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Homosexuals deserve tolerance and acceptance

Matthew Walsh | Sunday, February 29, 2004

I am angry. I am disheartened. Most of all, I am sick and tired of students and administrators at this University ostracizing gay people.After getting that off my chest, let me continue by stating that I am not pointing fingers in any way, nor am I attempting to attack any individual or group. My agenda is one driven strictly by rage and concern for the well-being of this University which is supposed to be grounded in justice and in Catholic morals. However, it seems to me – and to a lot of other undergraduate students with whom I have spoken – that many people, both in the Main Building and within the student body, in their struggle to cope with the presence of homosexuality at Notre Dame, have gone astray from basic human morality. By failing to embrace the problem and tackle the issue of homosexuality head-on, we are failing as good Catholics and as good human beings.I understand that in being a Catholic university, Notre Dame must fight to uphold Catholic beliefs and doctrines; however, is this the right thing to do if it means alienating a segment of the student and faculty population? By not doing more to equate gay, bisexual and lesbian students with the rest of the student body, we are actively engaging in discrimination ourselves. By claiming, as Chris Brophy recently did in the Irish Rover, that official club recognition for the Notre Dame Gay-Straight Alliance would “further the current threat to Notre Dame’s Catholic identity and moral stance,” we are failing to recognize the fundamentality of basic equality for all people regardless of sexual orientation. It is hard to formulate an argument against this, no matter how radical your own personal religious beliefs are. Notre Dame has been for years, and still is, practicing discrimination by failing to reach out to those of homosexual orientation and attempting to equate them, on a human level, with the tremendously heterosexual campus population. Sure, certain areas of this University are doing much to fight for this cause, and they should be commended and applauded. However, it is my personal belief that the current administration, as well as the current student body leadership, is not doing nearly enough to make attending Notre Dame more tolerable, more bearable and most importantly, more acceptable, for students of different sexual orientation than the majority of those who attend this supposedly “family-like” institution.To my knowledge, nobody who ran for student body president this year made the topics of homosexuality or diversity an issue of importance on their platforms. Personally, this is frustrating and maddening, for it does not take a survey or a special report by The Observer to realize that Notre Dame is not exactly a melting pot of racial or sexual diversity. In fact, all it takes to realize this is two eyes.Let me finish my literary rant here by stating that it is certainly up for dispute whether or not an aura of homophobia exists here at Notre Dame; however, have those people who have been fighting against the Queer Film Festival and the official recognition of the Gay-Straight Alliance ever stopped for a moment and thought about what it would be like to be a homosexual student attending this school? Or how about what it would be like to be openly homosexual and attending Notre Dame? (For there are many students at this school who are gay but, for whatever reason, are personally discouraged from being open about it here on campus.) As a resident of Zahm, I am used to being constantly ridiculed as living in the “gay dorm” on campus. This is, however, great testimony to the existence of a certain semblance of homophobia that does indeed exist here. How would you feel if you were gay and lived in Zahm? You would not be happy. In fact, being a gay student in any dorm at Notre Dame is difficult, and we, the heterosexual population here at Notre Dame, need to do much more than we are currently doing in order to reach out to our fellow gay, bisexual and lesbian students and fight to get them the equal status and recognition that they so fundamentally and rightfully deserve.

Matthew WalshsophomoreZahm Hall Feb. 26