Connecting Faith and the LGBTQ Experience

In the summer of 2011, I prepared to leave California for Georgetown. My bags packed, my goodbyes said, I departed and embarked on a journey that has since ended but turned out to be much different than I ever imagined.

Along with suitcases of clothes, pictures and mementos of my eighteen years of life, I packed a sense of self that I had fought hard to pull together from seemingly incongruent parts. Gay. Latino. Catholic. Only one of those seemed—I thought—to be an identity that would be easy to express at Georgetown, and certainly the only one that could be actively explored. I arrived believing that I needed nothing from the organized LGBTQ community because my coming out process, initiated five years earlier, had given me a tough skin and a smart answer for everything.

Classes, my faith, the diversity of my friends and professors and exploring my Latino heritage have provided me with opportunities to reflect and grow. But the experiences that transformed me the most and forced me to reevaluate who I was were those that I had when I engaged with the community I thought I didn’t need. That confident, out freshman that arrived on the Hilltop in the summer of 2011 has radically evolved. Along the way, I met extraordinary people who brought so much into my life and inspired me to participate in LGBTQ life on campus and beyond the gates as much for the wellbeing of others as for that of myself. They were, I believe, gifts from God.

The culmination of this long and sometimes tough journey was undoubtedly the IgnatianQ conference that I helped organize as a board member of GU Pride last spring. My busy senior year schedule pulled me in many directions, all worthwhile and all meaningful. But at the very core of my being is my faith in a God who loves me beyond what I can ever imagine. As a gay person of faith, the work that I participated in for that conference was work that reflected the growth of my four years at Georgetown. I could imagine no better way of expressing my gratitude to my God for His generosity in placing so many good people on my path than to help produce an event that brought so much hope to many of our visitors from other Jesuit campuses. I know that some Jesuit campuses aren’t yet blessed with the security and guarantees to be the very people that God made them to be that we have on the Hilltop.

As I look back on that time now, four months later and about to embark on a very different journey with a new job and new ways in which to serve the world, I cannot emphasize enough how essential and lasting that experience was. After a summer of reflection, it has become very apparent that my role in IgnatianQ represents some of the best of what I have thus far given to the world, having been enriched by the people and the place that I encountered when I arrived four years ago. At that time, I unknowingly walked toward a precipice from which I dove and became stronger, more self-assured and more secure in the love that God has for me as His homosexual son. It was a way, however miniscule before the greatness of God, in which I could say thanks.

Written by Esteban Garcia, F’15