[Editor's note: Please welcome our first graduate school writer to the blog!]
My name is Kate Dembinski and I am a first year Master of Divinity student at Duke Divinity School.
I grew up in small town Iowa and graduated from a public high school with 35 others. I promptly went eight hours away to Hillsdale, Michigan, where I spent the next four years studying religion (i.e. Christianity, let's be honest) and classics. I learned Latin, Greek, and Hebrew. I became a pacifist.
I discovered I was gay.
Following Christmas break of my sophomore year I began practicing an intense Sabbath. I fasted for 30 hours a week from food, technology, and school work. I truly fell in love with Jesus for the first time in my life, and as a result of intentionally carving out time to listen to God’s voice I began to hear some disruptive things.
“You’re gay,” for example.
I considered myself a fairly staunch conservative at the point of this realization, and naturally I felt as though I was trapped. I had constructed a community of like-minded folks who would not have responded warmly to the news that I counted myself a member of the full-blown homosexual ranks.
But, as Hillsdale College's motto says, virtus tentamine gaudet, strength rejoices in the challenge.
I came out to one person at Hillsdale during my time in college. My motivation for silence was selfish: I was in a conservative department within a conservative school and I needed references in order to move on with my life. In searching for seminaries I desired a place that was orthodox and that would, at the very least, not openly despise me for being who I am.
I have only felt completely validated thus far. I know I am in the right place, surrounded by the right people, learning the things I love in a place that will challenge and support me academically, spiritually, and communally.
I cannot say that Duke Divinity is correct for all gay people, just as I cannot say that Hillsdale College is right for all conservative folks. For me, though, I am infinitely thankful (and dare I say blessed) to be at Duke. I've gotten to meet some wonderful people through the LGBT center, local churches, and (naturally) the divinity school.
Thank you for this opportunity, BDU. Y'all are lovely. (See, us northerners can appreciate the you plural also.)