An LGBTQ dance will go ahead at Marquette University despite conservative demands that the dance be cancelled.
The Milwaukee school’s first-ever “Pride Prom” is scheduled for this coming Saturday. Some 18,000 people signed a conservative group’s petition asking the prom be cancelled. But students, and even more importantly the University’s leadership, have firmly rejected that demand. In a statement, the University said:
“Precisely because Catholicism at its best seeks to be inclusive, we embrace conversations and events that increase our understanding of diverse individuals and their faith experiences. . .Marquette strives at every level to foster a culture of inclusion. . .We support our LGBT community in ways that are both pastoral and education, recognizing that they have an important voice that we must include in our conversations.”
The University added a pointed note about the Church’s teaching against “rash judgment” of one’s neighbor and the Church’s commitment to non-discrimination.
“Pride Prom” is sponsored by Marquette’s LGBTQ Resource Center and more than two dozen campus groups. Last fall, the Center’s coordinator, Enrique Tejada, III, said there was hope that the event could be “a space that can be utilized for healing, support, and joyful fun,” welcoming people of all ages, as well as families.
“‘I’m personally excited for it, and I know a lot of other students who are excited for it. I think it’s going to be well-received by the students of Marquette as well as the greater community. . .There are always people who will stand on the side and say ‘no,’ but we know the university stands behind us.'”
Queer student Charla Replogle told Wisconsin Public Radio that the event is an important event for LGBTQ students:
“‘Sometimes I feel like it’s hard to be religious and queer at the same time. . .There are some people who like to make it difficult when it’s not really that difficult.'”
Elsewhere, Marquette alumni showed their support with a fundraiser. Cameron Sanchez and Paige Gardner established a Milwaukee fundraiser called “Black Out Hate” that benefited a local LGBT charity. Sanchez said the conservative group’s attack on Marquette was “an inspiration,” reported TMJ4.
Marquette University has not always had such a positive LGBT record. In 2010, a controversy erupted after the University withdrew an employment offer to a potential dean based on speculation that she was a lesbian. That same year, a campus student organization expelled its vice-president after he came out as gay.
But since then, University officials have made positive changes including LGBT masses, an LGBT+ Alumni Council, and most notably, an LGBTQ Resource Center that was re-opened in 2017. The University’s decision to stand by its LGBTQ students in this most recent controversy about “Pride Prom” is commendable. It signals not only their commitment to supporting LGBT students on campus, but their unwillingness to concede to right-wing attacks which have so often stymied LGBT inclusion in the Church. In doing so, they truly live the school’s motto, “Be the difference.”
—Robert Shine, New Ways Ministry, April 11, 2018