As my Boston College experience comes to an end, I am saddened because although I have loved my time here, I have found myself unsupported in a significant aspect of my life. As a gay man at BC, the lack of support and resources for the GLBTQ community has continuously frustrated and upset me. It is my belief that BC is a detrimental environment for GLBTQ individuals, both students and staff. Additionally, BC’s lack of support runs contrary to many of the Jesuit values I have been taught. When addressing the GLBTQ community, BC inadequately cares for the whole person.
The GLBTQ Leadership Council (GLC) has done an outstanding job supporting the GLBTQ community through UGBC. However, I am enraged that BC does not have a GLBTQ student organization. As it stands now, the only way for students to support the GLBTQ community directly is to fund GLC as part of UGBC, because the BC administration has continuously denied the creation of a GLBTQ student organization. GLC houses nearly all resources for GLBTQ students, and runs all the social programming for GLBTQ students. Currently, the only GLBTQ related registered undergraduate student organization is Allies.
GLC has faced many challenges since its inception, confronting homophobia on many fronts. There are countless examples, but I will just name a few. First, the annual celebration of the GLBTQ community in December is called a GALA instead of a dance, because “dance” would insinuate that GLBTQ students could bring dates and would be supported as GLBTQ couples. Second, earlier this year when the administration discovered that GLC ran a program called Queer Peers, which created safe spaces for students to learn more about the GLBTQ experience, the program was temporarily shut down. After a seven-month delay, Queer Peers has thankfully returned as an institutionalized program, due to the hard work of GLC. However, concerns over the brand name have led to a new title: LGBTQ 101. Third and most recently, GLC organized an incredibly successful event, “GLBTQ in the Workplace,” which the Career Center declined to co-sponsor, despite the fact that members of many prominent organizations and institutions, such as EY, Deloitte, and the Harvard Business School, supported GLC by serving on the panel. A homophobic force within the higher administration continues to impede GLC’s progress.
The lack of resources for GLBTQ students at BC is staggering. There should and must be a GLBTQ Resource Center on campus; many other universities have already established them, including Georgetown, a Jesuit university. Currently only two “GLBTQ contacts” are listed on the university website under GLBTQ resources and both are in the Dean of Students Office (DOS). The first contact is the Assistant Dean of Students Outreach and Support, a full time staff member who handles GLBTQ student outreach as part of the job description, yet GLBTQ is not in the job title. The second contact is a graduate student in the DOS who serves as the graduate assistant for GLBTQ Outreach and Support. I know both of the current “GLTBQ contacts” personally and they are doing an outstanding job with the limited resources and support they have from the higher administration. However, I believe that GLBTQ resources should not be grouped into DOS. Rather, BC needs an independent GLBTQ Resource Center with full time staff members whose sole purpose is to support the GLBTQ community, similar to the support structures of the Thea Bowman AHANA and Intercultural Center and Women’s Center.
On a more personal note, I struggled significantly during my junior year because it was the first time in my life that I was openly gay and in addition, I was processing being a survivor of sexual assault. I found myself breaking down frequently, as sadness and confusion overwhelmed me. I needed a resource to turn to; I needed a GLBTQ Resource Center. I felt uncomfortable accessing the survivor resources at the Women’s Center as a gay male. The only solution seemed to be Counseling Services. While the Women’s Center and Counseling Services are wonderful and greatly needed organizations within the BC community, they are not enough for GLBTQ students. I have had very positive experiences with both, but it disheartens me that there are not more institutionalized resources available. In an effort to secure more support for future GLBTQ and ally students, I have signed the “For Here All Are One” letter, pledging not to donate to BC as an institution until there is a formally acknowledged resource center for GLBTQ students on campus.
Through my involvement at BC I have come to know the Jesuit values very well. By being reflective, attentive, and loving, I have discerned my own identity and recognized that I am gay and that God loves all of me. I was made in the image and likeness of God; therefore, I am good and deserve love. God created me gay and He makes no mistakes. God knows that I am gay, He has always known. The Catholic Jesuit ideal of ‘cura personalis’ encourages us not only to strive to care for the whole person, but also to help provide the means and opportunities for that person to succeed holistically. I know that God cares about me, but I am left asking myself, does BC care about me and the rest of the GLBTQ community?
All I know is that if BC does care, it clearly does not care enough. As an institution that preaches authenticity, BC seems very hypocritical. I am told to be my most authentic self, yet I am not fully supported when I am my most authentic self. At graduation, I will stand with my peers knowing that there are many closeted students who are struggling with their identity and I believe that BC’s lack of support is much to blame. Although I will miss BC, I am ready to leave an institution that lacks the resources and support the GLBTQ community needs and deserves. I hope that in the future BC chooses to live out its Jesuit values by caring for the whole person of every person.