Windy City Media Group Frontpage News

THE VOICE OF CHICAGO'S GAY, LESBIAN, BI, TRANS AND QUEER COMMUNITY SINCE 1985

home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2021-09-01
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
Donate

Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

A gay group's homecoming in Wheaton
by Carrie Maxwell, Windy City Times
2011-11-02

This article shared 6882 times since Wed Nov 2, 2011
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


During the unseasonably warm weekend of Oct. 7-8, alumni and their families returned to Wheaton College to celebrate homecoming weekend. This homecoming was different, however, because it was the first time that out and proud LGBTQ alumni and their allies returned to the campus in the school's 150-year history.

OneWheaton—the new group formed in April 2011 (its origins date back to Dec. 2010/Jan. 2011) to support LGBTQ alumni who feel/felt isolated while attending Wheaton College—participated in many homecoming activities, held a panel discussion and hosted a free concert featuring out lesbian gospel singer Jennifer Knapp.

Organization chair Jose Vilanova said, "LGBTQ alumni wanted to have healing and affirmation and our group was a response to that and this evolved over time as people became members of our private Facebook group."

The group's mission is, according to its website, "to provide an open, inclusive, and safe community for LGBTQ and allied alumni and students of Wheaton College. We support students and alumni with compassion, counsel, and resources so that they can live full, vibrant lives. We affirm LGBTQ individuals and their relationships that are the natural expression of their identity."

OneWheaton began when Vilanova received a phone call from Mitch Rodriguez, a young gay alumnus, urging him to get a bunch of gay alumni together to create "It Gets Better" videos for Wheaton students. Vilanova went on Facebook and started a private alumni group for LGBTQ former students to join and commit to take part in the videos.

Then Wesley Hill, another gay alumnus, spoke on campus, contending that gay Christians should remain celibate. Many alumni reacted to Hill's message, resulting in the videos being put on hold. Instead, they decided to go onto campus and distribute letters that shared LGBTQ alumni's individual and collective lives to Wheaton students as they left chapel. It was during the planning of the letter drop that the name OneWheaton was created, and the group continued to develop.

Currently, there are about 600 signatories to the letter on the organization's website. Approximately 365 people are on the private Facebook group and more than 1,000 people have liked the fan page on Facebook.

As for homecoming weekend, Vilanova said, "It was absolutely amazing and exceeded everyone's expectations. We all thought everyone would have a good time and were excited to meet each other in person. Every facet of the weekend turned out to be wonderful."

Co-chair Ruth Wardschenk said that this was one of the best weekends of her life, meeting and encouraging students while also witnessing fellow alumni heal emotionally. No longer afraid, Wardschenk said she cried as she walked around campus with her wife and daughter while wearing their OneWheaton attire.

Board member Hank Chen said, "I never thought I'd return to Wheaton College but I came this year not with a boyfriend but with my straight roommate, who was a proud ally and participated in everything OneWheaton did—not caring if people thought he was gay."

Concertgoers remarked that Knapp was spectacular. Following the concert, a Q&A discussion moderated by Kristin Winn, spokesperson for OneWheaton, was held. There, Knapp and LGBT alumni (Jessica Friesen, Adam Hibma, and Wardschenk) served as panelists. Vilanova shared that the panel discussion, attended by about 200 people, was just amazing. He added that they are still hearing stories of how people's perspectives of LGBTQ people changed (and continue to do so) because of the discussion.

To maintain anonymity, attendees used an iPad application or text-messaged questions ranging from what was it like to kiss someone of the same sex for the first time to a number of theology- and Bible-related inquiries. The one question that stood out for Vilanova was, "What is your view on the authority of the Bible?" Wardschenk answered, "If you identify as GLBT and Christian, you do not have to choose. You can have a partner or a spouse, a family, a church community and most importantly, you can have a complete relationship with Christ."

For the most part Vilanova, Wardschenk and Chen said that OneWheaton members and their families and friends didn't experience any issues, aside from some nervousness and iciness from some other alumni and current students. Conversely, they also got cheers and shout-outs from current students and respectful and inquisitive questions from people that led to constructive conversations with students, administrators and faculty.

The campus, according to Vilanova, had many preparatory meetings regarding OneWheaton and homecoming with the resident assistants. "The president of the college sent out an e-mail to the students reminding them that our members were alumni as well and they should welcome us on campus even though OneWheaton is not an officially recognized member of the college's alumni association," said Vilanova.

As for the future of the group, Vilanova says it's growing every day and "the Wheaton College alumni association and administration are really missing out because OneWheaton alumni have in a very short time created this amazing, miraculous organization. We're pretty damn fierce and they are missing out by not giving us full equality in the alumni affairs of the college."

Vilanova hopes that, at the very least, the college will acknowledge, encourage and support its LGBTQ students and not condemn them because it is written into the history of the college that two gay students committed suicide rather than living their lives as gay people. "Gay students who attend the college cannot keep feeling scourged by the campus. As recently as 2011, the chapel series on sexuality and wholeness depicted gay people as a tragic example of humanity. Imagine going to college for four years and having that message reinforced all the time," said Vilanova.

To find out more visit www.onewheaton.com .


This article shared 6882 times since Wed Nov 2, 2011
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email





Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

Naper Pride hosts inaugural Pride fest
2021-09-16
Naper Pride held its inaugural pride fest event, "Coming Together, One Community—One Naperville," on Sept. 11-12 in Naperville. Incidentally, "Coming Together, One Community—One Naperville" was also Naper Pride's organizational philosoph ...


Gay News

OneWheaton to mark 10th Homecoming Weekend on Oct. 8-9
2021-09-15
OneWheaton—a group of LGBTQA alumni and students of Wheaton College—will mark its 10th annual Homecoming Weekend with virtual activities on Oct. 8-9. On Oct. 8, at 6 p.m., there will be an LGBTQIA Storytelling Hour. Attendees ...


Gay News

Howard Brown hosting Midwest LGBTQ Health Symposium on Sept. 29-30
2021-09-15
Howard Brown Health will host its 2021 Midwest LGBTQ Health Symposium in a virtual format Sept. 29-30. The conference, presented by the Howard Brown Health Center for Education, Research and ...


Gay News

'Homophile' organization New Gay Liberation Front launches
2021-09-13
The New Gay Liberation Front—which described itself in a press release as a "homophile organization"—has launched. "Homophile" is a term that was used by some gay and lesbian groups in the 1950s. According to the University ...


Gay News

NATIONAL Teachers, GLAAD talks HRC, 9/11 items, Dr. Rachel Levine
2021-09-12
In North Carolina, a former teacher won a lawsuit against Charlotte Catholic High School and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Charlotte after he lost his job following an announcement on Facebook that he planned to marry ...


Gay News

Chicago neighborhood nonprofits join forces to provide free attorneys
2021-09-07
Four Chicago neighborhood nonprofits—LCLC (Lawndale Christian Legal Center), Breakthrough, BUILD (Broader Urban Involvement & Leadership Development) and New Life Centers—have formed a partnership to assign free ...


Gay News

One in ten LGBT workers experienced discrimination at work in the last year
2021-09-07
LGBT employees of color were more likely to report being denied jobs and verbal harassment A new study by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law finds an estimated 46% of LGBT workers have experienced ...


Gay News

HRC fires its president, Alphonso David
2021-09-07
On Sept. 6, the national LGBTQ+ organization the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) fired its president, Alphonso David, for advising now-former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) during his sexual-harassment scandal ...


Gay News

HRC president refuses to resign, despite co-chairs' reported request
2021-09-06
Alphonso David, the president of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), has refused to resign in the midst of controversy—even after the organization's co-chairs reportedly requested that he do so. According to NBC New York, David is ...


Gay News

Naper Pride set to host inaugural Pride fest
2021-09-04
Naper Pride will hold its inaugural pride fest event, "Coming Together, One Community—One Naperville," on Sept. 11-12. Incidentally, "Coming Together, One Community—One Naperville" is also Naper Pride's organizational philosophy of ...


Gay News

Illinois Holocaust Museum to show LGBTQ+ exhibit starting Oct. 17
2021-09-03
Starting Oct. 17, Skokie's Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center will host the exhibit "Rise Up: Stonewall and the LGBTQ Rights Movement," which explores the June 1969 police raid of the Stonewall Inn as the flashpoint ...


Gay News

Chicago Pride Parade cancelled
2021-09-01
--From a press release - The following statement was sent from Pride Chicago on the cancellation of this year's Chicago Pride Parade: We did not want to be sending this letter. Earlier this year, we decided that the parade might have ...


Gay News

Mayor Harold Washington centennial event looks at his LGBTQ+ legacy
2021-08-31
--From a press release - CHICAGO—The LGBTQ legacy of late Chicago Mayor Harold Washington (1922-1987) will be discussed as part of a series of events marking his 100th birthday in 2022. This free LGBTQ event will be Wed., Oct. 13, 6-8 ...


Gay News

GLAAD releases '2021 State of HIV Stigma' study
2021-08-29
GLAAD recently released its second annual State of HIV Stigma Study, a national survey among U.S. adults with the sample supplied by research firm Cint. The survey, funded by Gilead COMPASS Initiative, measures U.S. attitudes toward ...


Gay News

Andersonville Chamber of Commerce to present Andersonville Homecoming
2021-08-26
--From a press release - CHICAGO (August 26, 2021) — The Andersonville Chamber of Commerce (ACC) is pleased to announce Andersonville Homecoming, a three-night, two-day outdoor festival featuring live entertainment, local artisans and merchants, food ...


 



Copyright © 2021 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 

 

 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS






Donate


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.