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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Hanging of pride flag a display of necessary support

Published: October 16, 2014
Section: Editorials

This month marks the annual observance of LGBT History Month. In addition to numerous events around campus marking the event, such as the Trisk coffeehouse, the Catholic Chaplaincy on campus has also supported the cause. Father Walter Cuenin and the Catholic community have placed a gay pride flag on display outside the chapel.

We at The Brandeis Hoot support and thank Father Cuenin and the Chaplaincy for their endorsement of LGBT History Month. Cuenin has long been a supporter of equality, stating in a 2012 article from The Hoot that “although the church does not support gay marriage, it does welcome gay people.” He also has demonstrated his support throughout the years, by hanging a rainbow peace flag inside the chapel. This flag can be seen year-round, while the gay pride flag outside the chapel is a new development. Father Cuenin is also a official LGBT ally on campus, through his work with Trisk. He also continuously makes himself available and accessible to struggling students in his role as a confidential resource.

As a university that is home to both sexual and religious diversity, it is appropriate that religious leaders on campus become involved in this issue of respect and human rights. This is a concern that matters immensely to many students. And on a campus where student activism is so prevalent, showing such public support for such an important issue is essential.

Unfortunately, despite recent declarations by Pope Francis and other Catholic leaders supporting LGBT inclusion in religious circles, organized religion is still seen as being averse to members of that community. The Catholic Church has been particularly strict on these issues throughout history, and this has resulted in a reputation that is not so easy to change. Father Cuenin’s choice to fly a flag celebrating and welcoming members of the LGBT community obviously cannot change the entirety of Catholicism’s opinion on the issue. But nevertheless, it sends a message that he and the Brandeis Catholic community welcome people of all backgrounds. As Cuenin said in a past interview with The Hoot, it is important to support all people, despite any differences between them.

Faith is an important institution in the lives of many people, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender or identity. This flag on the campus chapel is a visual representation of how religious faith can help bring strength to the movement for equality. More than anything, this flag shows that members from all corners of the Brandeis community are working toward a safe and inclusive campus for everyone.