The second to last Living Room series event was hosted last Friday and focused on the topic of sexual desire and stewardship. The Living Room Series came to being as a need was seen on Wheaton’s campus to open up discussions on sexuality, sexual orientation and gender identity where the Wheaton community could come to learn, and talk about various experiences regarding these topics.
The Living Room Series has been a semester-long conversation on the challenging questions and viewpoints that are brought up often on campus in regards to sexuality, LGBTQ or same sex attracted students. The opening event for this series was formatted as an open-floor conversation led by chaplain staff members Clayton Keenon and Julie Rodgers. Both Keenon and Rodgers shared their testimonies related to their work with LGBTQ and same sex attracted students with a layout of the future Friday afternoon discussions.
The Living Room Series had nine different discussions throughout the semester, each with a different themes including why this conversation matters, conviction and civility, spiritual friendship, hospitality and difference, navigating sexual identity, covenantal living and culture, marriage and celibacy, sexual desire and stewardship, and discrimination against sexual minorities. Working with the speakers and administration has been crucial for Student Government, especially in the process of organizing the event.
Attendance to these conversations has been steady and well attended by students and staff members. Student body president senior Grace Pyo said, “I think students are interested in talking about sexuality, and we saw that interest in the attendance at the events and the questions students asked.”
In the first Living Room Series talk titled, “Why this conversation matters,” many students shared how amazed and inspired they were at Julie Rodger’s sharing of her testimony and by how much love she has for Jesus, and the commitment she has in her spiritual life. Many appreciated her bravery and honesty in her testimony, stating that they learned so much from the kickoff event.
Another Living Room Series talk that attracted many students was the question and answer session that allowed many to ask questions regarding sexuality and enter into conversation. Many students shared stories of either having a friend or family member who called themselves LGBTQ and not knowing how to start conversations with them about their sexual identity and also having questions that they did not know how to ask. This question and answer session was helpful in navigating themes in sexuality and helped them enter into conversations with their friends or family members. Many attendees started off their responses with, “I learned so much…” and mentioned how glad they were that they went to the Living Room Series talks.
Reception has been mostly positive with the Living Room Series, freshman Brielle Lisa said, “From a class officer and student standpoint, I have really appreciated the Living Room series talks. I think they cover a large span of relevant topics that I personally am interested in. I have learned a lot from each of the ones I have attended.”
The main consensus from students who have attended the Living Room Series is very similar. Many were grateful for the opportunity to hear and learn about their LGBTQ brothers and sisters, topics on sexuality as it relates to LGBTQ and same sex attracted students. Pyo said, “I definitely think we were able to get some important conversations started with the Living Room Series, although we were by no means perfect and there is a lot of room for improvement in future conversations.”