Those “I am” shirts have become a tradition in Georgetown’s LGBTQ community: they act not only as a visible indicator of what Saucedo calls the “invisible identity” of those who identify as LGBTQ, but as a demonstration of solidarity among allies.
Another upcoming event on October 25, titled “Coming Out as an Ally: Beyond the Basics,” hopes to address the true meaning of being an LGBTQ ally.
“Plenty of people will say, ‘Oh, I’m an ally,’ but we’re having this workshop to establish how to be an ally in more than just words, what actions you can take to become a force in the LGBTQ community. We should have a great turnout for that.”
Honoring Our Histories, Wednesday’s headline event, marked the fifth anniversary of the Out for Change Campaign with the first open question and answer session with President DeGioia on the state of LGBTQ affairs at Georgetown. “Things like this certainly wouldn’t have happened five years ago,” said GU Pride President Meghan Ferguson (COL ’15).
The environment in 2007 was far more hostile towards the LGBTQ community. “GU Pride tried to deliver a letter to President DeGioia’s office, back when the university wasn’t acknowledging anti-gay hate crimes which sent students to the hospital. When students tried to deliver a petition letter to him, anybody wearing an “I am” shirt wasn’t allowed into Healy Hall. It’s something that has been a very secretive and that the university has never actually justified,” recalled Saucedo.
Out for Change, however, was a success that lead the administration to create the LGBTQ Resource center, a first among Jesuit universities. Next on the group’s agenda is implementing GUSA’s LGBTQ Safe Transitions Working Group Report. The report began as a request for a “LGBTQ-friendly” checkbox in the CHARMS system but became, as GUSA President Clara Gustafson (SFS ’13) puts it, “A more comprehensive, 15 page document of suggestions for making Georgetown a more welcoming environment, not just for LGBTQ students but for any minority that comes to Georgetown.”
The plan now includes an expanded blue light emergency system, the addition of a non-discrimination clause in the student housing agreement, and lays the groundwork for gender-neutral housing.
Thomas Lloyd (SFS ’15) chose Coming Out Day to launch the Catholic Association of Students for Equality, a national coalition of LGBTQ student groups at Catholic universities. “The main purpose of the group is to create a support network for all of us and share our experiences of what it’s like being queer on a Catholic campus or being queer and Catholic,” explained Ferguson. With nearly ten schools on board already, the organization is off to a tremendous start.
“We’ve come quite far in the past five years but there are still things we need to make sure that we don’t get complacent. We need to acknowledge that we can’t just let our efforts stop. We need to use our position to help other people, other causes, and other schools.”
Photo Julia Maddera