Catholic university in Wichita cancels LGBTQ exhibit amid complaints
Wichita ? A Catholic university in Wichita canceled an exhibit intended to highlight contributions to the arts by native Kansans after it heard “community concerns” that the exhibit would expose students to “evil.”
The exhibit, “Rainbow in Reverse: Queer Kansas History,” was scheduled to open next week at Newman University’s Steckline Gallery.
The artist, Genevieve Waller, a Wichita native now living in Denver, was scheduled to present the show to highlight LGBTQ Kansans who worked through various art forms, The Wichita Eagle reported .
During the weekend, an email with the subject line, “Newman University sponsors LGBTQ event — Your action is needed!” was sent to local religious circles. In the email, Jean Heimann – a Wichita Catholic writer and speaker – wrote: “First of all, why is it necessary to expose students to evil? Why do students need to be encouraged to learn more about a sickness in our society?”
She suggested instead that the university showcase people how have “overcome the temptations of this lifestyle” or have an exhibit of artwork showing the “treasures of the Church.”
Heimann’s email asked those concerned about the exhibition to contact Newman and diocesan officials.
On Tuesday, Newman Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Kimberly McDowall Long said in a statement that the university “understands that diverse perspectives, in an atmosphere in which the human dignity of each person is respected, are key to learning,” yet “we thought it was best to make this decision.” The statement also refers to “some confusion regarding the purpose and content of this particular exhibit.”
Waller said she hoped an alternate exhibit venue would be found in Wichita.
“I would like the exhibit to spark curiosity about LGBTQ history in Kansas and help pave the way for LGBTQ Kansans’ stories to become part of official state histories,” she said Tuesday in an emailed statement to the Eagle.