Photo Courtesy of Tyler Heston

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Brite Divinity School continues to promote justice, scholarship and practice by proclaiming pride for those who identify with the LGBTQIA+ community and allies.

This past week, Brite faculty and students participated in a worship service called Proclaiming Pride and in a march as part of the Tarrant County Gay Pride Week.

“This is a place where students are equipping themselves to be justice makers, but also to create bridges and community and context for having genuine conversation,” said Dr. Valerie Forstman, the divinity school’s assistant dean of common life.

Tyler Heston, a third-year graduate student studying ministry, is one of many divinity school students who identifies with the community as an openly gay man and a Christian.

“This issue is close to our hearts because it’s close to our story of who we are,” he said.

Heston was not always open about his own sexuality and struggled with embracing his sexual identity and faith by hiding it from the church.

“It really was a huge turning point in my own faith walk,” he said. “So when I look back at the ways that I see God working in my life, I see God working in my own embrace of my sexuality and I believe God can do the same in other people’s lives.”

Forstman often hears this same narrative from prospective students who are deeply impacted by the judgment and unacceptance of the church.

“I see people who’ve experienced that and who come with wounds and then something happened to make them realize, ‘No, I am beloved of God and there is a place for me in ministry and because of my experience, my voice is all the more needed,’” she said.

Though the divinity school has created a safe space for allies and the community, Heston said he is aware it is not the same for others to openly proclaim their sexuality.

“I think the louder we proclaim our pride, the more people will see they can follow suit,” he said. “The proclamation is both a celebration and a call to action.”