In order to understand what it means to support members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) community, Saint Mary’s College is hosting Ally Week, Laurel Javors, vice president of the Straight and Gay Alliance (SAGA), said. “[Ally Week] is a week to honor the brave allies supporting the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning community,” Javors said. The week will also provide an opportunity for others to come out as an ally and friend of the LGBTQ community, Javors said.Ally Week began Monday and offered free t-shirts and rainbow ribbons. A booth was set up in the Student Center Atrium during lunch and dinner and offered information about what it means to be an ally.“We hope that more students will realize that being an ally does not mean a person is gay. It only means that that person support human rights for every human,” Javors said. “We also hope to combat some of the homophobia on campus, [for example] tearing down signs advertising our events, using the word gay as a synonym for dumb or speaking poorly of our LGBTQ brothers and sisters.”Events will continue throughout the week, Javors said. A discussion will be held Tuesday titled “Catholic Theological Union: Common Ground Dialogue on Homosexuality” in Stapleton Lounge at 8 p.m. During the dialogue, students, faculty and staff are invited to hear a variety of perspectives about homosexuality from members of the Saint Mary’s community.The film “Prayers for Bobby” will be shown Wednesday. The movie will take place in Vander Vennet at 6 p.m. “[The film] is a Lifetime movie based on the true story of a teenage boy who commits suicide after feeling rejection from the religious messages instilled in him by his community and his mother,” Javors said.“In Good Conscience,” a movie about Sr. Jean Gramick, a Catholic sister who is working to gain acceptance and support for the LGBTQ community within the Catholic Church, will be presented at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in Vander Vennet.The week will conclude with rainbow ribbons, information and any extra t-shirts put on display in the Cushwa-Leighton Library.The week is sponsored by SAGA, the Justice Education department, the Center for Spirituality, the Office of Civic and Social Engagement, the Social Work Club and the Africa Faith and Justice Network.Javors said SAGA has worked hard to insure Saint Mary’s College remains a safe place for LGBTQ persons and allies.“It is a place where all are welcome to be themselves and not have to pretend to be something other else in order to appease the status quo,” Javors said. “Just as Christ welcomed those on the fringes of Palestinian society, so do we as members of the Straight and Gay Alliance.”Javors said SAGA has been on campus for several years. The group has hosted a variety of events to provide support and love for the LGBTQ community.“I want to ensure that our heterosexual allies know how much they are needed in the lives of LGBTQ persons. Without them, it would be even harder than it already is for LGBTQ persons to come out,” Javors said. “Our allies provide us with hope, support and love when others in society reject us. This is an opportunity for more students to become allies by learning how simple it is to be an ally. The only two requirements are tolerance and love.”
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