By Katelyn Stafford
A person’s identity is a mosaic of diverse and unique factors, but for some people those factors may conflict. Many view religion and sexuality as mutually exclusive identities that cannot coexist, but for queer people of faith, it is not a decision of simply choosing one over the other. Coming out as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or any variant of gender and sexuality should not mean that all people have to lose their religion in the process. It can be alienating to embody both, but luckily LGBT&Allies works to make the process easier. This student organization here at Carlow University is creating a safe space for expressing sexuality while still embodying Catholic values.
Founded by Abbey Wamboldt in 2011, LGBT&Allies has about 15 steady members, and anyone interested is welcome to join. Inclusivity is important to the organization, and they work to create a support system for the LGBT community and their allies on campus. The organization understands the courage to come out as LGBT when also faced with the possibility that might mean losing the support system of a church, community, or family. It is a harrowing experience, especially in a time when people and institutions use Catholicism to promote intolerance and bigotry.
Carlow chooses to go the opposite direction, and their atmosphere of tolerance shows through on campus in the outreach work that LGBT&Allies does. Carlow promotes the Sacredness of Creation with their “reverence [for] each person and all of creation and the diversity they embody.” LGBT&Allies’ current president, Samone Riddle, feels this “intertwines with the LGBT community as accepted and loved individuals.” These values are brought to life through the group’s various events this semester and in the goals they have for the near future.
LGBT&Allies is responsible for putting together an “It Gets Better” video at Carlow and bringing the celebrations of National Coming Out day to campus. Sidewalks (and a few walls) were chalked with reasons group members came out and reasons they support those who are coming out. They’ve also passed out rainbow ribbon pins to be worn as a sign that LGBT people are welcome and accepted on campus. The events planned for LGBT&Allies next semester include continuing the group’s monthly meetings and creating even more group-oriented gatherings. Keep an eye out for their new set of educational posters to be put up next semester.
Expressing one’s identity shouldn’t mean sacrificing safety or community. LGBT&Allies is a great resource on campus to ensure that doesn’t happen. The organization is bridging the gap between what were once considered mutually exclusive values by educating others about the gay community and by discussing the political implications around the fight for equal rights. No one should be alone when they are questioning or coming out; LGBT&Allies is a lifeline for those grappling with this spectrum of issues.
Those interested in joining or getting more information can contact LGBT&Allies President Samone Riddle at email@example.com or by checking out the group’s Facebook page “LGBT&Allies Carlow University.” Stay tuned for their events next semester!