Churches cross social barrier for LGBT community

Trinity Episcopal

The church has long had an uneasy past with the LGBT community filled with controversy and turmoil, but the sentiments the groups have towards each other may be starting to change.

The Student Alliance for Equality has a very active gay community, said Jay Liles, president of SAFE. The majority of the members also identify themselves as a person of faith in a particular religion, he said.

Liles, who identifies as gay and Christian, said he recalls life while coming out to his friends and family at a time heavily centered around the church, and has since remained faithful.

Stories like this are not uncommon among other gay men and women, yet still some feel pushed away from the church by the actions of a few individuals, Liles said.

When senior Mac Pylant began telling people he was gay, the reaction from some individuals came with abuse, he said.

“When I came out I remember being literally hit with a Bible by someone trying to pray the gay out of me,” he said.

Pylant said the closed-mindedness of people within the church turned him away from it.

“But (being gay) is one of the things that will always be a part of me and sometimes people just won’t understand that,” he said. “That is one of the reasons that turned me off of going to church.”

There are some denominations within Christianity that are becoming more acclimated to differing sexual orientations.

While the Episcopal C hurch is on the forefront of the inclusion of LGBT members nationally, it varies by region, said Callie Plunket-Brewton, associate rector at Trinity Episcopal Church in Florence.

“The church is very accepting and welcoming of everyone, including those in the gay community,” Plunket-Brewton said. “All people are equal in the eyes of the Lord and should feel welcomed to worship together.”

Although support is growing for the gay community, few believe being gay fits within the Christian doctrine.

“I know this is unpopular, but I believe (being gay) is a sin,” said senior Ashley White. “I also believe all sin is equal, so just in the way I sin and I need worship, the gay community needs worship. So, if that desire to worship is there — then worship. Worship does bring forth change.”