Panel examines overlap of LGBTQ, faith experiences

Despite the Catholic church’s official stance opposing same-sex marriage, the two sides are necessarily diametrically opposed, according to a panel of speakers who discussed the overlap of LGTBQ and faith experiences.

Sponsored by University Ministry, the event last month included Hsiao-Lan Hu, a professor of Women and Gender Studies at Detroit Mercy; student Cari Gamlin; University

Ministry member Stephanie Zellner; and Bob Shine, associate director of New Ways Ministry and a bisexual Catholic.

The bulk of the event involved the panelists explaining their experiences as members of the LGBTQ and faith communities and how that overlap has affected their lives. Their experiences ranged from ostracizing and unwelcome to acceptance and affirmation from family, friends, and congregations.

Johnson opened up the floor for audience questions during the event, giving those present an opportunity to ask the panelists about further experiences, the attitude of different religions toward LGBTQ persons, and any advice they had for the young people figuring out who they are.

“Don’t have the pressure to come out just because they’ve heard that that’s a good starting point. Be more authentically yourself,” Gamlin said.

The panelists urged audience members to talk to trusted individuals about these issues and to remember that this is a part of one’s identity and no one can tell you how to express that. “You don’t owe anybody anything,” Zellner said in her response.

The theme of finding self-identity in more than just your sexuality was repeated as well.

As a Jesuit and Mercy institution, UDM was founded on Catholic values. Panelists acknowledged that the church’s history with members of the LGBTQ community has been

rocky, but the future looks bright at Catholic universities.

“Catholic College graduates are more affirming than those who attend other universities, producing graduates who advocate and affirm LGBT,” Shine said.

Audience members also had some good things to say that panelists agreed with during the Q&A portion. “God transcends language and identity,” said one audience member.

“We are made in God’s image and likeness,” said another.