Friday, September 23, 2005

Orange T-shirt Day at ND

Next Thursday, the unrecognized Gay-Straight Alliance at Notre Dame will attempt yet another "Gay? Fine By Me." t-shirt day. In recent years this has been surrounded by controversy, as the message of the shirts is inherently ambiguous, causing confusion. For information on this event, check out the AllianceND website.

Here is an article I wrote in 2004 expressing my views on the shirts. Again, I would like to stress that I believe that homosexuals should be welcomed and loved as any other person made in the image and likeness of God. My objection is to the harmful glorification and approval of disordered acts. In fact, in talking to someone on campus who counsels homosexuals here at ND, I was told that there are homosexuals on campus who are deeply disturbed and offended by these shirts. Something to ponder...

19 Comments:

At 4:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I read your article. First, let me say that I agree with you that the slogan is an odd one. I have never liked it, but alas, I don't make the shirts. But I do wear one every single "orange shirt day" and from your article I guess I would fall into group #2. But unlike the way you categorize the group in your article, I do not wear it to say to the homosexuals on campus that "I don't care what you do" but that I accept you as you are and hope that you can find a community of support here. To slogan portrays this poorly and I think it's a shame. I attribute it to the fact that it is difficult to organize this campaign and get the word out regarding why the shirts are worn when it can't be officially advertised. I also attribute it to a lack of coherence behind the shirt campaign. But nevertheless, I wear it to show acceptance for the homosexuals on campus and the fact that I do not accept as "truth" your moral views about it. I know you think its "compassionate" to say - "I love you despite the fact that you are inherently disordered." And it would be if I agreed that this was an inherent disorder. But I do not believe as such and nor do many others who attend this school. So while the school has a right to express it's view by not supporting the homosexual "agenda" (no recognition of Alliance ND or it's campaigns), until it is a requirement that all students who come to ND be orthodox Catholics, I will continue to exercise my right to disagree and show my support as I see fit for the students on this campus.

 
At 9:20 AM, Anonymous Becky said...

Anon,

Thanks for your thoughtful comments. As you can probably tell from the article, I was mostly addressing Catholics who have decided that this method of "support" is the best way to go. I disagree and actually think it is harmful for a Catholic to wear these shirts.

I have no problem with you exercise your right to freedom of speech (besides the fact that that right doesn't actually exist on Notre Dame's campus). I recognize that we disagree about the "disorder" thing, but that's a difference about Church teaching more than anything else.

My question remains, though. What about those homosexuals on campus who do not feel "supported" by these t-shirts, but rather, attacked?

 
At 12:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In terms of freedom of speech- of course private organizations have a right to restrict it on their property. My point is only that ND would have to basically say- we will not allow any viewpoint inconsistent with Catholic teaching to be expressed on our campus at all, whether through clothing or discussion. I dont think that's a path ND as an academic insitution would want to go down. The exact parameters of that are of course open to debate, but I think forbidding students to wear a t-shirt expressing their views would be a step ND "should" not take even if they technically "could".

Regarding the gay students who feel attacked by the shirt campaign, their concerns should obviously be paramount. As I already mentioned, I think the campaign lacks a clear purpose and coherence. Those students should be involved in efforts to clarify it. Are there changes they would like to see to the campaign? If so, what are they? Perhaps an alternate way of showing support. I think it would also depend on how many feel attacked- do most of the GLBTQ students on campus feel that the campaign (or some alternate more coherent form of it) is a good thing? If that's the case, I would say that you'll never be able to design a campaign that will please everyone. But of course to the extent the people you are trying to support feel attacked, those feelings should be considered more important than someone who just doesn't like the idea of support for a "gay agenda" in general. I think the solution to this is open discussion of the possible ways to create a welcoming environment for GLBTQ students on campus and perhaps a rethinking of the campaign.

One last comment (and i know this is long). But even though I disagree w/ you on the "disordered" label, I don't lack a respect for the sincerity of your view. I don't think you have bad intentions. But to the extent I disagree, I also feel that it's important in some way to show solidarity w/ the GLBTQ students on campus who also don't view themselves as disorderd and let them know that there are people who support them on their terms (vs. your show of support through compassion and love- but on Catholic terms).

 
At 8:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, Becky, your evidence for people feeling hurt by the shirts is shady at best. I have been told by gay friends around ND that seeing the orange shirts is comforting to them and they have thanked me for doing it. I don't know who this friend of yours is, but the campus ministry employee responsible for gay and lesbian ministry himself has one of these shirts.

 
At 8:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why don't you ask an actual gay student what they think of the shirts?

 
At 8:16 AM, Blogger roberto21abigail said...

Just passing by your blog and though you'd like this website.

 
At 11:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You really sound like a stuck up, pope-wannabe catholic zealot that wants to preach on how she feels every catholic should dress and act. catholic taliban

 
At 4:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

can you explain exactly why some of the homosexuals you talked to were deeply hurt and offended by the shirts?

 
At 4:53 PM, Anonymous Becky said...

Clarification: these were individuals on campus who spoke with a priest friend of mine. I did not speak directly to them.

The objection was that these homosexuals on campus recognize that they have a disordered tendency and they want to live chaste lives. The message of the shirts angers and offends them, because it tells them that they don't have to overcome anything; that their inclinations are "fine" and that they should just act on them. They have learned and accepted how to carry this cross and deal with this struggle - the shirts say that it shouldn't be a struggle at all.

You can see how this might be hurtful to someone who is struggling with same-sex attraction. You could imagine a homosexual responding to the shirts by saying, "You're telling me that it's fine that I struggle with a disorder? What does that mean? Do you think that I shouldn't try to live chastely? What do you know about my struggles, anyway?"

I'll use another bad example to illustrate the point. Think about how a person struggling with alcoholism would feel if you had a shirt that said, "Alcoholic? Fine by Me." The alcoholic would most definitely react negatively towards the message, as being an alcoholic is not really 'fine' by them. Homosexuality, like alcoholism, is a disorder that can lead to sinful, harmful acts.

Like it or not, there are homosexuals on campus who understand that what they have is a disordered inclination. When people wear these shirts, are they being selective in the homosexuals they are addressing?

 
At 7:37 PM, Anonymous anon#1 said...

as I said Becky, there are homosexuals on campus who do NOT see themselves as disordered. Are they the majority? who knows. All either of us have is the anectdotal evidence of a few people we know. The point is that not everyone agrees with your truth and until notre dame requires that all its students do, there will be students gay and straight who unite to show support for the gay community on campus not on your terms but on our own.

 
At 11:32 AM, Anonymous wondertwin said...

Let's try to be a bit productive here. I think that the "Gay? Fine by me." slogan on the shirt is well... a bit odd and doesn't make too much sense to me. I have always thought there could be a better slogan - maybe even one that will possibly be ok for those who believe homosexuals have "a disorder" and for those who do not. Either way, we should be loving our fellow humans.

So here is an open question to all who comment on this blog:

Can you think of a better slogan for the shirts that would be ok to both factions?

 
At 10:55 PM, Blogger Patrick Roach said...

Slogan - Struggling with your Sexuality?
- God can help.

 
At 7:46 AM, Anonymous wondertwin said...

Interesting choice, Patrick... but that doesn't seem like it would appeal to both. Some don't consider it a struggle. It's a start though, keep 'em coming!

 
At 6:52 PM, Anonymous Becky said...

I always thought something along the lines of:

"Gay? Called to chastity, just like me." or something like that. The actual slogan is kind of corny, but I want to point out somehow that no matter what the sexual orientation, everyone is called to live a chaste life.

 
At 7:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

right but i guess we would have to nuance that. "Gay? called to live a chaste life, just like me*

*until i fall in love and decide to get married*

I appreciate your views on living a chaste life until marriage but since I would extend that right to gays, I still don't think that shows support for gays who don't view themselves as disorderd. Truthfully wondertwin I don't know that there is one slogan that truly supports both on their own terms. The gay students at Notre Dame who see themselves as disorderd certainly have adequate support from a good percentage of campus. But for the many who know that they are not disordered, there is less support for them on campus. The support is basically and effort to make them understand that they are "disorderd" people. I don't think you can please everyone on this one.

 
At 10:53 PM, Anonymous Becky said...

You're right, you probably can't please everyone.

Just a clarification: chastity does not mean virginity. Chastity means living your sexuality appropriate to your state in life. So people are called to be chaste in marriage as well. It's a lifestyle, basically. So maybe this slogan would be more appropriate for both those who think they have a disorder and those who don't. The only difference is that two people of the same sex cannot be married.

 
At 4:35 PM, Anonymous olm said...

You make a valid point about the chastity issue, Becky, but I really think that the deeper meaning to which you refer would be lost on most people. Most people probably conflate chastity and celibacy. (Just think about the idea of a "chastity belt" - it comes off when you get married.)

Of course, you could footnote chastity and have the definition on the back of the shirt - how appropriate for a law student! I might buy that shirt just to support creative t-shirts, even though I probably wouldn't wear it.

 
At 6:29 PM, Anonymous wondertwin said...

If they did that, OLM, the footnote would have to be about 5 times longer than the phrase on the shirt!

 
At 10:11 PM, Anonymous OLM said...

Oh, but that's the point of it, Wondertwin. The beauty lies in the nerdiness.

 

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