Georgetown will host the second annual IgnatianQ Conference March 27-29 for LGBTQ students and their allied groups from a variety of Jesuit and Catholic universities across the country.
According to Council Director Brian Council (MSB ‘16), members of Georgetown communities will participate in conference events and breakout sessions, including an interfaith panel with Rabbi Rachel Gartner and multiple speeches from alumni.
Vice President for Mission and Ministry Fr. Kevin O’Brien will give an opening address and prayer at the conference.
“Campus Ministry supports the IgnatianQ conference because of its mission to deepen the faith lives of participants and build community across Jesuit universities,” O’Brien wrote in an email to the Voice.
GU Pride has led the organization efforts of this conference since Georgetown won the bid last May to host it this year. GU Pride President Thomas Lloyd (SFS ‘15) has expressed gratitude for the support that the conference has received from a variety of offices across Georgetown’s campus, including Campus Ministry and the Office of the President.
“[Campus Ministry’s support] sends such a powerful message to the students who come to this conference, who may feel that their identity is irreconcilable with their family, with their faith, with their tradition,” Lloyd said.
The theme of this year’s conference, “Forming contemplative communities to ignite action,” was chosen to guide efforts to deepen relationships between Georgetown and the other universities’ LGBTQ communities, according to both Council and Lloyd. Last year’s inaugural conference at Fordham University began the dialogue between these schools on what it means to be both a person in the LGBTQ community and a person of faith. Council anticipates attendance at the conference to be double the size of last year’s. He expects around 150 to 160 students.
“It’s going to be a bit different from last year. I think it’s going to cover a lot more,” said Lexi Dever (COL ‘16), a member of the media and communications team for IgnatianQ. The conference will touch on topics such as LGBTQ families and the issues of gender and sexuality studies as academic fields, according to Dever.
Lloyd noted that Georgetown’s LGBTQ community has gained more freedom to hold a variety of events since the founding of GU Pride in 1989.
“We have a lot of leeway [at Georgetown],” Dever said. “We’ve gained a lot. We can do a lot here in general. We have events that a lot of other schools could never even dream of having. We have to make sure that we don’t do too much of that sort of thing during this conference because then it might not be able to go to another school later. We want everyone to be able to host this, but we also want to show them the way we experience our community here at Georgetown.”
According to Council, each school that participates brings its own unique bit to the conversations at the conference. Lloyd believes that, by having Georgetown host the conference this year, GU Pride will be able to demonstrate its strength in organizing as an LGBTQ group on a Catholic campus.
“There is something in our [LGBTQ community] history of organizing, and identifying needs, and meeting those needs that any LGBTQ student group, especially those that are less developed or have less of a history, can benefit from.” Lloyd said.
Council hopes that, in addition to bringing together the community of LGBTQ students at Jesuit schools, this conference can also creater stronger connections within Georgetown’s LGBTQ community itself. Registration for the conference is free for all Georgetown students so that all allied groups can attend and participate in the conference experience.
“It brings the community together,” Council said. “In many ways, it’s a very diverse group of students, but I would say that this has probably been one of our most successful events when it comes to encouraging students who normally attend Pride events or not to be involved.”