Loyola Christian group offers spiritual outlet for gay religious students

NHI TIEU

One of Loyola’s Christian Life Communities is reemerging on campus as a way for students to share their feelings about sexual orientation, gender identity and its relation to religious and spiritual beliefs.

Skittles, a CLC program that began in 2009, is a student-run organization that started with a group of students interested in exploring different aspects of faith from a gay perspective. The goal of the organization is to provide a welcoming and comfortable environment for students to discuss spiritual and religious beliefs from an LGBT perspective.

“Recognizing that our GLBTQ sisters and brothers are often excluded as the ‘other’ in society and in many faith communities, Skittles offers a safe place for discussion and discovery,” said Kurt Bindewald, director of University Ministry, through email.

Skittles hopes to provide a safe place for gay students to come and discuss their spiritual beliefs, and welcomes any student interested in joining.

“LGBTQA people need, and still need, everywhere, all across the world, a safe place to talk about spirituality, religion, and sexual orientation and gender identity. A place to feel accepted, supported, loved, and valued for who they are, valued for their religious and spiritual beliefs, and valued for their inherent worth as a person,” said Madelyn Gelpi, sociology senior.

Skittles not only helps students struggling to find their faith though a gay lens, but also lends support to students struggling with religious institutions opposing views of the gay community. To help break the barrier and relate religious ideas to homosexuality, Skittles uses different prayers, readings and songs that students can reflect on and relate to their individual perceptions.

“The large religious pull against homosexuality present in today’s society often makes it very difficult for members of the LGBT community to come to terms with spiritual and religious beliefs while simultaneously trying to accept and love themselves as an LGBTQA person and having a comfortable and accepting place to discuss religious and spiritual beliefs through an LGBTQA lens is, I believe, absolutely necessary,” Gelpi said.

Skittles has different activities from week to week, but the main focus is about finding God and helping students gain a better understanding of their own feelings concerning spirituality. Skittles is open to any student interested in gaining a deeper understanding of religious beliefs and any information discussed would be confidential. Skittles protects the identities of students who join and aims to keep their participation confidential.

“The group is only really starting up now, because of the turnover in leadership and changes in membership, so we’re putting out a call to all people interested in these issues,” said Laura Quigley, assistant director of University Ministry.

Nhi Tieu can be reached at [email protected]