Benino Regino was student body president at North Central between 2011 and 2012. He was an intercultural studies major. He is the founder of Encounter, a student-led ministry which allows North Central students to connect to the people of Minneapolis—a ministry that is still active today. Regino is also an openly gay man.
Regino grew up in the Assemblies of God at Emmanuel Christian Center. He was a part of their ministry team for eight years. He now attends an Episcopal church due to their affirmation of LGBTQIA+ people and relationships.
During the 2010 student body president elections, Regino ran as vice president to Chantel Guajardo.
Chantel had been accepted to Oral Roberts University and two weeks before classes began, told Regino she was leaving North Central. Benino became the student body president—the first ever to take the office in this way.
Leading a very popular Facebook page that allowed the student body to interact with the student government directly, Regino made it a point to memorize the name of every student on campus.
During his presidency, Regino engaged in reparative therapy, a form of treatment which is based on the view that homosexuality is unnatural and can be changed. Regino spoke with multiple pastoral counselors and spent evenings crying at the altar during Praise Gathering.
“What I didn’t notice is how much that that type of life experience was elevated as sin above anything else,” Regino said. “We preach ‘sin is a sin’ but there’s always this tiered level of what’s a worse sin than the others. Being gay was always at the top of that list.”
Several years after graduation, Regino accepted himself as gay and left the Assemblies of God. He began seeing a professional psychotherapist which was God-send, he said.
“It was really hard because of how much self-induced shame and embarrassment I felt every day,” Regino said.
Since leaving North Central, Regino has discovered a broader community of LGBTQIA+ people who come from evangelical and contemporary church backgrounds and still love Jesus and identify with the many ways they did church. They still believe in the transformative and restorative power of Christ despite being openly gay. Regino has found a good deal of these new friends in the Q Christian Network, an organization that meets nationwide at various events to connect, encourage each other and worship together.
Regino said his ministry is to all the people who are on the same journey as him, who have a deep love for Jesus and reverence for God’s word and how it speaks to us in the 21st century and how the Spirit is still moving. He is now the coordinator of both young adults and LGBTQIA+ ministries at his church.
“I pray for students who feel ashamed and hidden in their churches, in their education [system] and in their family,” Regino said. “I pray they would remember they are one piece of this diverse and expansive global church and that we would all truly learn how to love without judgement [and] recognize God’s work in each other and see it as real and genuine.”
NOTE*** This article was originally published by North Central University’s Student-led newspaper but unfortunately removed due to the controversial nature. A huge and special thanks to Blake Roberts who wrote and put this article into something beautiful. It is truly because of him that this story lives on and is touching the lives of so many people, especially in corners of the country where it is unpopular and dangerous to be LGBT.
Blake shares, “It was an honor to interview Benino for this Article. I want all of you to know that no matter what, you are seen, you are important and you are loved…just as you are.”