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A call for allyship

| Friday, October 4, 2019

It doesn’t take a genius to recognize there’s a disregard for LGBTQ+ individuals on this campus. I had the inconvenience of learning this in the first month of college when I was called a homophobic slur and thrown around a dorm stairwell. Things have not again escalated to a physical point since then, though a similar sentiment repeatedly expresses itself through the words and actions of my peers. For every event like the Gender Relations Center’s LGBTQ+ barbecue, I’d see an Observer letter similar to the one on how “love loses” with the allowance of gay marriage (written by a former president of Notre Dame’s only LGTBQ+ student organization, nonetheless). Maddie Foley pointed out the endless cycle of articles and responses on the subject in the poignant piece she submitted two weeks ago, “A call for empathy from a gay Catholic.” I’m contributing to the feedback loop because despite Foley and Audrey Lindemann’s respective pieces, a large portion of the Notre Dame community still just doesn’t get it.

Lindemann’s poem is a display of vulnerability that takes bravery to share with the same community that invited Mike Pence to speak at 2017 Commencement. It takes strength to be out on this campus, and even more to vocalize that experience. Appropriating that poem to fit your own agenda, regardless of its topic, is intrusive. The rewording of Lindemann’s piece is a cheap gimmick and prime example of what this campus does all too well: diminish queer voices. Notre Dame’s mission statement specifies that students shall cultivate “a disciplined sensibility to the poverty, injustice and oppression that burden the lives of so many.” Francine Shaft’s rewrite, “There’s innocent blood on pro-choice hands,” downplays the struggle of LGBTQ+ individuals. If this was intentional, it furthers the injustice our institution says we are supposed to become more aware of. If it was done in negligence, then our chorus of queer voices begging for equality is exhausting itself for nothing.

This is not to say that I would disregard a separate letter on the pro-life movement. In fact, I would be overjoyed to read a pro-life piece that advocates for those who are transgender, fighting HIV/AIDS, kicked out of their households for being LGBTQ+ and discriminated against at school or in the workplace for their sexual orientation/gender identity. Populations such as the LGBTQ+ community constantly face persecution, yet receive little to no help from those allegedly most dedicated to preserving human life. Shaft directly linking Lindemann’s letter suggests that her pro-life stance is one that stands in opposition to the marginalized LGBTQ+ community. Queer individuals have the right to life, too, and should be respected. 

I write this to stress the urgency of individuals with privilege using it to speak out for minority groups of any kind, rather than against them. It is impossible to say you love your neighbors and foster a spirit of inclusion without doing so. Take it upon yourself to research how to be an active ally and put those practices to work rather than waiting for issues to affect you. We are called as Notre Dame students to take note of struggling communities and help raise them up. It’s time we get to work.

Alex Bakeis


Oct. 3

The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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