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Out for change (continued)


Related links

BC Equality

Site for the student-led movement to get sexual orientation added to Boston Collegeís nondiscrimination policy. Offers information about the campus-wide strike and rally that took place on April 15, and advice on how to take further action.

BC GLBT

A compendium of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender resources at Boston College, with links to all on-campus organizations: the GLBT Leadership Council; Allies of Boston College; Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Community at Boston College; and more. In addition to a list of off-campus resources, it offers information and an overview of Catholic viewpoints on homosexuality, a primer for prospective students, and a list of BCís GLBT alumni.

Boston College

The universityís official site.

Society of Jesus

Founded in 1540 by St. Ignatius Loyola, the Society of Jesus is one of the largest and most influential orders in the Catholic Church. Today there are more than 20,000 Jesuits serving in 112 nations on six continents, and there are 28 Jesuit colleges and universities in the United States. Their official site offers information on their history, beliefs, educational philosophy, and social ministries.

PERHAPS SURPRISINGLY, most gay students I speak to at BC maintain a strong religious ó or at least spiritual ó inclination. Salter isnít Catholic, but he applied to three Jesuit schools before settling on Boston College. "I really feel strongly about faith in action, coming together, social-justice issues," he says. "Iím really interested in Latin-American economics, siding with the poor and the oppressed, liberation theology." Christian Cho, í07, director of alumni affairs for the GLBT Leadership Council, isnít Catholic either, but heís "actually thinking about converting. The peer minister in my residence hall is just as liberal as I am, but devoutly Catholic. I can be Catholic without necessarily agreeing with everything the pope or the Vatican have to say."

Brian Kaufman, whoís studying international studies and theology, says his faith has only grown at BC. Still, it was a dilemma when he realized he was gay, and came out during his freshman year. "For a while I was very afraid. I canít give up my Catholicism, and I couldnít renounce my homosexuality because theyíre integral parts of who I am," he says. "The reconciliation of the two couldnít be done without very powerful mentors, specifically the Jesuits here. Theyíre very open, very easy to talk to. They take the faith in action and apply it to all aspects of life ó the agapic love that God gives to all of us unconditionally. For me, Godís love has no societal construct. Jesus Christ died on the cross and was resurrected for everyone. There are injustices out there, and weíre called to do something about that. The fact that the administration doesnít support these ideals that the students obviously have is upsetting at times."

As for the hierarchy of the Church itself, Kaufman has mixed feelings. "Pope John Paul II was an amazing leader for the Roman Catholic Church. He really became a voice for humanitarian rights," he says. "On the flip side of that, obviously I donít agree with what he had to say about sexuality. The Church needs to address that issue. Are we going to get another pope whoís going to be a left-wing liberal and whoís a great advocate for gay rights? Probably not. But it will be interesting to see the stance the Church will take on this now that Pope John Paul II has passed."

Chris Young says heís "praying ó like, literally praying" for a better, more enlightened pope. Heís hoping for someone from Africa or Latin America, whose experience in Third World nations might help him identify with outcast people. (As the Phoenix was going to press, it was announced that Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, of Germany, one of the most conservative and traditionalist of all the papal candidates, would ascend to the Throne of Saint Peter as Pope Benedict XVI.) As for John Paul II, he says, "Itís always sad when somebody passes, and that was upsetting for me. But at the same time I have a problem calling him a man who recognized the dignity of all people because, in a lot of his documents and his writing, Iíve been labeled as Ďevilí and contributing to the evil of this world."

"We have wonderful students here," says Father Howard. "They really have a real moral sense and leadership. This is their age, this is their time." Howard believes students are right to view widening the inclusiveness of BCís nondiscrimination policy in terms of the schoolís Catholic mission. "The administration touts the Jesuit tradition of the school, and these kids seize on that. This is not Harvard. Harvard may not have to live up to some of [these ideals], but we do." In a subsequent e-mail, he offers another reminder. "Boston College was founded in 1863 ... to help Catholics who were being DISCRIMINATED AGAINST to rise above that opposition so they could enter the mainstream of educated professional people! Catholics in this country, least of all Irish Catholics at Boston College, have no business whatsoever discriminating against anyone for any reason!"

AS THE GREATER culture shifts toward acceptance and recognition of gays and lesbians, BC, however glacially, is changing, too. Still, "thereís a lot of stuff to be working towards," says Young. "The nondiscrimination clause, obviously. But also the creation of a queer-studies minor. The hiring of an assistant dean of GLBT issues. Bringing new speakers to campus, pushing the envelope a little bit."

Salter says his work with BC Equality has precluded some more important things lately. "My schoolworkís taking a back seat to this," he explains. "Everything is. Iím a little uncomfortable that Iím paying $40,000 a year to come here, and Iím spending my time not doing schoolwork to fight for this. But we are so entrenched in this, and so connected to this, that I canít concentrate in class. My mind is just somewhere else."

Young has made sacrifices, too. He was supposed to spend next year studying in Berlin, but has decided to go for a single semester. Thereís too much work to do on campus. Heís sure his work making BC more amenable to GLBT issues will end up being "one of the defining things of my college experience. Itís given me a purpose that I didnít think I fully had here." And heís playing to win. By the time he graduates, he says, "I want to make the administration say, ĎIím glad heís here, but Iím glad heís leaving, because heís been a thorn in our side.í And I will be, until we get what we deserve."

Mike Miliard can be reached at mmiliard[a]phx.com

page 5 

Issue Date: April 22 - 28, 2005
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