Solidarity exists through transparent conversations
NakID Ministries provides a safe community for students seeking open discussion on sexuality and faith. | Photo courtesy of Joseph Olvera
Junior psychology major Baylee Acosta used to question how Christianity and sexuality correlate. Acosta identifies as LGBTQ, and when she came into Biola two years ago as a freshman, she felt isolated and lonely. Acosta expressed how terrified she felt about opening up to fellow Christians and said NakID Ministries was a support for her when it came to opening up to her family and friends.
“As far as I’ve known my whole life, I was just this anomaly,” Acosta said. “NakID was there to support me — the community in it – reminding me that my identity is ultimately in Christ, was super helpful.”
NakID Ministries was founded in 2013 by two Biola alumni, Atticus Shires and Shae Davis, after recognizing the need for a ministry that encouraged discussions about sexual identity. Although NakID Ministries began at Biola, it is not an official Biola club or ministry because their mission statement does not align with the university’s. However, Shires and Davis focused on allowing the ministry to be a place for students to come out of shame and darkness and find their identity in Christ.
A Safe Place
With their motto, “Loving God Through Loving His People,” NakID is a safe place for LGBTQ students to be supported and encouraged for who they are. It also serves as a way to spread awareness and encourage other students to learn about and love their LGBTQ peers.
“As Christians we are often shamed for our sexuality,” Shires said. “If Jesus was fully human, then why aren’t we concerned with our humanity and what it means to live out our human nature?”
The ministry’s title portrays both vulnerability and identity, stemming from Genesis 3:10 when Adam and Eve hid from God because of their nakedness.
“We came up with NakID which is spelled with an ‘i’ instead of an ‘e’ and has ‘ID’ at the end — having to do with identity,” Shires said. “And then naked comes from Genesis chapters one through three where the vulnerable, naked self was the ideal — being seen totally unblanketed and vulnerable by God and by others.”
When Acosta heard about NakID, she got involved and began to feel more connected as a student at Biola. She also had support and gained the courage to open up to her friends and family about her sexuality.
“NakID finally gave me the support that I needed,” Acosta said. “When I came to NakID two years ago, I thought I knew what I believed…The last two years have been a journey for me in ‘what do I really believe?’”
Through the ministry, Acosta got to know other people in the LGBTQ community and felt accepted. Because of her continued involvement, she was asked to run NakID as its president after Shires graduated. Acosta agreed to take over NakID during the fall of 2014, despite the organization being fairly new, and asked junior art major Kira Bester to be her co-leader.
“We want NakID to be a place where people from any view feel welcome and comfortable coming,” Acosta said. “Not just, ‘oh you have to be side B’ or ‘if you don’t agree with Biola’s stance or the traditional view, you’re not welcome.’ We never want that.”
Acosta also said quite a bit has changed since the club first started due to different group dynamics over the years. Starting this year, Acosta has focused on working with other student leaders and student development with the help of the associate dean of students, Matthew Hooper.
“Because I care deeply for students who are navigating minority sexual realities... [I want to] help provide spaces for these students to be encouraged and supported — or to get what they need to succeed while they’re here,” Hooper said.
NakID and Thrive ministries approached Hooper two years ago and asked him to help facilitate their “URNot Alone” campaign. This event was a panel discussion about what Christians do with unmet sexual desires and how that affects spiritual formation.
“The heart behind it was to help,” Hooper said. “I’m seeking to be an advocate for support and care.”
NakID is not only a place where members of the LGBTQ community can feel loved and love on others, studying the Bible also plays a big role. They have a Bible study called ‘Redeemed’ that is run by junior art major Alex Sarina and junior bioscience major Tyler Franco.
“It is a place to step out of shame, step out of fear and really just live life with other students so they can feel safe too,” Sarina said.
Although NakID is not supported by Biola, the university recently allowed the Bible study to reserve a room on campus — more information for this can be found on their website. Held every Thursday, the leaders work to make each night enjoyable for attendees. Previous activities include prayer nights, devotion nights and even art nights.
“It is a way for people to introduce each other and feel comfortable,” Sarina said. “Art is a very vulnerable thing, which is a precursor to some of the vulnerable conversations.”
This year, the ministry partnered with the “Do Something Club” to celebrate Spirit Day on Oct. 15. Spirit Day is a nation-wide event that gave the opportunity for individuals to show their support against bullying by wearing purple.
Acosta plans to have NakID Ministries participate in more events in the future to continue to educate others and spread awareness. NakID’s mission “seeks to empower students and adults in education and understanding in order to better love those who identify as LGBTQ.”
“Assumptions are hurtful to students,” Acosta said. “NakID seeks to display Christ’s love through our relationships with others, regardless of differences and disagreements.”