Boston College is a Jesuit institution with a rich tradition of faith and education. As far as Catholics go, the Jesuits are fairly liberal when it comes to social issues. This forward-thinking mindset paired with religious teachings and beliefs leaves many with a question mark shaped hole when it comes to gay relationships and rights in the Boston College community, which exists under the motto “men and women for others.”
The student body, comprised of individuals who were all drawn in one way or another to Catholic college, is widely perceived as homophobic and stereotypically heteronormative. However, sophomore Taylor MacLeod’s experience has not reinforced this convention. MacLeod is a pre-med student and active in extracurricular activities. He studies hard, sings in an a cappella group, acts in plays on campus and he is an out, gay man.
“I chose Boston College because of its academic strength and proximity to the city,” says MacLeod. “Obviously I wanted to make sure that I was going to a welcoming school in terms of my sexuality, but I knew that anywhere that I went in the northeast there would be people who were accepting or disapproving of my lifestyle. However, I did read an article written in 2005 about BC being one of the top 5 most anti-gay schools in the USA.”
This article and others like it condemn BC and other similar universities—many of which are religious as well—as homophobic, and fairly enough. Just last year the LGBT office was vandalized with anti-gay slurs and statements.
“BC doesn’t let GLC call their spring event a dance…due to the implications of a dance with homosexual people,” says MacLeod. But, this is one of the only negative statements he has to offer. He has “never had a bad experience at BC per se,” and is a firm believer that the times, they are a-changin’.
“[People] are finally realizing that gay people aren’t just gay. I always say that I am so many things before gay: I am a son, brother, student, friend, and an Eagle…Just because I wear tight purple pants at night doesn’t mean I’m an alien.”
MacLeod’s legendary purple pants are just one indication of his vivacious character. Although he is an unbelievably hard worker, prioritizing schoolwork and spending upwards of 10 hours in the library on any given week, his friends will describe him as not only studious, but as a hilarious, sarcastic and fun-loving friend that they have grown close to since their freshman year.
That first year, MacLeod says he was: “amazed to find a group of close guy friends on my floor. After coming out to them, they accepted me without any pretenses. They had only known me for a week and just saw me as one of the boys. To this day, my mom, dad and I always talk about how grateful I am to have found such an amazing group of guys at BC who are all straight but couldn’t care less about my sexual orientation.”
MacLeod says his friends support him endlessly, coming to National Coming Out Week events for him, even after knowing each other for a few weeks. Others echo this encouragement, including MacLeod’s professors, staff and peers of all sorts. “People are changing because of the generations, even at a religious institution,” he says.
As a religious student and individual “who prays every night and [is] founded in spiritual life,” MacLeod feels at home with the religious facet of Boston College. He does not feel excluded from a life of faith, and confidently responds to those people who condemn homosexuality as sinful: “I’m telling you: God would never make me this way if it wasn’t meant to be. Again: times are changing. People need to get ready for it.”
Although great steps are being made, MacLeod knows that BC and the United States in general “has a ways to go.” At school, he believes there should be more LGBT related volunteer opportunities, such as suicide hotlines. Beyond Boston College, MacLeod is happy with the recent states allowing for gay marriage and hopes that many of the states will change within the next few years. For right now, however, he adds: “I think I am getting the same treatment anyone else gets.” As simple as this statement seems, it carries huge implications for the progression of Boston College and other universities in the direction of universal acceptance and love.
He has had an overwhelmingly positive experience at college and in general, surrounded by family and friends who love him just as he is, but MacLeod knows he is very fortunate and this is unfortunately not the case for everyone. For those having a hard time, he offers words of advice that can and should be taken to heart by everyone, LGBTQ or not:
“You shouldn’t have to hide who you are in fear of being rejected. Colleges nationwide are more accepting and have integrated more intensive programs for people who are struggling with their sexuality or just need someone with whom to talk. People are going to love you because of your personality and confidence and because you are you. They don’t want the edited version of you. They want all of you, because you are beautiful and you are worth it.