LGBTQ Work in Jesuit Higher Education Sivagami Subbaraman

“In Dreams Begins Responsibility” is a line from an old Irish Catholic play that captures the paradox and mystery of doing LGBTQ work in a Catholic and Jesuit context. The Jesuit poet, Gerard Manley Hopkins, captured through his intricate poetry and his extensive diaries, both the pain and anguish, but ultimately the freedom that emerges from staying true to our own “thisness.”A long process of discernment, dialogue, and reflection from students, faculty, staff, and ministry went into establishing the LGBTQ Center at Georgetown University in order to create spaces for conversations around the intersections of LGBTQ and faith. The discernment and dialogue have continued and served as the Center’s touchstone since it opened its doors on August 26, 2008. Central to its vision is the belief that LGBTQ identities and communities are best understood in the context of all other identities and communities. The Center draws upon Jesuit values and understandings as it seeks to model a unique way to build a Center that is truly integrative and integrated in its work. As the first institutionally supported LGBTQ Center at Georgetown, it must continue to address issues of “tolerance,” “inclusiveness,” and challenge the limits of our imagination and compassion. The Center should provide not only spaces for “coming out,” but also places for a “coming together” of all of who we are and can be as individuals and as communities. Sivagami (Shiva) Subbaraman is the first Director of the LGBTQ Resource Center at Georgetown University. Since fall 2008, she has worked to make the Center integral to the campus experience. Shiva serves on national boards of several organizations and has presented at dozens of conferences, including the National Association of Student Professional Administrators, Jesuit Association of Student Personnel Administrators, National Conference for Race and Ethnicity in American Higher Education, National Association for Multicultural Education, Creating Change, Modern Language Association, and the American Studies Association. Shiva works with other colleagues at various Jesuit colleges and universities to find ways to make campuses more inclusive. Prior to Georgetown, she worked at the University of Maryland, Macalester College, and Drake University. She has published on popular culture including an article on “Catalog-ing Ethnicity: Clothing as Cultural Citizenship” in the journal Interventions. She has written and spoken extensively on the issue of part-time and adjunct labor in the academic world, and organized on their behalf. Her article “(In)Different Spaces: Feminist Journeys from the Academy to a Mall” is included in Women’s Studies on Its Own edited by Robyn Weigman (Duke University Press, 2001).