- A Queer Dialogue on The Gay Rub
The issue of homosexuality has been one of the most debated topics in recent years, especially within Catholic circles. In addition, the Catholic Church’s stance on gay rights continues to be a source of confusion, as official acceptance of LGBTQ people emerges on a seemingly intermittent basis. Despite the confusion, Pope Francis continues to try to persuade Church leaders to support his more compassionate attitude towards the LGBTQ community. In his interview with the Argentine daily newspaper, La Nacion, in October 2014,1 Pope Francis stated, “We come across this reality all the time in the confessional: a father and a mother whose son or daughter is in that situation. We have to find a way to help that father or that mother to stand by their son or daughter.”
Inspired by its unique Jesuit Catholic mission, Loyola Marymount University (LMU) recognizes and cherishes the dignity of each individual, regardless of age, culture, faith, ethnicity, race, gender, sexual orientation, language, disability, or social class. It is through this mission that LMU chooses to accompany students on their journey of self-exploration as they become humans fully alive. As a Catholic Jesuit institution, we are committed to finding God in all things and in each other. Each member of the LMU community is called to treat each other with care and respect, and to value and treasure differences in the spirit of the Jesuit principle of cura personalis, by treating people with respect for their unique qualities, gifts, and challenges as individuals. Through the work of the Office of LGBT Student Services, we are committed to the holistic development of all students as they discover how their talents can be used to create a more just world. In partnership with our faculty colleagues, the office strives to create a learning [End Page 102] environment where this discovery occurs through a dynamic integration of a student’s entire college experience.
In 2010, LMU was one of the first Jesuit universities to establish an office for LGBTQ students. Loyola Marymount University’s Office of LGBT Student Services is dedicated to promoting equality, visibility, and inclusion of LGBTQ students within the University community. The office sponsors events designed to educate and foster a dialogue about LGBTQ issues on campus and serves as the primary resource and support center for students of all orientations and gender identities. The Office of LGBT Student Services maintains fidelity to the university’s Catholic Jesuit heritage and character by attending to the needs—both social and intellectual— of all students and by fostering knowledge and justice on issues having to do with gender and sexuality. LMU supports the educational and intellectual exploration of issues of gender and sexuality as it works to foster human dignity and justice. The prevention of sexual violence and discrimination based on gender or sexuality are paramount issues that the LMU community and college campuses across the nation must continue to address with urgency and commitment.
Serving as the first director of the Office of LGBT Student Services at LMU, I have had the humbling opportunity to help build a strong foundation that supports LGBTQ students and provide an environment where the LGBTQ community is understood and celebrated. With the support of the administration, faculty, staff, students, and alumni, the Office has been able to flourish. The Office is uniquely positioned at a Jesuit Catholic university and has the opportunity to engage a campus community eager to learn and explore topics related to sexuality. One such event took place during Rainbow Week 2014. Rainbow Week is a celebration of LGBTQ life and culture through various educational and social programs, which provides the LMU community with the opportunity to engage in dialogue related to sexual orientation and gender. One of the highlights of the week’s events was an art exhibit titled The Gay Rub by Steven Reigns, a highly respected writing workshop leader who was appointed to be the first poet laureate of West Hollywood in 2014.
I had the opportunity to sit down with Steven to discuss his creative process and the significance of having his art displayed...