Lavender Mass 2021
Lavender Mass is an annual celebration at Gonzaga University focused on affirming and supporting LGBTQ+ campus community members through faith. This year, it was celebrated in the afternoon of Thursday, October 7th. Lavender Mass (formerly known as Mass of Compassion) has been held each fall for over a decade, providing an opportunity for collaborations between the Lincoln LGBTQ+ Resource Center, Mission and Ministry, and various Jesuits on campus. In a particularly contentious time like the present, it is important to acknowledge differing perspectives with respect and to ensure that our work is grounded in our University's mission to recognize the dignity of all and develop our students spiritually.
This religious gathering provides a space for people who may have felt they had to choose between their LGBTQ+ identity or their faith, as well as a space to heal from trauma, an introduction to Catholic mass, or an invitation to community. While it is a Catholic service, people of all faiths and spiritualties are invited to celebrate the Catholic and Jesuit values of Gonzaga University, while still recognizing the struggle to truly love one another without conditions. The presider of Lavender Mass, Fr. Pat Conroy, said in his homily that too often Catholics attend mass and hear the words of Jesus, but fail to authentically live out those values, including caring for and connecting with those on the margins of society. Reminders like that are crucial for our spiritual and intellectual health. Every individual sometimes needs to stop, reflect, and be mindful of the actions we are living out, rather than the words we profess.
Lavender Mass is scheduled each year near or on National Coming Out Day, an annual LGBTQ+ awareness day observed on October 11, which supports lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people being empowered to live openly and authentically. Great progress has been made for the equity and inclusion of LGBTQ+ folks, but discrimination, violence, and ostracism targeting LGBTQ+ people still occurs. Religion is occasionally used to justify these harmful actions, causing lasting damage to many within the LGBTQ+ community. Over the years, students from many faith backgrounds have said Lavender Mass is significant to them because they see campus coming together to strengthen our beloved community. We must continue this work by creating an inclusive space and recognizing the work still to be done.