A Brief Introduction

Endeavoring to define myself outside of a "job title." I'm a nomad of sorts who fell in love with technology, activism, and helping others. I run a web & media consulting firm, have a blog specifically for activists & non-profits, and travel often. I love talking about theology, politics, and social change. I love doing something about it even more. I also like to be a well-rounded and fully present person. That's why I write here. Connect with me on twitter

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Conversations in the Latter Days: Our time at Brigham Young University Idaho

BYU-Idaho, like BYU in Provo, refused to let us on to campus. We were still able to have a highly successful day in Rexburg nonetheless. There is a public road that goes into campus which we were able to be on. We stood in vigil outside of the campus, holding pictures of our families--a fundamental part of the LDS faith, yet something that is being torn apart by school policy and church doctrine regarding LGBT people.

Throughout the day we had riders standing at the intersection, greeting students as they went to and from the dorms and their classes. Despite harsh letters from the administrators, there were still students willing to stop and talk with us. In fact, many came out specifically to talk to us. To me, this demonstrates an immense bravery on the part of the students. They are so thirsty for this conversation that they are willing to risk disciplinary action from the administration (who had posted security guards to watch who was talking to us). One of them walked past the vigil line and said, "Hello Jillian, how are you today?" It was a very surreal day.

I found that many of these students simply had not stopped to consider what they had been taught about sexual orientation and gender identity. I know that many people walked away with "lots to think about." I was among them. I learned even more about the LDS faith than I had from Emil, Mike, and Matt thus far. And I really learned to examine what I believe in and why. I learned to listen. And I got to meet dozens of new people.

Among the students who stopped to talk with us were some wrestling with their sexual orientation or gender identity. For their protection, I won't describe the conversation other than to say it is unfortunate that these students must continue to suffer in silence within the walls of their institution. I am thankful for every conversation I had. And I am hopeful that other GLBT students felt affirmed simply by our presence, even if they could not bring themselves to talk with us.

Today we decided not to return to campus in light of the events at Virginia Tech. We wanted to process and mourn amongst ourselves and allow BYU-ID to do the same. As I walked to the local grocery store with a few other riders, we went past The Backyard--a restaurant near our hotel. We heard someone say "Are you with Soulforce?" We looked and found an employee who was walking in to the building. We said yes and she literally jumped for joy, screamed, and gave me a big hug. She tried to meet up with us yesterday she said, but couldn't find us. We told her about the picnic at Porter's park tonight at 5:00pm and she's going to come!

Six weeks into the ride, I would think that I would stop having "Wow, that just made this all worth it" moments. But I still have them. This trip has been worth it so many times over already, and I'm sure with our upcoming stops we will continue to impact even more lives.

And now it's time for me to leave for the park!

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