None of my relationships have ever worked out, and, after my last fell apart, I decided to do what I had been avoiding for so long. I explored a different aspect of my personality.

I got an app, made a profile, struck up a few conversations, and met somebody. I went to meet this person at a lovely French Cafe in Naples, just near the Mercato. The cafe closed while we were still sitting there talking. We had to leave at that point, but we kept talking. The only reason we stopped talking was because it started to rain while we were still talking by our cars. The date lasted a full six hours.

I was elated with how easy and natural the whole thing had seemed and went back to my school to talk to a friend about my feelings, though leaving out the specifics of the situation.

I told her that I had a lot of feelings bouncing around in my chest, and I could feel myself developing far too much feeling in too short a span of time. My friend, well-meaning, told me that many people in her family had met and married in less than a year, so this quick catching of feelings was normal.  “Just roll with it. It’s gonna be okay,” she assured.

Rushing into a relationship, in my mind, however, was the worst possible scenario. When I finally told her that there was an added complication, that my date had been anything but male, the change was immediate. “Oh… Oh my,” she said, with a tilt of her head and strong disapproval in every gesture of body language. I braced for the inevitable argument over Catholic theology and treatment of homosexual issues.

Differences in religion and sexuality are things that are erased on a Catholic campus of such a small size. Indeed, on several occasions I have experienced rampant homophobia. Of those, Instances of homophobia range from simply holding an arrogantly Catholic viewpoint, to using homophobic and transphobic slurs.

Until recently, I believed myself to be bisexual, but, as a Catholic, had only pursued what most people understand as a heterosexual relationship. My understanding, however, is a little different.

I wasn’t suddenly less bisexual because of my, up until this point, exclusive involvement with men. I was still attracted to women. I just devoted myself to a man for the duration of our relationship.

During our discussion, I found it both frustrating and enraging that my friend had plenty of talking points that she could only halfway articulate and never fully bring to its proper conclusion. As a Catholic lesbian who has done extensive research into the how’s and why’s, the conversation as a whole was essentially fruitless.

The proper conclusion of the how’s and why’s of the “evils” of homosexuality seem to be loosely understood by all on Ave Maria’s campus. What I have found troubling is the fact that nobody has considered the reality of applying the ideals of the church to real people.

The Catholic Church teaches that “tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.” They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.” This is the only paragraph that the catechism offers on homosexuality.

Essentially, what I am being told in this paragraph is that, if I want to get to Heaven, I need to repress a part of my identity— that I can never have a deep and meaningful sexual connection with a person that I find attractive. When you take that to its logical conclusion, it means that by the rules of the Church, I am meant to be alone until I die.

My friend who I discussed my date with did not seem to find that a palatable option in our conversation. Nor do I and yet no other conclusion was reached.  

The truth of the matter is that the only other demographic that the Church calls to lifelong chastity are priests, nuns, and monks, which I am not, nor do I ever intend to be.

The initial reaction to my sexuality was contrasted strongly by my other friend, who had been set to join us before the conversation got so deep. She responded differently when I revealed the information that elicited such a strong reaction, saying, “oh… Okay… okay. Alright, continue,” while nodding her head and processing this information. Her demeanor expressed a sense of surprise, but without judgement. She only requested that I continue the story without offering an unwarranted opinion.

There are very few people who have reacted in such a way, who simply wanted to hear the story I had to tell without caring that I was different in some way.

However, over and over, when I tell people that I’m a member of the queer community, they say, “You would be amazed at how many gay kids there are in Ave,” to which my constant response is “Where!?”

Because of the toxicity of the environment that we live in, the vast majority of LGBT+ students on this campus remain anonymous, perhaps only coming out to their close friends whom they trust without question. It is clear that environments such as these repress many demographics on a larger scale; the silent Trump majority that surprised everyone during the presidential election, anyone?

I can personally attest, though, that the closet is a suffocating and repressive environment to be trapped in especially when there is such clear homophobia lingering on campus.

The above example is neither the first nor the last.  Nor is it the most serious.

There have been conversations at meals in the cafeteria where people spit the words ‘gay agenda’ with contempt and scorn and expect no backlash because the general demographic is one of straight white Catholic adolescents. There couldn’t possibly be backlash, because obviously everybody is the same! Otherwise, why would they come here?

I made the rookie mistake of trying to discuss my views with somebody in the library. We discussed a range of subjects as my views steadily pissed her off.  Anger appeared especially when I asked for her explanations, which failed to hold weight in my eyes. When I expressed that there were things about this school that drive me mad, the girl turned to me and said, “Then why are you still here? Why don’t you leave?”

Ah, yes. Because why bother fixing the problem when you can just kick out all the troublemakers? Why bother with diversity and differences in opinion in hopes of creating a better, healthier environment, when you can just ostracize every sub-community that dares to rear its head?

It’s not as though we, as a Catholic college, are called to charity, is it?

Heavens, no! It’s not like we’re supposed to treat every person we meet with respect and dignity, is it?

Even at a university sponsored work event that I was required to attend, a person I trusted, in an attempted joke, whispered, “Sieg Heil” in my ear. When I admonished him for it, telling him that there are some things that just shouldn’t be joked about, he appeared shamefaced and apologized. But, even so, not simply as a Catholic, but most certainly as a lesbian, I am horrified.

God only knows how many other people espouse and make light of dangerous and radical ideas. The Third Reich didn’t only murder Jewish people. They killed Gypsies, LGBTQ populations, disabled people, and many other groups.

But, before you make jokes, before you condemn us for being different than you, ask yourself if you’re being charitable. It’s not a question of respecting everyone.

This environment of “respect” has exceptions.  Except the gays. Except the people of color. Except the liberals. Except the non-Catholics. The list goes on and on, and I can personally attest to it.

I’m asking you to think. Respect us as human beings. Nothing more, nothing less.

Brigid Connolly is a senior literature major attending Ave Maria University in Florida. She is the ninth of ten children and was raised in Wisconsin. Brigid enjoys sunny weather, poetry, and coffee with too much sugar.

The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.

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About Brigid Connolly

Brigid Connolly is a senior literature major attending Ave Maria University in Florida. She is the ninth of ten children and was raised in Wisconsin. Brigid enjoys sunny weather, poetry, and coffee with too much sugar.

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