By Laura Molinari, Staff Writer
Members of the new Gay & Spiritual group gathered Tuesday at 8 p.m. in Plaza Room Middle of the Student Center. Gay & Spiritual aims to create an open dialogue discussing religion, spirituality and sexuality.
Dustin Hausner and Caitlin Walsh, founders of the Gay & Spiritual group, partnered due to a strong passion for their spirituality, religion and fascination regarding LGBTQ (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Questioning) issues.
Hausner and Walsh presented the idea to the PRIDE Network before Spring Break and their group was passed.
"Everyone is welcome to this group," said Hausner. "We think religion is fascinating; LGBTQ issues are fascinating; spirituality itself is very fascinating and we want people to learn, discuss, gain more knowledge and feel more comfortable about themselves."
During the meeting, students went around in a circle and shared their beliefs and experiences with being gay and religious. Students expressed their concerns as well as their comfort with both their sexuality and spiritual beliefs.
Connor Van Ness, junior, grew up without having a strong inclination towards religion. But recently, VanNess has been leaning towards Buddhism, which teaches about enlightenment and believing in inner strength. He attended the Gay & Spiritual group because he was interested in different spiritual beliefs within the LGBTQ community.
"As someone who felt alienated and isolated by religion, the idea that the inner strength was important really resonated in me," said VanNess.
David Murray, a freshman, is a Unitarian Universalist—a religion that sets no dogma or creed. Instead, it consists of being a decent human being.
"I'm a human and everything else is details," Murray said.
Dr. David Powell, Director of LGBTQ Studies at The University, said that he is happy to know about the new Gay & Spiritual group on campus.
"I'm very glad it's there because it is something that is a matter of concern for people and especially people who are of college age, just starting to put together their ideas about their search in an individual way," Powell said. "They're now in a position where they can make their own decisions away from their parents, and they're no longer in a situation where they're being told by their parents or the church what they should believe," he continued, "so it's really important to have opportunities."
The Gay & Spiritual group plans to meet again next Tuesday in the same location. More information is available on Facebook under "Gay & Spiritual."