As students who organized the poetry reading in the lounge of McKenna Hall on Saturday, we would like to clarify what took place. When we saw the Edith Stein Conference schedule, we became concerned that the panel on “Homosexuality and Identity” was asserting a one-dimensional view of the relationship between Catholicism and homosexuality, and that it did not give space to other voices which are trying to enter this debate.
We decided to read queer poetry by established and emerging poets, such as Akilah Oliver, Allen Ginsberg, Anne Waldman, Carol Ann Duffy, John Wieners, Shane Allison and Walt Whitman — all of whom take very different aesthetic approaches. We also asked people to bring poems and to read them aloud. This was our way to affirm LGBT identities and desires.
In the e-mail which we had circulated just the previous day inviting people to join the reading, we had made it clear that we would read for half an hour before the panel, that we wanted a dialogue with Melinda Selmys and the other panelists, and that we would be attending the lecture/panel to listen to their views. Our intention was not to disrupt the panel but to make ourselves heard, to expand the boundaries of the conversation around homosexuality. Thus, when we were informed that the lecture was about to begin, we once again invited everybody present to attend the panel with us.
Any “young children” we saw at the protest were pre-verbal; we certainly had not expected children to be present at a frank, intellectual discussion.
We would like to thank all the organizers of the Edith Stein Conference for enabling this much needed conversation, and hope that this dialogue will continue on the Notre Dame campus in a rigorous, thoughtful, inclusive manner.
Fischer Graduate Residence
C. J. Waterman