Here are some of the big ways I feel the LGBT panelists performed well.
1) ANSWERS. The panel was on message. The panelists read the questions and sincerely tried to answer them in a straightforward manner. That said, the panelists were decently concise, but without leaving out so much detail as to be vague. This avoidance of verbosity and meandering thoughts permitted the panel to drive one or two single points home to the audience. While given a total of 45 minutes each, in the end the LGBT panel didn’t come close to using up their allotted time.
2) APOLOGIES. The Cru panelists, on their second question, went person-by-person explaining their sins relating to relating to LGBT people. They also apologized on behalf of all Christians for the sins propagated against gays and the LGBT community at large. The LGBT panelists could have been unforgiving, rejecting the Cru panelists’ apologies for their past actions. While I believe that repenting should be done directly to the person against whom the sin was perpetrated, and that the forgiveness should be done directly by the person who was aggrieved, it was proper and civil for the panelists to acknowledge the apologies and validate the Cru panelists in their sincerity. But what the LGBT panel did next was absolutely amazing: they said that Cru, for all its sincerity, does not have the ability or right to properly apologize for all Christians and for all of their sins perpetrated. It’s not that they didn’t want to accept it; rather, such an apology did not have meaning that could be accepted. So the LGBT panelists were spot on in appreciating the personal apologies, but realizing that the blanket apology was not Cru’s to offer nor theirs to accept.
3) LANGUAGE. During the question and answer session, there were questions which were quite likely to have come from people who were not familiar with acceptable language in the gay community. We know this because of the use of no longer accepted language that was used. The first instance brought forth was the incessant use of the word “homosexual” to refer to gay people. One of the panelists pointed this out, saying that “gay” or “queer” were more acceptable terms. [As an aside: the LGBT panelist was onto the right answer, but not quite there. “Queer” is actually not an acceptable alternative, except in certain LGBT-only circles. Instead, look to the Associated Press (AP) Stylebook. This guide to acceptable printed language now states that “gay” is preferable to “homosexual” … “except in clinical contexts or reference to sexual activity.” This is a codification of the discomfort that the panelist was feeling when hearing the word “homosexual” used in lieu of “gay”.] Almost immediately, the phrase “homosexual lifestyle” was used in back-to-back questions before being edited out. This phrase is incredibly hurtful and inaccurate to use when speaking about the LGBT community, and I am glad this was pointed out by a different panelist. [Aside: The AP Stylebook also states “avoid references … to a gay or alternative lifestyle.”] This discussion hopefully brought down some of these language barriers!