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Loyola's gay community maintains mixed feelings on their acceptance

This is part one of The Maroon’s series on sexuality at Loyola

On October 27, 2011

  • Jessica Barber heads recruitment and guard coaching for the women's basketball team. Courtesy of the Athletic Dept.

Many people on Loyola's campus think that the university is a tolerant place in regards to people's sexuality, but there are some who think that there are still undertones of homophobia at the school.

In the past year, hate crimes have affected gay students across the country, bringing attention to the issue of acceptance on college campuses.

At Loyola, political science and Latin American studies junior Molly Wagner said she has experienced some homophobic comments, although it has not been anything overt.

"I'm not an outwardly gay person, but it's not something I flaunt or hide either," she said.

Former student Zachary Krengle said that he felt he wasn't taken seriously as a bisexual male by students.

"People started rumors that I wasn't actually gay, I was straight, and vice versa," he said.

General studies sophomore Adrian Claveria said he has been the recipient of strange looks on campus, but finds that the overall feeling at the university is one of tolerance.

"There will always be people with their own little discriminations, but that discrimination is mainly the fault of individuals, not the community," he said.

Though some members of the student body have less than positive experiences to relate, some still think that the gay lifestyle is accepted at the university.

"I mean, our nickname is ‘Gayola.' That goes beyond being gay. In my mind, that means being accepting of people of all kinds and that means a lot to me," said Mackenzie McMillan, political science junior.

McMillan chose to come to Loyola because of the community service opportunities available. After experiencing the accepting atmosphere at Loyola, he said that he finds it difficult to picture going to school anywhere else.

McMillan encourages students to be themselves and to take advantage of the fact that Loyola will be one of the most accepting places they will experience in their lives.

Though he is not associated with the Catholic religion, McMillan said, "Once I got to Loyola, I realized that the Jesuits embrace and love you for who you are."

Other students agree with McMillan's assessment of New Orleans.

"The environment here is obviously good. I mean, the South can be scary but it's not really ‘Deep South' in New Orleans. It's a pretty nice and accepting city," said Madelaine Crabtree, jazz studies sophomore.

Crabtree discovered that she was gay during her freshman year, and found her friends to be accepting of her and her then-girlfriend.

"All of my friends were like, ‘Oh, we knew you guys liked each other, thanks for telling us'… It's really just one small fraction of what your personality is, just like being straight is just one small fraction," Crabtree said.

Crabtree said she has not found much of a stigma against being gay at Loyola.

"The only bad stigmas I've experienced are things that they say in passing, like ‘Oh, that's so gay,' you know, like homo or whatever. People who are immature or don't know what they're talking about are still using gay to mean stupid," she said.

Loyola students aren't the only people who find the campus accepting of their lifestyle.

"I love working here. I've never felt the need to be something I'm not. I mean, I don't go walking around saying, ‘Hey, I'm Patrick, I'm gay,' but I don't try to put on a straight act. I'm just me. I'm Patrick, a person and a professor here," said theater arts professor Patrick Gendusa.

Gendusa was the victim of a violent hate crime in May 2006. About a year after the attack, he was offered the opportunity to work at Loyola and has been teaching for six years.

Gendusa says that he does not live in fear, because he is grateful to work at a place like Loyola.

"If you just be yourself and love yourself and treat others with respect, it's going to come back to you," Gendusa said.

Leslie Gamboni can be reached at

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