Regarding your article “BC Shuts Down Gay Dance” (News and Features, This Just In, December 9), I think the gay community of Boston College should follow the example of John Paul II: when he was a bishop in Poland under the Communists, he led a mock procession to defy the ban on public exhibition of religious themes. Similarly, BC’s gay community could have a dance with a Judy Garland theme and everyone who comes gets to wear a boutonniere with Judy’s photo. I think that the power-puffed hate mongers and butchy boys of the football team would not show. This would allow the relaxed free thinkers to have fun. The straights would be people you would want to meet, and the gays could have a “welcoming environment” with true sincerity and not just lip service by the administration, who offer only fake acceptance.
As a BC doctoral student and an alumnus of Holy Cross (and a visiting instructor there), I often feel that Catholic colleges and universities are not yet doing all they can to serve the educational and spiritual needs of all their students in matters of human sexuality. BC’s actions toward its GLBT students often give me reason to be ashamed of my association with the school and the faith it purports to represent — a faith that actually teaches that violence is wrong, charity is blessed, and dancing in celebration can be an act of Christian fellowship. Some administrators’ actions regarding the “Safe Zone” and AIDS Awareness dance co-sponsored by BC’s Gay Leadership Council (GLC) and several other student groups demonstrate that their faith is in the influence of some conservative alumni and their checkbooks. (When will they learn that conservative alumni aren’t the only ones willing to withhold financial support?)
Worse than their initial cowardice, however, have been those administrators’ ongoing attempts to discredit the students — gay and straight alike — who were planning the event. For example, in an egregious distortion of the truth, Dean Robert Sherwood released an open letter to the BC community in which he claimed that a student leader had “graphically described the type of sexually explicit behavior that could be expected at the event.” This letter was a shameless appeal to the myths of homosexual promiscuity and hypersexuality. Perhaps it’s been a long time since Dean Sherwood has been to a Catholic-school dance, but the days of priests and nuns wandering the floor admonishing students to “leave room for the Holy Spirit” are long gone. However, no campus event would permit truly explicit sexual behavior — of any orientation — nor should it.
On Friday, December 9, a week after the dance was to have taken place, members of the GLC held a rally, just as a significant snowstorm was kicking into high gear. Despite their deep disappointment, despite looming finals, despite the snow, more than 100 students (and far too few faculty) joined together to cheer speeches in favor of equality and tolerance, to contribute money to the fight against AIDS, to affirm the love at the center of their faith and their education, and to dance.
If Catholic higher education can’t see its way clear to let students dance for charity and against violence, it had better start calling itself something else entirely.
George F. Grattan
Regarding your December 16 cover: I’m just curious ... if a movie depicting a heterosexual love affair had just opened, would you have titled it “Animal Lust” and associated it with bestiality?