here today to support and to write signs, so colorful. I hope that the Board can see this and see how much support can happen within the Christian community,” Sanchez said.

Sanchez is also a part of the LGBTQ+ community, and they believe it is important for students to feel safe on campus. 

“I want other students to feel comfortable enough to be able to say who they are and not fear of discrimination,” Sanchez said.