Editor’s note: The following letters were received through the magazine’s React Online form and from those written or emailed to the magazine.
It is with regret that I hereby request that you remove my name from your list of subscribers. I have for many years enjoyed keeping up with goings on at Notre Dame through the magazine. Your current issue, however, sadly demonstrates an editorial philosophy that I cannot find edifying and must protest against.
I am greatly disturbed by Mr. Temple’s statement in his editor’s note that: “Homosexuality is . . . a fascinatingly rich subject that gets into human nature, love and sexual attraction; brings together science, psychology, sociology and religion; that involves family, morality and cultural mores; that raises questions of Catholic doctrine and the individual’s conscience.”
The essays that follow make it clear that the homosexuality that Mr. Temple is discussing here is not merely the homosexual orientation, but, in fact, active (or, as he puts it, ‘open’) homosexuality. To describe a lifestyle involving the commission of capital sins as ‘fascinatingly rich’ is indeed perverse. I am deeply ashamed of the University’s cooperation with Mr. Temple’s editorial decisions.
Christopher O. Blum ‘66 Ph.D.
Front Royal, Virginia
Thank you for your wonderful articles on gay issues in the Summer 2004 issue. I am very proud of what you have done and the courage you have displayed in so doing. The articles were as touching and emotional as they were important and profound. Don’t let anyone tell you differently!!! Keep up the good work.
Tom Fox ‘96
The U.S. Census 2000 reported that 1.51 percent of Americans are gay, lesbian or bisexual. But even taking the inflated estimates reported in your magazine that 5 to 10 percent of the U.S. population is gay, why would you devote an entire issue, or 25 percent of your annual editorial output, to that central theme? It is this kind of in-your-face overemphasis that distorts gay-ness in America and alienates heterosexuals like me. Balance, please.
As a member of the class of 1994 who happens to be gay, I’m so proud that you’ve taken the bold step to discuss the issues concerning Gay & Lesbian members of the Notre Dame family. Being a student at Notre Dame always has many challenges, and Gay students are also forced to struggle with self-acceptance. After college, I realized I was gay and looked for a church that would accept me. I found self-acceptance by joining a very welcoming Episcopal Church in Beverly Hills, CA. I wanted to let readers of ND magazine know that God’s grace is available in many different places. I have been blessed by my Notre Dame education, but I’ve also been blessed by being a Gay Christian. I challenge the conservative readiers of ND magazine to get to know Gay & Lesbian members of the Christian faith. I think they will learn a great deal about God’s creation, and that we are all God’s children. Thanks again for your objective reporting on a somewhat taboo subject at Notre Dame.
Peace to you & your staff always,
Troy Mendez ‘94
Los Angeles, California
I appreciated the extensive coverage of the gay and lesbian community of Notre Dame in your latest issue; I was a member and former chair of GLND/SMC in the 1980—what a difference time (and demonstrations of the ’90s) has made in the coverage of gay and lesbian issues at Notre Dame. We still have a long way to go, but the light glows a bit in a very dark world.
Betty J. Bruther ’96 Ph.D.
Notre Dame Magazine will now explore the new age religion of existentialism and pragmatism as the replacement religion for Catholicism. Legitimization of sodomy was announced as a new editorial policy by the editorial board in its’ latest edition. Now Notre Dame magazine can team up with Soros and tell the big lie. Homosexuality, abortion,eugenics etc. are not excersize of free will , they are sins.
Cancel my subscription. Temple you are pathetic.
Robert T. Fanning, Jr.‘73
I want to express my appreciation for devoting so much space in the summer issue of Notre Dame Magazine to gay and lesbian issues. I found the section very moving. So often, when the Church makes its pronouncements on homosexuality, it seems like it has not taken time to listen to the stories of its lesbian and gay members. Thank you for taking the time.
John Colligan ’77 ’78
Congratulations for an excellent issue dealing with “the love that dare not speak its name”—a timely and balanced approach on a subject that demands prayerful attention.
Richard Stevens ’54
Nice articles on homosexuality. A series on other disorders would be welcome. The normal adjustments people have made in spite of their diabetes, epilepsy, cancer, panic disorder, schizophrenia, etc would be as nice as hearing about fairly normalized homosexuals. Of course the first step for treatment of anything is the acknowledging that one has a disorder in the first place. To proclaim that any disorder is normal is the clearest sign of the pathology of the disorder. Treatment works. Denial does not. Denial is especially offensive when we are asked to affirm what our minds, hearts, traditions and nature tell us is abnormal and in need of help. Homosexuality will never be understood until all the medications his or her mother took (including and especially including “the pill”) during the pregnancy are known.
Samuel A. Nigro, M.D., ’58
Human happiness, always in short supply on earth, is more important than obedience to ancient doctrine. Fortunately, the flock is leading the pastors.
Dick Reynolds, Ph.D. 1969
I was totally shocked and disgusted with your magazine this month! I sent my child to a Catholic/religious school for a reason. The comments that being a homosexual is a normal condition. That it must be right because God created them and God doesn’t make mistakes. Those comments must then be applied to other individuals with deviant behavior ,also. Did God mean for someone to turn into a serial killer? Did he mean for the Mormons to have more than one wife? Did he mean to have pedophiles? Was it an accident that he destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah? After all ,he created those individuals, also.
You are just trying to be a friend to the world by publishing this rubbish. If you do read the Bible, you know that God says you cannot obey his word and be a friend of the world at the same time. Hollywood and the media are full of homosexuals and therefore are telling the world that this is normal and that we should accept this deviant behavior. If they were full of pedophiles that is what we would also be seeing on TV. If you speak up as a Christian, there is no tolerance for our beliefs, which have lasted over centuries. Look at the abuse the thousands of kids have been put through in the Catholic Church alone. They are admitting that the problem was caused by allowing homosexuals in the priesthood. And here you are glorifying it as just another lifestyle. That is just another slap in the face for the victims. Look at the Gay Pride Parades . . . how can you say it is a normal lifestyle to see all of the vulgar behavior?
You need to question your reason for putting this in the magazine in the first place. You are not following Catholic doctrine. You are not following the Bible teachings. So what was your reason for putting it in a magazine that has a religious foundation? I hear the comments, oh we don’t want to judge anyone that it is up to God to do that. Would you allow a teacher with deviant behavior to teach your children? A pedophile . . . a teacher who is a stripper at night . . . a prostitute . . . a bigamist . . . someone who is married to their dog?? Don’t you see that this is where it is going. How can you say one deviant lifestyle is okay but not all the others? The media has been saying that being homosexual is the okay one. So now the followers have heard it enough that they repeat it.
God is not going to put up with this much longer. You need to turn off the TV and sit down and spend more time reading the Bible. God will judge us for whether we keep his word. I stand with him and not the world. You can’t have it both ways and in today’s sinful world it is now the Christians need to stand against evil. I am not some crazy zealot. I am an elementary school teacher, and I am nice to everyone. I would not be mean to someone because of their problems. But I see everyone just falling away from taking a stand because of the media. I see what they are doing and I will not back down. Homosexuality is a sin and will always be a sin.S o what else will be in your next issue? “God Gave Me A Stripper Daughter”; “How I Became a Prostitute at ND”; My Dog, My Husband . . . an Alternative Lifestyle"? Why can’t you see that this is no different than what you just published? The only difference is that the media has desensitized you to the issue. I hope you have been given a lot of grief for this issue.
Shame on Notre Dame for allowing this to be published under their name.
In July, I brought my new boyfriend, Peter, home to meet my family. My Dad (class of 1949) died in 1989. My family now consists of my mom and two aunts. My boyfriend is from Jamaica, and I had no idea how my mom and aunts would react to my dating someone of a different race. I was so happy and pleased that Peter was welcomed to the family with open arms. I picked up my mail at my mom’’s house and read the articles on homosexuality in Notre Dame Magazine on the drive back to Manhattan. I thought the articles were great. Having your family being happy for you and accepting of your partner is very important. I am so happy for the people in the articles that they have acceptance and love from their families. I was especially touched by the article “God Gave Me a Gay Son.” The personal growth Thomas A. Nelson experienced from all his children was wonderful. Thank you for a great issue!
Kathleen Cavanaugh ‘84
I think wasting good space in a normally good magazine on a subject held in contempt by the church was not a good idea. You are a school known for sports, excellent academics,and many honorable graduates—you could have expanded on Alan Page—you gave Father Joyce only two pages for all of his work thru the years—but you chose to go the People magazine route and drag the dirty laundry onto the campus in full view of Our Lady standing high on the Golden Dome. Shame on you and your short sighted editors for lowering yourself to publish 22 pages of what we can all read about in other rags—we do not want it in our homes in the form of the Notre Dame Magazine.
Your next copy will be perused for content before I pass the garbage can on my way in from the mailbox!
I couldn’t help but empathize with Christopher Temple Davis ‘83 as I read his article “All the Way Home” in the summer 2004 Notre Dame Magazine. It seems like ancient history since I came out of the closet in 1979, four years after graduating from Notre Dame. It was a tumultuous period in my life when nearly all of my relationships survived intact except many of those with my Notre Dame family. The “wound is reopened” every time Notre Dame Magazine arrives in the mail. I also have two sons but would not, however, support their decision to go to an institution like Notre Dame, which because of its affiliation with the Catholic Church, continues to not take the “correct” stand on this prejudicial issue.
David B. Erba ’75
I find it hard to criticize Notre Dame Magazine after years of proudly reading and sharing its content with my seven children and 10 grandchildren. Now I have a Volume 33 (summer 2004) that I cannot even leave out in view at my home!
Catholic teaching has always been centered on “free will”. The very concept of justice is based on it. Now you come up with the “sexual orientation” wording (the devil made me do it). With such a concept, there is no personal responsibility for avoiding sin. Our Lady must be saddened to see this published in the name of Her University.
My University—Your University—must encourage Catholic principals. To fail to do your part saddens me. I’ll hide this summer issue in the trash, hoping nobody picks it up at the landfill.
Harlan P. O’Connor ‘49
The article “What the Church Has to Say” by John Monczunski is absolutely fantastic. It hits the nail right on the head.
1.0 Homosexual “orientation” is not a sin.
2.0 Homosexual “activity” is a sin.
3.0 Homosexual Marriages or Civil Unions are immoral and a detriment to society.
4.0 Adopting children into those marriages or unions is gravely immoral and puts those children at risk.
Why is there so much argument and discussion on this subject? The Church has spoken quite clearly.
Edward D. DeBoer ’53
Signal Mountain, Tennessee
Imagine a world where sexual orientation would be as insignificant as eye color. Imagine a world where all loving relationships would be valued and affirmed. Imagine how ridiculous all this Catholic angst would appear in such a world.
Robert F. Dailey ’74
At last, I can reclaim my ND alumnaeship! I was ashamed of my alma mater because of its homophobic stance. Now there seems hope! Congratulations to all those who are taking the ball and running with it.
S. Dorothy Eggering, SSND, ’68
I am deeply saddened by the fact that Notre Dame Magazine, which you lead, has chosen to betray 2,000 years of Catholic teaching by endorsing homosexuality as an acceptable lifestyle.
In order for a person or institution to authentically be called “Catholic,” he, she or it must obey the decrees of the Pope. We have no individual discretion in interpreting the Bible, and we can not create our own morality. In no uncertain terms, the Church has never wavered from its stance that homosexuality is a “gravely disordered condition,” as is the desire to commit rape or bestiality.
Homosexuals must be shown compassion and love, but only in an effort to help them overcome their temptation to sin. It is my view that your recent summer edition actually encourages homosexuals to act on their temptations by presenting homosexuality as just another lifestyle choice that must be welcomed at Notre Dame.
As a Catholic who wishes to see my University remain Catholic, I must discontinue my subscription to your magazine. Failure to do so would signal implicit support for the magazine’s heretical agenda. Additionally, I will be sending out mass emails to encourage other loyal Catholic alums to do the same, in addition to withholding financial assistance from the University. Until this magazine and this University returns to true Catholicism, we will remain firm in our outspoken opposition.
I am severely disappointed by your lack of leadership on this issue. And I hope you will consider what I have said and make serious changes to Notre Dame Magazine.
Brendan C. Dwyer, ‘04
As the mother of a gay son, I want to thank you for addressing “The Love That Dare Not Speak Its Name.” I most especially appreciated Thomas Nelson’s personal account as a parent who learned invaluable truths as well as questions about life and God from his gay son.
No doubt you will be vilified for featuring this aspect of human life—there is much latent fear with ancient primitive origins (as expressed in scripture) around this form and/or physical expression of sexuality, and the fear boils over into hate and violence. The violence can be verbal, psychological, political, physical—all of which exact a terrible human cost.
I suppose that, since Notre Dame is a Catholic University, “the Church’s” so-called moral stance must be featured in your magazine. But frankly, the Church, i.e., the institutional Church, has blood on its hands for its promulgation of homophobic attitudes and policies. It has forgotten that each human being is created in the image of God. Who are we humans to dictate what that Divine image is? The language that issues from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith regarding the homosexual population is horrific and is responsible for terrible harms wreaked on this population and all of us who love them.
As to the University’s refusal to officially recognize a gay-lesbian organization, I find it ironic that at the same time, the University not only recognizes but sanctions on its campus an organization specializing in legalized killing, namely ROTC.
Ah, do the University’s policies emanate from the Beatitudes anymore? Or only when it’s convenient and/or politic?
Congratulations—no, never mind, scratch that. Thank you. Well, that’s not quite right either. Finally. That may be the best term I can use.
My mom told me that I’d be interested in the summer issue (I am one of the unfortunate folks whose copy was lost in the mail). She didn’t even tell me the central theme, just that it was something along the lines of “a love that dare not speak its name.” I knew right away that there would be at least one article addressing the topic of gay, lesbian and bisexual life at Notre Dame.
I write “finally” for many reasons. First, as a student at Notre Dame in the early ‘90s, I always wondered why so few of my classmates and friends were openly homosexual. After only a few short months of my freshman year, I quickly realized that our campus was not just quiet about gay & lesbian students, it was downright hostile. From the administration to dorm life, the time wasn’t right to be “out” for many students. In fact, I met a student during my sophomore year who made the decision to leave Notre Dame for another Catholic university because he knew that he would be more welcome.
In the spring of 1995, a large contingent of undergrad and graduate students protested and rallied for the GLBT community at Notre Dame (thank you, Sister Mary Louise, for acknowledging the many years of struggle in your interview). In the 1995 graduation weekend issue of the Observer, there was a full-page ad supporting GLBT students and challenging the administration. Of the hundreds of people who signed the ad, my mom found my name. I think she was never prouder of me. At the time, I thought it was pointless, since all of us would soon graduate and move across the nation and world, unable to push the issue further. Finally, it looks as if the foundation laid by generations of students, faculty & friends has finally paid off.
Finally, I can speak openly with my co-workers about where I went to college. I work at an AIDS service organization in Chicago, where GLBT life is the norm, not the exception. Finally, I can speak with pride of ND with my relatives, whose members include many homosexual men and women. Finally, I can tell put a copy of Notre Dame Magazine on my coffee table without my spouse challenging me. Finally, I may make my first financial contribution to my alma mater, after nearly 10 years of using this issue as my excuse.
Matt Towey ‘95
Just when I thought ND Magazine had lost its edge, finally it confronts a real issue.
Notre Dame graduates need to spend more time dealing with complicated social issues in our world and less time worrying about the state of our football team.
Paul Czarnecki ’89
Ron Belgau is to be commended for his courage in writing such a deeply honest testimonial, both revealing his personal struggle and search for the truth. He is correct in identifying that a crisis of obedience underlies the problem of sexual sin, whether it be heterosexual or homosexual. Out of all of the writers in your feature articles, he is the only one who seemed genuinely concerned with doing God’s will.
The world has much to say about sexuality, but much of it is opposed to the Catholic understanding of the human person. Our Holy Father has written so eloquently and copiously on this subject, yet our American Church has failed to engage in a serious dialogue with him. As Christians, we have completely abandoned the sense of sin and acknowledgement of our fallen nature. It seems to be common sense that just because we have certain feelings does not mean that we act upon every one. For instance, a thief could not defend himself by saying he robbed a bank because he had a desire for money upon which he had to act. Then, why do we treat sexual desires so differently?
Many of us have a knee jerk reaction to the the Church’s teachings on same-sex attraction, finding them to be oppressive and unrealistic. This is true if you look at it from the world’s perspective, but not from God’s. We are richly blessed in the Catholic Church; Christ has given us so many desperately needed gifts. He had made us for Himself and wants nothing less than to share His divine life. Through the gifts of prayer, the sacraments and His Word, Christ has given the grace necessary to sustain us in following Him, even in a world that increasingly rejects Him and his teachings. Our acts of obedience will always require some sacrifice of our personal desires. When we contemplate Christ’s ultimate act of obedience, dying on the cross for our sins, our small sacrifices appear to be mere trifles.
Belgau’s insight speaks to all of us, regardless of what our sinful inclinations may be. This is not about rigidity or rules, but acts of love. Christ told us that we cannot love both God and mammon. Each of us has to identify what mammon seeks to supplant, our love of God. We cannot outdo Christ in love. For every sacrifice made in His name, He repays it tenfold. I pray that those who struggle with same sex attraction may find the peace and joy that the world cannot give.
Amy Dickas ‘90
God expects us to love all and we try. God expects us to hold sacred the gift of creating life and we do not even try. The balance of the articles were long on love and short on the sanctity of life.
As Catholics we can not pick and choose among commandments and traditions. We have signed up for the whole package. To suggest that all we need is love and support ignores the other part of the equation where the sexual act remains completely open to the gift of life which is the ultimate expression of love.
This makes me believe that this was not a debate but a position paper on why it is ok to be a non-chaste homosexual or even a non-chaste heterosexual outside of marriage.
We know that outside of the Catholic Church that this is a norm in our society. The Catholic Church remains one of the few holdouts.
Is there a reason for this? Let’s hope so.
Brian Enright’ 84
I feel deep sympathy for those who suffer from a homosexual orientation. I cannot subscribe, however, to a magazine that purports to be Catholic while suggesting that it is proper to engage in homosexual acts. I support the Church’s teaching on homosexuality. Please cancel my subscription to your magazine.
Meg Diamond Enright ‘84
Thank you for the latest ND Magazine issue. I have been thinking about reacting online for a while, and I finally got the courage to do so today. I want to thank you for devoting an entire issue to something that affects me daily. I am a gay ND alum, and I was very pleased to see that you finally included stories from gay people who wrote about their own experiences, not to mention the story of the father with the gay son. I am often discouraged when the topic of homosexuality is debated by non-gay people. I often wonder how people would react if issues involving race were only discussed and decided by members of one race.
I would like to tell the straight people who may be reading this that there are many gay people in our country who do not necessarily embrace all aspects of the so-called gay lifestyle, and that many of us are invisible to your eyes. You pass us everyday in the grocery store and the malls. We just want what most straight people want.
I would also like to comment upon some people’s obsession with keeping all gay people celibate. I would understand this better if I saw the same consistent urgency and emphasis on celibacy placed upon adult, unmarried, straight people as well. I’d just like to see some consistency.
Lastly, I want to emphasize that I was born gay, and God created me this way. I used to blame all of my problems on my sexuality for years. Little by little I am learning that we all have problems, and my sexuality may make my life more troublesome at times, but it is not the root cause for all of my problems. My hope is that the young will come to realize this as well. I want to say thank you, too, to all my ND friends who I have come out to and who have given me so much support over the years. Sometimes it is overwhelming how wonderful ND friends can be.
Jeremy Mayernik ’92