The posters began popping up on Halloween.
“The Catholic Church teaches what about LGBTQ+?!?!” they read.
The Theology on Tap event advertised guest speaker Emmanuel “Manny” Gonzalez would speak about “the sensitive topic of same-sex attraction.”
The posters created a flare-up of concern among LGBT+ students on campus, and the event left some unsure of how the event should be received and handled by students.
“Long story short, I’m Catholic. I’m a man who experiences same-sex attraction. For years I really struggled to reconcile my Catholic faith with my sexuality,” Gonzalez said.
He shared his story with Catholic Mavs and others who attended.
“I ended up coming back to the church four years ago; had a conversion. Now I live a life according to the church,” Gonzalez said. “I try to live chastely and I’m here today to spread awareness to the reality of this experience; the reality of our brothers and sisters who have LGBT+ experiences who desire to be seen and known and loved by the church.”
Living according to God’s will as a man experiencing same-sex attraction, in Gonzalez’s eyes, means living chastely. This includes no sexual or marital relationships between two individuals of the same sex.
“The church teaches that sex is reserved between one man and one woman within the context of marriage. Anything outside of that shouldn’t be had. Our bodies were made for more,” Gonzalez said.
However, he made it clear that having same-sex attractions is not a sin.
“The attractions themselves are not sinful,” Gonzalez stated. “If you’re attracted to the same sex you cannot control that.”
E Cummings, a regular at the LGBT Center, was concerned the event might be homophobic. They also wondered about the university’s role in promoting hurtful content.
“It makes people part of the LGBT community not feel as safe here. If the school is supporting potentially homophobic things, what else could the school be supporting that is directly homophobic?” Cummings asked. “If the school is advertising events that make us feel unsafe, we may not feel as welcome.
They said LBGTQ+ people should be free to live their lives free from religious dogma.
“It’s homophobic because you’re saying, ‘Oh, you can’t live your life to the extent you want to live it too. You can’t be in a relationship that you truly would be happy in’,” Cummings said. “That’s essentially what the church is saying: you can be gay, but don’t marry people. You can’t marry the consenting adult that you feel attracted to. And that’s homophobic; it’s discrimination because you can’t marry who you feel attracted to, but straight people can.”
Yet Gonzalez challenged the question “How do we prove that the Catholic church isn’t homophobic?” during the Q&A portion of the evening.
“I think each and every one of you can prove that the Catholic church isn’t homophobic by not being homophobic yourself, and by loving your brothers and sisters who have LGBT+ experiences,” Gonzalez said. “We have to acknowledge the reality that there are people who have been hurt by the church and there are men and women in the church who have been hateful, discriminative, and wrongly treated our brothers and sisters in the LGBT community.”
Gonzalez explained that members of the Catholic church should be willing to walk side by side with the LGBT+ community and listen. He shared a personal example of a close friend who is actively in a gay relationship.
“He doesn’t think that because I’m Catholic, I’m homophobic,” said Gonzalez. “The Catholicism is beside the point; he knows confidently that I love him because I’m there.”
Regarding the university’s goals of diversity, equity, and inclusion, the school’s website says, “We believe that a diverse campus is critical in order for our students, faculty and staff to be engaged and productive members of a global society.” The gender and sexuality programs tab says, “Gender and Sexuality Programs affirms and supports all individuals with varying gender identities, sexual orientations, biological sexes, and those who are victims/survivors of intimate partner violence.”
As a follow-up to the sit-in against homophobia taking place last week on Mav Ave in Centennial Student Union, a march against homophobia is scheduled for noon today.
Header photo: Guest Speaker Emmanuel “Manny” Gonzalez spoke to students at a Theology on Tap event regarding chastity and same-sex attraction. (Lilly Anderson/The Reporter)
Write to Lilly Schmidt at firstname.lastname@example.org