Modern Dance student and Mississippi native Alonzo Emmanuel Thompson, Jr. came to the Brown-Lupton University Union auditorium Tuesday to hear Dr. Tony Campolo, and his wife Peggy, debate the place of homosexuality in Christianity.
Openly gay, Thompson said he was originally in disbelief when he learned the university would hold such an event.
“I had to show my face and see what was going on,” the sophomore said.
Tony Campolo, a celebrated writer, sociologist, pastor and the former spiritual advisor for President Bill Clinton, is a self-proclaimed “Red Letter Christian,” who said he doesn’t believe God approves of homosexual acts. He does, however, believe in their rights as individuals and is sympathetic to their plight.
“And though I take a conservative position on the issue of gay marriage,” he said, “my heart breaks over the fact that so many young men and women commit suicide over this issue.”
On the other hand, Peggy Campolo openly supports gay marriage, and pointed out passages from the Bible she believes may have been misinterpreted by the church.
During a post-lecture question and answer session, Thompson opened up about his personal struggle.
“I’m a very open student here on campus. When I go home, back to Mississippi, I have to be hush. It’s just me and my mom, and she thinks I’m embarrassing her, and she hates to tell people I’m her son, even in public places. And that hurts me on every level.”
As an only child who has known discrimination from a young age, Alonzo said he hopes to strengthen his relationship with his mother. “I’ve learned to put that hurt aside,” he said. “That doesn’t make me hate her, because that’s my mom. There’s some things in the world she can’t understand now. But maybe in the future.”
The Campolos’ advice?
“Wait and pray,” Tony Campolo said. “That sounds like a simplistic answer, but it’s not simplistic, I assure you.”
Peggy Campolo agreed with that sentiment.
After the lecture, Thompson took the time to meet with other guests who were moved by his story.
“There was an emotional experience to where I felt affirmed, welcomed and loved,” he said.