Play Opens in Walla Walla about Growing Up Adventist and Gay
By AT News Team, April 2, 2015: The staged reading of a play yesterday evening has generated a lot of talk on the campus of Walla Walla University and in the community, both among Adventists and others, reported KVEW Channel 42, the ABC television affiliate in Kennewick, Washington. The play was written by Bradley Nelson, a Walla Walla native who grew up in the Adventist faith.
For more than ten years Nelson has interviewed Adventists who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT). “These are people who are trying to figure out who they are and then trying to figure out how to live that authentic self,” Nelson told the television news program. The play tells their stories.
Nelson stated that this is an issue that a lot of people who grow up in conservative religious families have to deal with. “Because of the environment I was raised in it was so not the norm that I didn’t even think about it as being a possibility,” Nelson said in the television report. He said that as a young man his sexual identity was repressed and it was not until late in his college years that he came out to himself.
Nelson thinks that many people base their understanding of homosexuality entirely on church rules. “I think when people start to hear stories of actual people and their struggles that can help to broaden their understanding of the issue,” he said.
After the reading the play there was a question-and-answer time with Nelson as the play’s author. This has started a conversation that has spilled out widely in the small towns that make up the Walla Walla Valley in eastern Washington state, according to the television news.
“People are saying the play’s like a revolution or it’s the start of one,” the television news program quoted Caleb Atkins, an Adventist who is a student at Walla Walla University. Homosexuality is a topic that traditionally Adventists have ignored although the denomination teaches that sex outside of the marriage of a heterosexual couple is sin in God’s eyes.
Early in 2014 the denomination convened a gathering of Adventist Bible scholars, administrators and pastors from around the world in South Africa to discuss issues related to sexuality. A key theme stated there by a number of the leaders was the need for compassion and a Christ-like attitude toward LGBT people. The result has been discussions such as those now going on in Walla Walla.