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Events heighten GLBQ awareness

Maddie Hanna | Monday, February 28, 2005

Notre Dame’s first Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Questioning (GLBQ) Awareness Week begins today. The events kick off with a local speaker and continue throughout the week.The week is designed to foster a more open-minded attitude among members of the campus community.”I feel this week is important for Notre Dame as a first step towards greater tolerance and respect for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people in the University and community as a whole,” said Chris Vierig, organizer and member of the Senate Diversity Committee responsible for the week.Vierig said the week would be significant because of Notre Dame’s tendency not to discuss matters surrounding homosexuality.”This is the first time that gay, lesbian and bisexual issues have been brought to the forefront and recognized by the University,” Vierig said.Senate Diversity Committee chair Nicholas Coleman said this week would try to counter the perception that members of the Notre Dame community can be blind to homosexuality.”It seems as though a lot of people do not realize that homosexuality is present at Notre Dame, and they need to be aware of that,” Coleman said. The events planned were not intended to promote homosexuality, but as the term “awareness week” implies, simply to raise awareness, Coleman said.”Students will most likely encounter homosexuality in their lives after Notre Dame. Whether they are OK with it or not, they need to be aware of it,” Coleman said.Both Coleman and Vierig said that while the campus has the reputation of not being overly welcoming to homosexuals, the situation seems to be improving.”The administration, by allowing this week and the gay film festival, seems to be open to encouraging discourse about this issue and that is encouraging,” Coleman said.The planning committee hopes the week will challenge students to evaluate their beliefs.”I personally feel that Notre Dame students generally have neutral feelings towards gay, lesbian and bisexual peers,” Vierig said. “We want everyone to feel a welcome part of the Notre Dame family. Holding a certain belief is worthless unless you’ve challenged it. I hope this week will give students that opportunity – to challenge their beliefs and realize the richness of cultures that make up Notre Dame.”As part of GLBQ week, Michiana performer Bradley Bogaert will speak tonight about his experiences and challenges as a gay man at 7 p.m. in 119 DeBartolo Hall.On Wednesday, students will wear orange to show support and solidarity for gay, lesbian, bisexual and questioning students. Theology on Tap will discuss homosexuality within a Catholic context at 10 p.m. at Legends.Thursday’s event will feature free Chinese food in LaFortune Student Center starting at 6 p.m. followed by a screening of the film “In and Out.”The Laramie Project will be performed Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m. in the DeBartolo Center for the Performing Arts.