LGBTQ student groups at Catholic colleges form pro-equality association

Today the leaders of several lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) student groups based on Catholic college campuses sent a … Continued

Today the leaders of several lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) student groups based on Catholic college campuses sent a joint letter to the Catholic world announcing the founding of CASE, the Catholic Association of Students for Equality. CASE is a national network for all of our groups to share resources and to trade experiences. CASE’s central goal, however, is to raise awareness of the positive impact that recognition and empowerment of the LGBT community has had on our campuses. Our experiences reveal a pro-LGBT rights position grounded in Catholic values. In other words, we hope to “out” a uniquely Catholic argument for LGBT inclusion.

We chose Oct. 11 as the launch day because it is the 25th annual “National Coming Out Day.” It is a day when we, in the LGBT community, both celebrate public identification with queer identities and encourage those in “the closet” to “come out” and join us. Coming out stories are as diverse as the community to which we belong. That said, there is one thing that all stories share in common, the profound pain that one experiences while in the closet. It is a condition where you deny who you are; it is a state of constant fear and doubt; it is a place where you are alone and in turmoil.

I was lucky to have had enough love and support to come out years ago. However, despite being out and proud, nationally I feel that as a gay Catholic my views are “in the closet” because they are absent from the Catholic conversation. My Irish and Italian (and predictably, very Catholic) parents not only accepted my sexual orientation, but came to love the role it has played in my life. I attend Georgetown University, a place where I have helped organize “Drag Balls” and later conversed about these spectacles with the priest who lived on my floor. In these environments, I rarely felt like my Catholic and gay identities were necessarily at odds. If anything, I felt that they complemented one another.

As a practicing Catholic, someone who delivers a rehearsed response to “What’s that black stuff on your forehead?” every Lenten season, I was raised surrounded by Catholic social teaching. I value the life and dignity of every human person, and I believe their dignity comes from “the persons they are” (Centesimus annus., #11). I know that we are called to stand in solidarity with those who are suffering (Corinthians 12:12-26). And finally, I believe that we have a duty to love, and that it is the “fundamental and innate vocation of every human being.” (Catechism 2392).

These building blocks of Catholic social teaching are integral parts of how I have engaged my LGBT identity. Identifying as gay first required me to reflect on who I truly was. It helps me stand in solidarity with those who are oppressed, as I have faced threats in the street, and taunts from schoolmates. And one day, I will be able to love someone because I have acknowledged who it is I can really fall in love with.

On campus, GU Pride (Georgetown’s LGBT student group) has provided forums for others to explore their identities in the same way I have, whether they be Muslim, Buddhist or atheist. But the effects of recognition go even further. Five years ago, some LGBT students were beaten, and others verbally assaulted, all on the campus they had learned to call home. However, GU Pride (which had been a recognized student group since 1988 as the result of a Supreme Court decision, Gay Rights Coalition v. Georgetown University), along with other student groups, protested the status of campus culture, and as a result the university opened an LGBTQ resource center. Since then, anti-LGBT violence has declined drastically, which is emblematic of how campus culture has been transformed.

Today, Georgetown along with the other colleges that recognize their LGBT groups, including Loyola University Maryland, DePaul University and Loyola Marymount are in a privileged position. We live on campuses that acknowledge the value in exploring the intersection of LGBT and Catholic identities. We have a duty to “out” all the good that we have done in order to change the national conversation. We need to change the minds of those in the church who would argue that LGBT groups have no place on Catholic campuses and to encourage those in schools affected by this position to “come out” and to start forming their own LGBT network on campus. We can help promote the respect you deserve, we will stand in solidarity with you, and want to help people understand our love. That is why we formed CASE.

Thomas A. Lloyd, CASE founder, is a Georgetown University student, class of 2015.

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  • Apoorsinner

    The Catholic Church says yes to the worth of every individual, yes to gays, but no to sex outside of marriage and no to gay marriage, for many reasons I think you probably know if you are a practicing Catholic. If you think you’re going to change that, you are mistaken.

  • TALloyd122

    The goal of CASE isn’t doctrinal change. It is two other things entirely. The first, is networking in order to support existing or forming LGBT campus groups. These groups are critical to reduce violence, increase acceptance, and to promote valuing the whole person and solidarity. The second is awareness. Our experiences refute the idea that LGBT and Catholic identities aren’t compatible, they also speak to what respecting the value of LGBT people really means. The official position of the Church may state that they respect the LGBT, and in my experience, I have felt respected. That said, there isn’t a shortage of messages that have come out of the hierarchy that are negative and frankly, disrespectful. CASE gives our groups a forum to discuss these incidents, and to reach out to those who feel excluded because of them.

  • vtavgjoe

    Bravo, Mr. Lloyd for rising above the bumper sticker slogans and opening up a civilized conversation. This is another case where the sheep may be wiser than the shepherds. Keep up the good work.

  • XVIIHailSkins

    It tickles me that some Catholics act as if the doctrine and traditions of their church exist in some historical vacuum where they are impervious to change. A man named Galileo once lived out his days under house arrest for presenting his heliocentric theory to the pope. Now the fact that the planets orbit the sun is Catholic dogma. Your church is extremely malleable.

  • Marianne Duddy-Burke, DignityUSA

    Congratulations to the organizers and members of this group. It’s great to have more visible young adults in the Catholic movement for LGBT justice!

  • IowaMike

    Before I congratulate this group I would like to see their charter. I simply don’t find it credible that they claim they do not seek a change to Catholic Doctrine.

    I’m all for acceptance of LGBT people under the umbrella of Catholic Teaching. But DignityUSA wants the Church to abandon Scripture and go with pop-culture. That will never happen.

  • IowaMike

    TALloyd122,

    Perhaps you should publish the Objectives of the group which should include respect for Catholic teaching on homosexuality. I doubt that such a declaration exists within the group and until it does I can’t support it.

  • IowaMike

    CarrotCakeMan,

    From your comment it is pretty clear you do not understand the Church’s teachings on homosexuality. This is not something the bishops can change. In fact, it is not something that the Church can change. What you are missing is that the Church teaches the faith given to it by Scriputure, Apostolic Tradition, infallible declarations and the constant teachings of the ordinary and universal Magesterium. Presently 43% of (poorly formed) Catholics have no problem with homosexual marriage. But this is changing as the Church’s teaching becomes better know. Marriage for a whole bag of reasons must remain between one man and one woman.

    Your comment about the bishops poisoning our political proces with ‘secret’, ‘illegal’ contributions to anti-gay Hate Votes is without merit. In fact I think it might expose a strain of anti-Catholicism in your make-up.

  • verbummilitant

    CarrotCakeman, “It is sad to see anti-gays continue to ATTACK those many Catholics who support marriage equality…”

    The Catholic Church has been entrenched in its position for over 2,000 years. We are DEFENDING our position from the incessant attacks launched by the activist LGBT community. You are not the victim. The truth is the victim.

  • jay2drummer

    But your position isn’t under attack. Nobody is attacking the rights of Catholics, or trying to deny them the right to marry. Allowing equal rights to gays does not do anything to diminish heterosexual marriages. Civil recognition for gays doesn’t touch what your church can do. So no, you are not defending your tradition, you’re using the term “tradition” to justify attacking a group you don’t like.