On Being a Catholic Lesbian at Georgetown University

Catholic college campuses are among the most gay-friendly church institutions in the United States.  Young people are increasingly more and more supportive of LGBT issues, and campuses reflect that spirit of inclusion.

Meghan Ferguson

Meghan Ferguson, a student at Jesuit-run Georgetown University, Washington, DC, has praise for her school in terms of their record on LGBT issues.  In a recent article on NextGenJournal.comFerguson delineates the many surprises she has had coming to the campus as a Catholic lesbian woman, and she concludes:

“Being out at Georgetown is nothing like I had expected, and I have been very fortunate to have such a positive experience, because I know it isn’t always the case for everyone.  There have been ups and downs, and Lord knows I’ll gripe about something or other, but all in all, I owe a great deal to this community for creating a space that has challenged me to look closely at myself, my priorities, and grow into the person I want to be.”

She notes that the school has helped her to integrate her identities as a Catholic and a lesbian woman:

“My experience of being out at Georgetown is predominantly colored by two identities: namely, that I am Catholic, and that I am a woman.  ‘What?’ I hear you cry ‘you’re Catholic?!’ It’s shocking, I know. I spent most of high school as a closet Catholic around all of my gay friends, lest I hear more exclamations like that. . . .

“I suppose I had expected a similar situation at Georgetown, keeping those two spheres of my identity separate, so it was a surprise to say the least when I found a whole community of us. For the first time, I was able to be out as a Catholic lesbian and not only be accepted by both communities, but be a part of my own community.

“I have had some of the most profound conversations with friends about what it means to be queer and Catholic, the unique struggles we face, our doubts, how we reconcile those two identities and also the joys we have experienced.  These conversations, and this community, are something I think is very unique to Georgetown, and it has helped me grow in my faith in a way I never thought possible; I dare even say it has made me a better lesbian, because I have learned to grapple with and embrace the intersection of my faith and sexuality.”

Georgetown University is perhaps one of the best examples of a gay-friendly Catholic college.  They have an LGBT Resource Center on campus, which last year received a $1 million gift from former National Football League Commissioner Paul Tagliabue.

New Ways Ministry maintains a list of gay-friendly Catholic campuses, which continues to grow, as more and more schools respond to the needs of their students, faculty and staff.   The schools on the list all have some policy, program, or organization on campus which is supportive of LGBT people.  If you would like to consult the list, click here.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

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2 Responses to On Being a Catholic Lesbian at Georgetown University

  1. [...] – –Francis DeBernardo,  at  New Ways Ministry/ Bondings 2.0. [...]

  2. […] “But despite these gains, Chisholm and Dever feel the near-invisibility of trans* students on campus acutely. ’People aren’t as educated about it as they could be because they just don’t know anyone who is transgender,’ Dever said.” The article provides an in-depth look at the two students’ stories about being transgender and transitioning, which you can read here. As for the University, Dever and Chisholm applaud Georgetown for accepting different gender identities and admit wherever students are coming out as transgender and transitioning is difficult. Shiva Subbaraman, who heads up the LGBTQ Resource Center, says there has been tremendous progress on transgender issues in her five years on campus. As it has previously done, Georgteown University is now listening to students and leading the way on issues of sexual and gender diversity. A proposed student support group for transgender and questioning students is planned, as are educational programs. More questionable are the logistical issues, like housing and healthcare, that are often a flashpoints: “Chisholm acknowledges that Georgetown’s position as a Catholic university means it will be difficult to push for the kinds of policies that have been implemented at other schools — The George Washington University’s gender-neutral housing or American University health insurance’s coverage of transition surgery, for example. But she aims to push back. “ ‘As a private, Catholic university, I know that Georgetown can’t do anything we want…But that doesn’t mean I’m not going to fight as hard as I can for these things. Being Catholic doesn’t hold us back from being the people that we’re meant to be, from being the understanding Hoyas that we are, being the respectable and respectful community that we are.’ “ What do you think: Are the Church’s colleges and universities the future of Catholicism on LGBT issues? Are American Catholics ahead of the pope in terms of LGBT issues? What does Georgetown University’s welcome mean for transgender issues in the Church overall? Leave your thoughts and opinions in the ‘Comments’ section below. –Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry Related Articles on Georgetown University August 16, 2013: LGBT Rankings Fail to Reveal Full Story August 5, 2013: CAMPUS CHRONICLES: Georgetown U. Continues as Gay-Friendly Campus Despite Pressure April 2, 2013: CAMPUS CHRONICLES: Gay Students’ Elections Signal Shift in Catholic Colleges’ Inclusivity February 1, 2013: Raising LGBT Standards in Catholic Schools October 25, 2012: CAMPUS CHRONICLES: Georgetown U. Celebrates Coming Out Month October 12, 2012: New Organization of LGBT Students on Catholic Campuses Launched July 6, 2012: On Being a Lesbian at Georgetown University […]

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