Ally Week looks to promote support for LGBTQ Community
Thomas Murphy | Tuesday, April 9, 2019
In order to promote allyship and solidarity with the LGBTQ community, the Gender Relations Center is celebrating its fourth-annual Ally Week this week by hosting a series of events intended to raise awareness for the struggles faced by members of the LGBTQ community and educate students on how to be supportive. Events include service opportunities, a Catholic Mass, a lecture and a social, which will take place Friday on Fieldhouse Mall.
Notre Dame junior Kendrick Peterson, president of PrismND — a student organization dedicated to serving the LGBTQ and ally community at Notre Dame — said Ally Week looks to instruct the Notre Dame community about issues faced by LGBTQ individuals and how to combat them.
“The purpose of Ally Week is to not only to foster allyship education for LGBTQ individuals, but to ultimately provide the University as a whole a general idea of what allyship looks like for marginalized communities on campus,” he said in an email.
The term “ally” refers to someone who stands in solidarity with members of the LGBTQ community, Sara Agostinelli, assistant director for LGBTQ Initiatives at the Gender Relations Center, said.
“An ally is somebody who utilizes their place — whether it’s a place of privilege [or] it’s a place of resources — to bring a voice for and to a community to better serve that community,” Agostinelli said. “The LGTQ community is never going to be the majority in numbers … and so it’s really through allies and building that community that you’ll create that culture change that makes Notre Dame the place we want it to be.”
Senior and former Notre Dame student body vice president Corey Gayheart said the most important aspect of being an ally is simply doing one’s best to stand in solidarity with the LGBTQ community.
“An ally doesn’t have to know and understand everything,” he said. “But if they’re willing to learn, and their intentions are good and they’re willing to try and understand us and love us, I think that’s an important component of being a good ally.”
The week’s events include a lecture by Jamie Tworkowski, founder of “To Write Love on Her Arms,” a nonprofit organization whose mission aims to help those battling with depression, suicide and other mental health struggles. Tworkowski will speak Thursday at 7 p.m. in Montgomery Auditorium at the LaFortune Student Center. Tworkowski’s talk will center on mental health in the LGBTQ community, PrismND secretary and Holy Cross junior Jenny Gomez said.
“I personally am very excited for [Tworkowski’s] talk,” Gomez said. “The mental health statistics on the LGBTQ community are things that should be spoken about. I hope that Jamie’s presence and talk on campus will encourage students on campus to have those difficult conversations. Hope is real, and helping our friends and loved ones find that is an important key to what being an ally really is.”
Junior Elizabeth Boyle, Notre Dame student body president, said Ally Week is particularly important if one considers that the University has a duty to make amends for previous wounds to the LGBTQ community.
“Being a Catholic school, Notre Dame already is entrenched in a legacy of an institution that has not been the most welcoming and open to the LGBTQ community,” Boyle said in an email. “It is incredibly important that Notre Dame continues to take an active role in supporting LGBTQ members of our Notre Dame community so that we can set a precedent that all are welcome here and that all are welcome in the Catholic Church.”
Gayheart said at a religious university like Notre Dame, one can find the foundation for allyship within their religious and spiritual life.
“At the end of the day, everyone’s religion — especially Catholicism — calls for us to recognize the dignity in every human person, and it calls us to love one another and care for one another, especially for those in marginalized communities,” he said. “So, I think our faith is actually one of our biggest strengths in this department, and I hope that our University can better use that to recognize that there is dignity in every person, and we are all created in the image and likeness of God.”
A complete schedule of Ally Week events can be found at www.grc.nd.edu/events.