LGBTQ Students on Campus Speak Openly About Life Experiences, Diversity, and Acceptance at Catholic University

Openly gay and lesbian students on campus (Stephen Morris, Nick Yager, Kelly Bourbon, and Terrence A. Britt) spoke to students about their experiences on Wednesday evening in the Edward J. Pryzbyla Center.
Openly gay and lesbian students on campus (Stephen Morris, Nick Yager, Kelly Bourbon, and Terrence A. Britt) spoke to students about their experiences on Wednesday evening in the Edward J. Pryzbyla Center.

By Kaitlyn Troilo

This past Wednesday the Student Government Association’s (SGA) Diversity Task Force held an event in the lower food court of the Edward J. Pryzbla Center that has propelled the conversation with and about LGBTQ students on campus and their human dignity.

At the event titled, “In Their Own Words: Stories of LGBTQ Students and Their Quest for Human Dignity,” four students gave personal testimonies of their coming out experiences: Nick Yager a senior Architecture major, Terrence Britt a senior Vocal Performance major, Kelly Bourbon a sophomore Media Studies major and Stephen Morris a junior Politics major.

Following the four testimonies were small group discussions with questions facilitated by “The Dream Team” which were members of the Diversity Task Force and the four students who spoke at the event.

Because of the subject matter, Director of the Diversity Task Force, Kately Javier, wanted to make sure that everyone knew that this event was not to further any political agenda or to offend anyone but to, “promote what it is to be diverse, to explain to our student body that we are different and that is okay… these differences that define us are what make us a part of Catholic University.”

In addition, Shelby Kessler, an active member of the Diversity Task Force who was in charge of the event, sat on stage with the four speakers and further explained the purpose of the event.

“A major theme of our event is the catholic social teaching of human dignity,” said Kessler. “All human beings were created in the image and likeness of God and we hope that tonight we can build solidarity around the LGBTQ community.”

While the legalization of same-sex marriage and the position of the Catholic Church on it remains a controversial subject, the overall tone of the room was peaceful.

University Chaplain and Director of Campus Ministry, Rev. Jude DeAngelo attended the event adding to the atmosphere of compassion.

“I really appreciate that each person who spoke and who attended were respected and respectful,” said DeAngelo. “I expected nothing less from our students and the community we aspire to build every day.”

The conversation had at the event plays into the narrative Pope Francis has been providing, namely, a stunning example of sensitivity and acceptance to people who are a part of the LGBTQ community.

With almost 300 students in attendance, the event was the largest event that SGA’s Diversity Task Force has held so far this year.

“This really opens up a conversation for students here at Catholic University,” said President of SGA, Anne St. Amant. “If you looked around the room there were students of all ages, of all different backgrounds and majors, of both Republican and Democratic parties. This was a powerful event.”

Regardless of the personal beliefs of the people who attended, an air of unity lingered in the room.

Cullen Murphy, a freshman Politics major and member of College Republicans described a feeling pride in the University, despite personal political beliefs.

“Being present, you couldn’t help but feel you were a part of history,” said Cullen. “The speakers opened our eyes to the struggles they had overcome and instilled in us the message that work still needs to be done on this campus and in this country.”

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