Dan Shill graduated from Harding University in 1990, studying music, nursing, Bible, and journalism while there. Dan currently lives in Houston with his partner Jeff.
I am a bit of an unusual case, having been raised in a MUCH more liberal religious background (United Methodist), but having attended C of C schools from kindergarten through college. I knew from a very early age that I was gay, but as a Harding student, being open was NOT an option. (I nearly got expelled from HU my freshman year for even TALKING about it with the wrong person). So I did what many others have done ... I went into deep denial, trying to be what I was told God wanted. I went to therapy, I dated, and I attended church. Unfortunately, throughout all those years—both at Harding and afterwards—I knew that I was not who I was trying to be. I knew, deep down, that I was gay. I struggled and prayed, trying to get God to change me, but to no avail. Years of self-hate, depression, and (of course) clandestine meetings with men followed. I hid it well, though.
In early 1998, I came out. It was also at this time that I finally left the church entirely. (I had left the C of C a few years earlier, because I felt that I didn’t fit in there anymore.) I had gotten involved with charismatic and evangelical churches before I left.
I felt at the time that the Christian faith had let me down, and I became adamantly anti-Christian. I spent the ensuing years studying other religions, but I do still believe in a creator God today. I avoided any contact with anyone from HU for a number of years after that, for obvious reasons. I have been very gratified, though, to discover in recent years that many of those I once knew, including many I would NEVER have expected, are supportive and open in their views, and many even share my stance in support of equality.
I fully support same-sex marriage. I believe it is the right of all people to share their life with the person they love. Unlike many of my Christian friends, I have always held that marriage is primarily a secular, legal matter, and not a religious one, so I did not have to come to terms with it from a religious standpoint.