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Reasons to celebrate

Patrick Wall | Monday, February 1, 2010

To my fellow lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer persons in the Notre Dame community,

I have to admit, I’m still a little shocked about this whole cartoon controversy: I had no idea people still called us “fruits.” (Are gays also still accused of being light in their loafers? If so, please let my uncle know: he loves that one.)

This letter is addressed to you specifically in response to this university’s uncanny ability to have a discussion about gays without ever actually acknowledging our flesh-and-blood existence here, much less inviting us into the conversation. When I was still a student at Notre Dame, about three years ago now, I engaged in countless debates about gays and homosexuality and Church teaching as if it were some theological case study and not the story of my life. So, in the understanding that we are not talking about issues so much as individuals, I want to suggest some ways that you might address this situation on campus, in the hope of transforming it from an offense to an opportunity.

First, be brave.  If you are able to be out, to insist that homophobes address you directly when they use dehumanizing slurs and violent jokes, please do. If you can’t be out right now, then at least refuse to take part in homophobic culture. Long after you’ve forgotten that guy’s name who called everybody fags, you’ll remember that you never laughed.

Second, be loud. Wear that fabulous outfit, swing your hips and punctuate each sentence with a snap. We deserve way more than tolerance. This is a question of our very right to exist — not as lonely souls with disordered tendencies, but as full humans with brilliant ideas and loud mouths. And, for God’s sake, don’t wear a shirt that asks, “Gay? Fine by me.” If anything, “Gay. Really don’t care who it’s fine by.”

Third, be inclusive. If you think you’re the only group of people at that school who feels feared, excluded and unwanted, you’re not. Go talk to racial minorities, low-wage workers, non-Christians and others. Perhaps more than hearing a demand for a true “Spirit of Inclusion,” the University needs to see one in action.

Finally, be happy. Believe it or not, Notre Dame is making progress. When I first saw The Observer article about the protest over the cartoon, I was inexplicably happy. Then I realized why: “No Home Under the Dome.” That’s saying something; it’s a sad point, but the fact that people (200 of them, to be exact, including 40 faculty members) made it, loudly and in public, is supremely encouraging. I’m willing to guess that that’s a record turnout for a gay rights rally on this campus.

Undeniably, “The Mobile Party’s” illustrated hate crime gag was as depressing as it was shocking. And The Observer’s tepid response was hardly redemptive. But if all it takes is a puerile cartoon to mobilize hundreds of people in support of LGBTQ rights, then let’s keep this party moving.

 

Patrick Wall

alumnus

class of 2007

Jan. 29