In their Own Words: Stories from LGBTQ+ Members on Campus

By Rachel Stevens

As part of a diversity and inclusion initiative, SGA hosted CUAllies on Thursday, March 28, to elevate the voices of marginalized communities on campus. “In Their Own Words,” hosted by sophomore social work student and director of this initiative, Q Garcia-Geary, introduced a panel of three LGBTQ+ community members on campus who were open about their personal stories coming to Catholic University and finding their support group at CUAllies and their struggles being on a Catholic campus while being LGBTQ+.

One of the members of the panel, sophomore politics major Ben Piatt, spoke about his anxiety coming to Catholic U not knowing if there was “a safe space on campus to be myself.” Once coming to Catholic, he found that there were certainly people who were not supportive of the LGBTQ+ community, but  there were also plenty of people who shared his views and were ready to support him at CUAllies.

After the three personal stories, two members from CUAllies spoke about the status of the club. Vice president and junior Joe Rose began the remarks by highlighting some of the successful events CUAllies has hosted this year. Afterwards, president and senior Adri Penafiel spoke to the fact that CUAllies is not formally recognized by the university despite being founded about a decade ago. Members have seen progress, but still feels the LGBTQ community experiences setbacks on a daily basis.

“CUAllies cannot advertise publicly, cannot book rooms, cannot table in the pryz, and has no access to the OCA’s resources,” said Garcia-Geary. “Despite this, they continue to fight for the needs of ALL students on campus and push to make CUA a better place.”  

Garcia-Geary  then took over, thanking the panelists for their time and introducing the next portion of the evening. Following the remarks, each table had pieces of paper and audience members were asked to come up with ways that CUAllies can better support the campus community. After time for deliberation amongst tables, each table presented their ideas. Some of the more prominent ideas included a queer resource center, sensitivity training, and spiritual direction for LGBT students. All of the ideas were written down and displayed at the front for everyone to see. It was a collaborative way to engage the audience.

Students from all different groups of the university were in attendance. Many students from Campus Ministry, student government, and across many different clubs, such as APO, came to show support.

Garcia-Geary wants people on campus who struggle with their sexuality, gender, or anything that makes them feel marginalized to know that there are places of support on campus.

“If anyone is feeling alone or isolated on campus, please know that there are people here who are ready and willing to support you. You are not alone in your pain and struggles,” said Garcia-Geary. “My best advice is to get connected with the LGBTQ+ community. Mosaic through the counseling department meets every Thursday at 5:10 pm in O’Boyle 111. This space is private, affirming, and everyone is welcome. CUAllies meets every other Tuesday at 8 PM in the OCA.”

In addition, there is now a “Wonderfully Made Renew” which is a safe space for all people to grow deeper in their faith. The group meets at 8:00 PM every Monday in Caldwell.

Catholic University is a place with a multitude of resources, but if you or anyone you know wants to seek help in relation to LGBTQ+ issues outside of the university, you can reach out to both SMYAL or The DC Center, which are both resources to help LGBTQ+ individuals.

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