South Dakota College Student's Open Letter to the Church About Marriage Equality Goes Viral

Dannika Nash, a junior at the University of Sioux Falls in South Dakota, started blogging two months ago. On April 7th, after attending a Macklemore concert, she published her third post, “An Open Letter to the Church from My Generation,” and got 2,377 more comments than she expected. The letter has since gained national attention and has been reposted to dozens of websites.

At his concert, Macklemore sang his marriage equality anthem, “Same Love,” a song that has encouraged advocates and allies across the country since it was first released in July of 2012. In her letter, Nash explains her anxiety as Macklemore began to sing: “I held my breath in anticipation of some kind of uproar or walk-out…but the crowd cheered louder than they had yet. In our red state, in our conservative little city, the 5,000 young people in that arena wanted to hear about marriage equality.”

During the song, people raised their hands, sang along, closed their eyes, and cried. The whole thing, she says, “reminded me of church. We were thirsty for those words. We want to hear about equality and love in a gentle way.”

The letter, addressed simply to “Church”, outlines why Nash--and the 70% of 23-30-year-olds who have defected from their religious upbringings--is dissatisfied by the stance against marriage equality that she sees the Christian church taking in her state of South Dakota. Nash says that she happily would stand alongside the church if it fought against things that truly matter: injustice, poverty, violence against women. “But my generation,” she says, “the generation that can smell bullshit, especially holy bullshit, from a mile away, will not stick around to see the church fight gay marriage against our better judgment.”

The letter is signed, “A College Kid Who Misses You.” Nash is studying English and theology.

Nash’s blog post was not only widely shared and praised, but has also come at some personal cost. Since the letter was published, Nash has been fired from her summer job as a camp counselor. “I just cried in public,” she told the Sioux Falls Business Journal about hearing the news. “People probably thought (my boyfriend) was breaking up with me. The place and the people are really, really important to me, and even though I knew I was risking that a bit with the blog post, it hurt to have it taken away.”

While she has had several job offers from other Christian camps, and from LGBT reconciliation organizations, Nash has yet to decide what she will do.

Nash, a straight ally, said that she will remain resolutely committed to marriage equality no matter the consequences.

GLAAD stands by Nash, and affirms the need for religious acceptance of LGBT persons. “We want to stay in your churches,” she concludes. “We want to hear about your Jesus, but it’s hard to hear about love from a God who doesn’t love our gay friends (and we all have gay friends). Help us find love in the church before we look for it outside.”