LGBTQ and Jesuit Communities Unite

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By Emily Rochotte

This weekend’s Ignatian Q conference was the first of its kind at Fordham. (Courtesy of Emily Rochotte)

This weekend’s Ignatian Q conference was the first of its kind at Fordham. (Courtesy of Emily Rochotte

The first annual IgnatianQ, the Ignatian LGBTQ & Ally conference, was hosted this past weekend at Fordham University. Over 100 people from one-fourth of all Jesuit schools across the country attended the conference at Rose Hill on Saturday and Lincoln Center on Sunday.

A core committee of students, with the support of the Fordham Theology Department, Curran Center for American Catholic Studies, Office of Mission and Ministry, Office of the Dean of Fordham College at Rose Hill, Anthropology and Sociology Department, Women’s Studies Program, United Student Government, Center for Ethics Education and the Robert J. Anthony Fund, organized the conference.

Anthony Gatti, FCRH ’14, and Carissa Avalos, FCRH ’14, came up with the idea for IgnationQ and spearheaded the organization of the event. Gatti and Avalos modeled IgnationQ modeled after IvyQ, a conference held for the nation’s Ivy League schools to come together and create a community of LGBTQ students and allies.

“I was always modeling it off IvyQ, aside from the fact that IvyQ is not religious. It was always my intention to have other schools involved,” said Gatti. “I always was planning on having other people in the space. That’s the powerful part. That’s how ideas are spread and moved around.”

Attendees flew in from as far as the University of San Francisco and University of Seattle. University of San Francisco student Kristian Balgobin, ’16, heard about IgnatianQ while he was planning University of San Francisco’s first LGBTQ retreat.

“I wanted to come. As we were noticing, there [are] not many platforms that you can talk about spirituality and religion and intersection with identity,” said Balgobin. “For me personally, that was something I struggled with, and I wanted to see how the different perspectives would either affirm or change my mindset.”

The conference featured the spread of ideas and knowledge through presentations, networks and speakers. Monsignor Joseph G. Quinn, J.D., J.C.L. started the weekend with an opening prayer and reflection, “At the Heart of It All: See the Person First.”

Students attended breakout sessions and had time to network so they would have the chance to meet and discuss initiatives they had worked on at their campuses. Breakout session topics included “Undocumented, Unafraid, and Unapologetic: Coming out for Justice,” “Queerness, Queer Theology and Theological Inquiry” and “Family Matters: Documenting Queer Kinship.”

Jeffrey Lockhart, FCRH ‘13, presented “A Sociological Perspective on the Status of LGBTQ Students at Jesuit Colleges and Universities.” Lockhart’s presentation was based on his undergraduate research, “Que(e)ry: LGBTQ Discrimination Perceptions Survey. “

“I chose my presentation topic because it’s what I know and what I feel comfortable talking as an expert on,” said Lockhart. “I ended up doing a lot of reading of direct quotes of people’s experiences and specific numbers and statistics because I come from a sociological perspective. These are mostly organizers, pretty much everyone here is an activist organizer or leads their campus pride group, and that’s our perspective coming into this. I think it’s important to talk about the people who are not us.”

J. Patrick Hornbeck II, Ph.D., gave the keynote address. Hornbeck’s speech addressed the question that had lingered throughout the conference, “Where do we go from here?”

“This is a remarkable, remarkable event, and I hope that IgnatianQ continues on,” said Dr. Hornbeck.