These articles helped me reflect on this last year. A year of great growth for all of us while remaining the same.
That afternoon last year my heart went out to him. He had spent a long process of trying to understand himself. My first thought was how others would now judge him. And I have seen that reflected in some of the comments in this section. Some people are able to live in an absolute world.
My son's statement that day was that he is still the same person. Twenty-five years of knowing him, and I was surprised. This is not the struggle I want for him. However, to live a false life would be worse.
My son's good fortune is being from a supportive family. Many of us have gay and lesbian friends. But this was not easy for each of us. There was much reflection during the following months. We never considered ourselves having any bias. But it was still different.
I was able to talk to a gay couple who are close friends. They simply said that "it is what it is." These very spiritual and religious friends made me not worry about what I had done "wrong."
As so many others have said, I am grateful that ND has finally brought up this "hot topic." It has always been present and not addressed. As your opening statement reflected, there are many questions and attitudes that spring forward.
As a mother, I just want the same thing for each of my four children. I know that they are each made in God's image. That really hasn't changed in the last year.
Margaret Roberts Richards ('69 SMC)
My natural inclination is to have sex with every woman that I encounter. And because I was born a heterosexual, it can't be wrong. So being true to my God-created natural inclination, I will have sex with as many women as I want. And don't you dare judge me!
You wouldn't buy this line of reasoning from a heterosexual, would you? So why would anybody buy it from a homosexual person? Any way you slice it, wrong is wrong. Note to fellow alumni: The Catholic church does not require you to pretend that wrong is right to make someone feel good about himself. Resist those who want you to abandon what you know to be true. Yes, I believe that homosexuality is an intrinsic moral disorder. Having said that, I think that we're all morally disordered. Jesus commands us to "go and sin no more"—a standard applied equally to gay and straight alike. I feel great compassion for the struggle of homosexual persons, but I won't abide their sins, nor will I ask that they abide mine. We've only got one shot to get this right.
Bob Kruse ' 78
Congratulations to _Notre Dame Magazine_ for its thoughtful, provocative and overdue coverage about homosexuality. My non-alumni parents and siblings have long admired the magazine, but this issue was by far the most passed around and discussed. As a Notre Dame alumnus who happens to be gay, I read it with about the same interest as they did—which anecdotally tells me you were right to dedicate much of the last issue to this sometimes vexing topic. Don't let a few reactionaries (no matter how influential or well-heeled) stop you from exploring the issues that challenge my alma mater, the Church and society.
Michael J. Brogioli '86
In late 1975, at all of 16, I submitted my application to ND. I was accepted and entered as a freshman in 1976. Neither as an applicant nor as a 17-year-old freshman did I really know what it meant to be a gay. I came to that realization only after joining the ND family. Like me, most other gay students at ND/SMC become Domers well before realizing that we are also gay. Which is why the struggle to make the ND experience less painful for these members of our family is so important (and justified).
In the late '70s we had the Gay Students of Notre Dame (GSND), a support group that met at the Bulla Shed Campus Ministry building and operated a hotline out of LaFortune. Though not heavily involved in campus advocacy, our presence became a threat to the administration, which swiftly disbanded GSND.
This lack of support made my coming out process a very painful one. I sought "counseling" at the infirmary in an attempt to "cure myself." I prayed and lit candles at the Grotto with deepest faith. Following the advice of campus "professionals" and well-intended classmates, I attempted to "find the right girl."
My "Journey of Pain" through five years at ND/architecture was not marked by hate or rejection from fellow students or faculty. It was the institutional attitudes I encountered and the directions they attempted to push me in, that ensured that pain become the only outcome of my good-faith efforts. I had to fight (at such a ripe age!) the messages that I had a "terrible mental defect" and that I was "alienated from my God." A very "right girl" ended up caught in this web of pain.
I will never recover the time wasted in my sincere efforts to heed Church and University teachings and counsel. Unbiased therapy helped me overcome the feeling of inadequacy ND instilled in me. My transition to Episcopalian helped me see that my God had never forsaken me. As an adult, I developed the strength and maturity to face my challenges. However, as a teenager leaving home for the first time to go to ND, I deserved something better from my ND family.
Efforts to make ND more supportive and understanding of ALL in its family fulfill ND's Christian mandate, especially towards ALL the teenagers placed in its temporary care. ND may not be able to take away the pain of coming out, but surely there is no need for ND to add to it. For the love of Christ!
Carlos A. Carrero '81
Having read the articles in the recent edition of _Notre Dame Magazine_, I found them well written and insightful. It is definitely a reality in today's society, and something that should be addressed.
One of the basic tenants of our faith is that we all sin, and we all fall short of the grace of God, and we all need to seek forgiveness. No man and no woman is perfect. We all have our shortcomings that we deal with on a daily basis. We all have our cross to bear. I have known several homosexuals in my short life, and even have some in my close group of friends. They are smart, caring, compassionate individuals who are all God's creations, and they are all blessings in our lives.
I often find myself wondering about what God and our Church teach, and how to reconcile it with my life. I believe there is one message from sacred scripture that should be considered. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.
I'm a sinful human, as God created me, and I am not fit to judge. I''m not fit to judge my friends, both straight and gay, my family or total strangers.
I find it heartbreaking that so many people completely disregard what the Church teaches when it comes to morality and faith. Sex outside of marriage, as God defined it, is wrong and is a sin. God created each of us and he loves us all the same, homosexual or heterosexual. We are all called by Him to refrain from sex outside of marriage, whether it is homosexual or heterosexual. To some, this seems to be too much, but to those, I point to the litany of priests and nuns who serve our Lord and live a celibate lifestyle. Is celibacy impossible? No. Is it difficult and challenging? Of course. Being Catholic and following God wasn't meant to be easy, the early martyrs taught us that. We all have our crosses to bear. The best I can offer is my thoughts, prayers and support as we all seek to live as God called us. We must all work together to do God's will. But to attack the Church and its teachings is not the approach to take. Homosexuality is a sin, it's one of many that we all deal with on a daily basis. We live in a world where we are bombarded by sin, where temptations are around every corner. The solution is not to attack the Church, it''s teachings and it''s priests. We should work together to live as God called us, recognizing that we all sin and fall short of God''s grace.
Kevin McCarthy '99
I appreciate the discussion you evoke with this issue. It is through an open discussion of all the facet's of these issues that some, not all, will begin to understand that America is truly a melting pot: and not all the ingredients blend easily together! Nor are we required to like each other. However, we do have a common agreement, called the Constitution, which allows everyone to pursue happiness: and to be able to do so without fear of violence or bigotry.
The church has never been perfect; nor has it's adherents always understood each other.
But perhaps the grace of God can help us all to embrace our differences rather than use them as a rallying cry to kill each other?
What say you America?
John 'JJ' Ryan '90
Los Angeles, California
I had to chuckle at the indignation expressed by some students who believe it is just "alumni" and their quaint attitudes who are holding back the endorsement of an organization of gays and lesbians at ND.
When I was a student we likewise groused over: the banning of kegs in the dorms, parietals, single-sex dorms, and so on ad infinitum. After 20 years in the ranks of the Neanderthal alumni I thank God that the adults are still running the asylum. Get over yourselves, students. You are just passing through . . .
Elizabeth Spinelli Balmert '82
I know this nation has always had a history of crusading editors, but not many have taken on their own proprietor, the Catholic Church, like you have. Taking on the editorial theme of homosexuality in a Catholic magazine is at the same time gutsy and enlightening. Your issue was a terrific batch of stories of basic humanity that needed to be told, from the center of Catholic culture.
And the reason is simple: Homosexuality is genetic.
Our Creator God created them that way.
I know the genome detectives haven't proved it yet, but genetic proof isn't that far away. Meantime there are more than subtle data hints at it. Dr. Dean Edell, the radio doctor, is compulsive about data in medical testing. He reports a large study of identical twins, who were raised separately. When one of such twins turns out to be gay, there is a 50 percent chance that the opposite twin is also gay. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize that those statistics beat the bible.
I also know that you are going to get pummelled by a good portion of the body of ND Alumni. A hint about that came from the revealing story a couple years ago about priestly abuse and the article by John Salveson. It is discouraging to me to see so many faithful ND alums running to defend something just because the Church says so.
You know where I stand. You've run several of my letters about with my stated position on the out-of-control of world population and the Church's position on abortion and contraception. I have incurred the wrath of quite a number of ND alums over the years. The 87 million increase EVERY YEAR in global population is in part because of the Vatican's unseemly hold on the present US theocracy which denies the Agency for International Development, USAID, funding for population matters.
Well, at 73, I am hoping God will see fit for me to live long enough for the genome researchers to find the genetic links to homosexuality. At that time, we will have another Galileo type of apology needed from our Vatican hierarchy. I am certainly looking forward to those days.
Keep up your great work, and damn the torpedoes.
John Minck '52
Palo Alto, California
Thank you, thank you, thank you for your courageous, insightful and beautifully written series of articles on homosexuality. My husband and I love ND with all our hearts and cherished our time there. But as a new mother day-dreaming about my child attending ND someday, I was saddened to realize that I hoped my daughter could find a university with more diversity, with greater acceptance for gay students, and with a more progressive attitude about contraception. I was heartbroken to realize that I thought my child would be better off attending a different school. This issue of your magazine—and Mr. Nelson's eloquent, moving article about his gay son, in particular—has allowed me to start day-dreaming happily about my child studying on South Quad, wearing "The Shirt" to her first football game, making the best friends of her life among her fellow Domers, and being challenged and inspired by ND's wonderful faculty. I am so proud, today, to be a Notre Dame graduate. Congratulations for opening the discussion and promoting acceptance.
Megan M. (Massucci) Griesbach '98
San Francisco, California
Bravo to the NDM for this thoughtful series of articles. Thomas Nelson's is simply amazing, while all of them are worth reading and re-reading. What strikes me though is that this discussion is happening in 2004. For me it took place in 1966-1970 when I was an ND student and later when I was a spokesperson for a gay student group in Virginia. These issues were long ago resolved for me and just about everyone I know. Being gay in the NY/CT area in 2004 is simpy NOT an issue. It's sad to me that it is still an issue at my beloved Notre Dame. (Note: to be exact, I am not an alum, but would have finished in 1970; my leaving had nothing to do with my being gay, though ND was hardly a welcoming place that's for sure.)
Thank you for your group of articles entitled, "The Love That Dare Note Speak Its Name." As usual Notre Dame Magazine has come through with some serious, reflective journalism to challenge its readers. I'm glad you're still in the education business.
I found the article "God Gave Me A Gay Son", particularly poignant and thought provoking and plan to assign it (with your permission) to my university class on "Theology and Sexuality." For over ten years I have been exploring the issue of homosexuality with college students, looking at both the teaching of theologians, psychologists and sociologists. The good news is that each year students are more accepting and more understanding of what it means to be gay. I suspect some of the reactors to these articles never read more than a few lines, for, if they had, I believe, they would never have been so hard-hearted.
Antonia S. Malone
Middletown, New Jersey
Though my grandfather was a Notre Dame law school graduate class of 1911, and the Rev. Peter Cooney, who served the school for many years and died there in 1905 was an ancestor, I've never been as interested in your publication until the edition on "The Love that Dare Not Speak Its Name."
When I left the faith after junior year in high school, and paid the price when my grandfather refused to fund a public school education—I came to understand what moral rigidity means and does—though not as a homosexual.
Given the findings of genetics, specifically the x and y chromosome—the stance of the church and Notre Dame are no different to me than what Galileo encountered after discovering the earth isn't flat.
The character of those who stand up for their truth in the matter is supposedly the purpose of such an education, and I take my hat off to them.
Daniel R. Foley III
New York, New York
Thank you for your coverage of the lives of gay domers. We are breathing, alive, and diverse people—not some fringe issue to be glossed over. Too many gays are giving up on their faith and self-destructing. The Church has the responsibility to minister to the needs of all people. Other Churches are starting to minister to our needs, perhaps one day the Catholic Church will follow the lead of the faithful salt of the earth.
L Matthew Blancett '02
Thank you for your sensitive and compassionate treatment of homosexuality in the summer issue. I regret to note, however, that almost 10 years after the question of amending the statement of non-discrimination was raised the administration has not changed its stance. Today, as it was then, the apparent reason is fear of legal consequences . This decision may be prudent, it is obviously cautious, but it is certainly neither courageous nor pastoral. The success of the "Gay? Fine By Me" T-shirts seems to confirm what a student activist on campus told me several years ago. There is a distinction, he argued, between "Notre Dame" and the "Notre Dame Administration." The former includes students, faculty and alumni who in substantial numbers have been supportive of their gay and lesbian compatriots.
Ted Weber, Jr '49
El Cerrito, California
Thomas Nelson (God gave me a gay son) makes several assumptions that are not based in fact and need to be challenged.
He claims homosexuality is "genetic in origin." There may be some genetic propensity that environmental experiences can help express, but science tells us there is no such thing as a "gay gene" as exists in popular perception.
The general professional consensus is "that it cannot be changed and that attempts to do so can be distinctly harmful." There are times when such a consensus is wrong(like the the best way to treat pedophiles). Not only have I personally seen people who have been successfully treated, there is a professional organization that can attest to this politically incorrect truth(check out www.narth.org).
Mr. Nelson claims the "best minds" agree that homosexuality is normal. Just as the "best" football team can be beaten on any given day, I submit that those minds are dead wrong on this issue. The normal reaction to anal sex is revulsion. This is the normal, healthy response. Perhaps people are confusing the concept of "normal" with "common."
Homosexuality has been, and likely will continue to be, a part of the human condition. But the same is true of alcoholism, kleptomania, and assorted other sexual perversions. Their very existence does not make them "normal."
Mr. Nelson blames his "solid" Roman Catholicism and "rigid moral convictions" for his son's suicide attempt.
Again, there is no scientific basis for this. Homosexuals are much more prone to depression than non-homosexuals, regardless of their religious background.
Homosexuals raised in non-religious homes have also suffered mental illness and committed suicide. This correlation with mental illness confirms the impression that homosexuality is "objectively disordered."
"Much of our Christian rhetoric is anything but Christian" complains Nelson.
Jesus instructed us to love one another, but He also told us to hate the sin while loving the sinner. It appears that Mr. Nelson, and many other modern day Christians, are embracing the sin and enabling the sinner.
Brian W Donnelly, M. D., '81
I just found out that the 2005 Princeton Review of the country's best colleges & universities ranks Notre Dame as the most anti-gay university in the country. Let's hope this terrific issue of the magazine helps to change this awful national recognition. Being #1 isn't always the best!!
Peter Nardi '69
The_ Notre Dame Magazine_ made a bold and crucially important statement in its summer 2004 edition. The articles on homosexuality helped advance a meaningful discussion at Notre Dame. The conversation about homosexuality must continue.
Publishing candid articles written by gay students and their families is a new frontier for the University of Notre Dame "family." The lack of dialogue about homosexuality has led to misinformation and left many harmful prejudices unchallenged.
During my four years at Notre Dame, I came to learn that discussing issues of diversity is precisely what a well-rounded education means. I served for years as a diversity educator, utilizing the power of LTR retreats, the MLK committee, and the _Observer_ Viewpoints. I witness firsthand the potential of diversity dialogue. This served as a personal stepping stone to my own coming out.
It was during my first year of graduate school when I finally found the environment and gained the self-awareness to fully embrace who I am. Like many gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered individuals, my road to self-discovery was long and painful. The irony of fighting so hard to bring dialogue to the Notre Dame campus was that I found little support for my own struggles with my sexuality.
I listened during my four years at Notre Dame to the stories of other students, whose painful experiences held vastly important life lessons. These lessons planted seeds of hope and often gave voice to the voiceless.
Gay students have something to say and must have a voice. Without a meaningful forum for gay students to create their own organization, an important Notre Dame minority group is not receiving the support that it needs. Allowing gay students to establish support networks is not inconsistent with Catholic doctrine but follows closely the fundamental principles of human rights.
Gay students must have their own forum to freely and independently discuss issues of discrimination, injustice, hopes, fears, and common bonds. Other minority groups receive this opportunity, and gay students deserve no less.
Dialogue about homosexuality must continue, and gay students at Notre Dame must not be left without a voice. I encourage the _ND Magazine_ and community to advance this important diversity dialogue and ensure that "well roundedness" stays a part of the Notre Dame education.
"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in the moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at the times of challenge and controversy"—Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
"We have always held to the hope, the belief, the conviction that there is a better life, a better world, beyond the horizon"—Franklin D. Roosevelt
"Hatred paralyzes life; love releases it. Hatred confuses life; love harmonizes it. Hatred darkens life; love illumines it."—Dr. MLK, Jr.
Ken Seifert '99
Applause for recognizing homosexuality at Notre Dame. Boos for treating the subject according to Vatican norms. The accounts by the lesbian who tells about her feelings for women, the gay man who advocates chastity, and the gay couple who adopt children share a common feature: no sex. If that's what their lives are like, then how are they different from the heterosexuals who supposedly follow Vatican norms?
A couple years ago I saw this T-shirt on Castro Street in San Francisco: the front said: "No sex please . . . " and the back said: "I went to Notre Dame."
That's about the size of it.
John Zaugg '61
Palm Springs, California
I cannot help but note the delicious irony of this last issue. One one page we read of the Vatican's assertion that gay and lesbian parents are doing violence to their children. Yet on another page we read of the love of gay parents—Notre Dame alumni no less—for their children. Is there any more compelling refutation of this so-called Church teaching?
With this issue out, perhaps now the university's very own hierarchy can begin to address the ways in which the school's policies still harm students, faculty, staff and alumni who happen to be gay—sapping our full participation and inclusion within the Notre Dame family in ways that are meaningful to us.
Here are few suggestions:
•• Adopt a university-wide non-discrimination policy that includes sexual orientation. No university the calibre of Notre Dame should ever want to discriminate on such a basis.
•• Officially allow a self-governing gay student group to exist and flourish. No university the caliber of Notre Dame has such a restriction, not even Georgetown University. Such a ban tells gay students that they are not worthy of trust. It does not allow them to develop their full leadership potential.
•• Include out gay and lesbians in the diversity mix. In other words, seek out gay alumni to serve on all the boards and advisory groups in the same way that Notre Dame's other minority groups are embraced by school officials. We see all the other kinds of diversity, blacks, Hispanics and Asians—but none of ND's very well first minority.
•• After these few suggestions have been incorporated into the lifeblood of the university, there will be no need for the so-called "Spirit of Inclusion," which I find to more like a spirit of delusion.
Altogether, the magazine articles and these gay voices that are allowed to speak for ourselves are only the beginning. In fact, to my knowledge, this is the first time ever (in 2004 at last) that out gay people have been accorded such an opportunity in this magazine.
Sure enough, the series is as interesting as some of the responses. Clearly, the university has much work to do for those of us who are gay, as well as for those of us are too comfortable with what the church says and rather uncomfortable with gay and lesbian Domers.
Make no mistake about this issue: it is a major step forward for the university into the 21st century. For that we can thank the persistence of gay Domers and the editorial courage of Kerry Temple. After all, there is no place like home for validation and acceptance. Telling these the truths of these personal essays goes a long way to reconciling Notre Dame's gay sons and daughters with our alma mater.
Sometimes you can go home again. Surely even those who find gay and lesbian alumni so challenging, if not problematic, to the university' Catholic character, would want the place safe enough and welcoming enough for us to come back. At least I would hope so.
We are just as much Domers as anyone else. As such we are entitled to the same privileges and benefits and responsibilities that go along with being alumni. In a way it's just like full civil marriage rights for gays. Nothing more, nothing less—full and equal, just like straights take for granted all the time.
Chuck Colbert '78
I write to commend you for publishing the articles on homosexuality in the last issue of _Notre Dame Magazine_. Gays and lesbians have long been a part of the alumni/ae community, and we have been sharing our voices over the last several years through a separate alumni/ae newsletter. Having our voices represented in Notre Dame Magazine goes a long way toward affirming our inclusion in the Notre Dame family. Thank you!
James Cavendish '97 Ph.D.
The article in your magazine by Thomas A. Nelson '53 is an outstanding contribution to the field of moral theology even though the author did not delve into the morality of homosexuality.
Christianity over the last 2000 years has had a moral theology based on Sacred Scripture and Tradition primarily, and secondarily in gray areas on the magisterium of pope and bishops and on theologians for a most common opinion, more common opinion, and lastly common opinion. The track record of the use of these fonts of knowledge have produced a decent moral theology but has shown some weaknesses in the search for truth e.g. slavery was all right for centuries, usury held sway for a good long time with an imprimatur and it was deemed moral to imprison Galileo because his science stated that the earth rotated around the sun not vice-versa.
In the area of sexuality, since the 1100's, the moral theologians, who have waxed eloquent from their monasteries, have had as their primary source Saint Augustine (4th and 5th century) and their own experience living a celibate lifestyle, in which they did not interact with women or tried to look through women as if they were not there.
Tom Nelson has brought forth through his piece, the other font of truth that the Holy Spirit utilizes but the church leadership avoids—"Sensus fideluem" or the sense of the faithful.
We should pay more attention to the Holy Spirit working in married and single equally educated people, than on celibate theologians on the issues of sexuality and sensitivity. The former are living in the circumstances of the real world.
I am impressed, moved and enlightened by this package of pieces, and must commend the editors for the courage and grace with which this magazine was made. It cuts through the shrill arguing, brittle paranoia, fear, illusion, lies and politics to matters of the heart and soul. That is what a great magazine is after; that is what my alma mater, at its best, is after. Very well done. Question: how many universities and their magazines would have the courage to address such a heated issue of such immense import to so many of its students and alumni?
Brian Doyle '78
I would like to thank you and your staff for the recent issue devoted to stories of the GLBT community at Notre Dame. As an alumnus, and a gay man, the visibility you have created with this issue represents one of the first meaningful gestures of recognizing members of the Notre community who also happen to be gay. It is such a shame that the administration just "doesn't get it" when it comes to supporting a group of students and alumni that unfortunately are considered less than full members of the ND family.
I was truly disheartened to read of the young lady who felt she was not a "complete" member of her peer group because she could not be open and honest with them. Because this environment is allowed to exist at ND, the entire community is missing out on the contributions these students can make.In business, we recognize the important of diversity in the workplace. Diversity serves to strengthen the overall work environment, and promote individual differences as valuable to the organization and important in delivering quality customer service. I often quote a saying, "Diversity is not an obligation, it is an opportunity". From what I can see, ND is missing out on the "opportunity" these students can provide.
After a long absence, I returned to ND several years ago with my daughter who was considering applying for admissions. As we walked around campus, the magic of ND came back to life for me. It was like I had never left. I felt the warmth and joy of being in a setting where I was amongst friends. After having visited several other schools in the preceding weeks, at that moment I remembered why I loved ND, and why I wanted my daughter to go there. I am happy to say she is now entering her junior year at ND, and will be in Rome this fall with her fellow archie classmates. She already misses waking up to the band marching by Cavanaugh playing the fight song, and to the smell of bratwurst cooking on an open grill Saturday mornings in the fall.
I want to thank you again for your courage and strength in creating an opportunity where a meaningful dialogue can occur to change the environment that currently exists. Young minds and spirits (even the ones that happened to be gay) are too valuable a resource to waste. Lets do everything we can to encourage and support these individuals we are proud to call "fellow domers."
John (Jack) Bergen ND '77
I am so happy to finally see some acknowledgement of the gifts that our gay/lesbian/bisexual brothers and sisters have to offer our world and our Notre Dame community. It has long been a contradiction for a community that professes to care for each of its family members to simultaneously shun many of them for being exactly as God has made them. Every person has the ability to bring life into this world, and the biological definition need not be the only factor to determine how life-giving each person can be.
Let us be better to one another, and not just seek to be more "tolerant" but to truly look into the hearts of every person and see God in each person, and let our man-made policies reflect that openness and love.
Thank you for having the courage to publish this edition; I hope that the administration has that self-same courage to recognize campus groups such as OutreachND and United in Diversity, and to amend its legal statement of non-discrimination.
Christopher Alvarado '94
I applaud your decision to run the articles about homosexuality in your summer issue. Growing up I knew I was gay, but did everything I could to hide it, because of my fear of rejection from family and friends. It is important for institutions of higher education to share real life stories to help educate the public. Sometimes people are afraid of what they don't know.
Congratulations for having the courage to publish these articles. As a gay man, it gives me hope that the future will be brighter for our younger generation and for our society. Maybe someday, "and justice for all" will really have a stronger meaning.
How can you publish articles supporting a lifestyle prohibited by the Catholic church and still represent a Catholic University? Either you're with the church or you're not. Your choice, but you need to decide.
Bill Reilly '60
Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey