David Diachenko is a Bob Jones graduate and a former faculty member at the university.
Diachenko is also gay, and didn't come to terms with his sexuality until he left the Greenville-based Christian college. And he said the messages he keeps getting from BJU students and alumni since he left is heartbreaking, and mirrored his own experience "coming out" as a gay man.
"The common theme was, 'I felt alone, I didn't have any resources, I knew when I came out that I was going to lose family, friends, kicked out of the university,' so we made an organization that would assist those people," Diachenko said.
That organization is known as BJUnity. It's a group set up by alumni of Bob Jones University, and was formed earlier this year.
This weekend, they'll be getting high visibility - with more than 30 gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered students and alumni, and their heterosexual allies - marching in a gay pride parade in New York City.
BJUnity said they're open to appearing in South Carolina LGBT pride events in the future, but that the appearance at this weekend's pride event in New York was based on alumni living in New York, and for the visibility it provides for a group that's just getting off the ground.
Speaking directly about the students, Diachenko said, "We want to give them resources and the visibility so they have something to go toward."
BJUnity is also petitioning the university's chancellor, Bob Jones III, to apologize for comments he allegedly made more than 30 years ago. The group claimed that in 1980, Jones said that homosexuals should be stoned. As of Wednesday evening, they had received more than 1,100 signatures.
For its part, Bob Jones University released this statement about BJUnity and their efforts:
"Bob Jones University recognizes the right of alumni to organize and support the LGBT agenda and LGBT events. We trust they will respect our right to exercise our belief in the absolute authority of God's word.
"At Bob Jones University, we accept scripture as the Christian's authority for life and belief, and therefore, its teachings are the basis for our policies. When it comes to the matter of sexual expression, the Bible speaks with a clarity and consistency that spans both Old and New Testaments. The Bible advances a monogamous heterosexual marriage relationship as God's intention from the beginning.
Read the entire statement from the University here.
Diachenko said Bob Jones University has a very narrow interpretation of the Bible, but he doesn't dismiss it.
"They have the right to their interpretation of the Bible, they have the right to their beliefs, and we don't dispute that." said Diachenko. "However, theirs is not the only interpretation that's out there among good people."
BJUnity said the group hopes to reach out to other fundamentalist colleges and provide support for LGBT students.
Copyright 2012 FOX Carolina (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
Sunday, August 31 2014 3:28 PM EDT2014-08-31 19:28:29 GMT
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