A Franciscan University of Steubenville alumna reminded university students Monday to support those struggling with same-sex attractions by growing with them in friendship.
Anna Carter, a Franciscan graduate and co-founder of the LGBTQ support movement Eden Invitation, gave students, faculty and staff a step–by–step guide on how to help those who both experience same-sex attractions and wish to follow Christ’s teachings.
Raised by Catholic parents, Carter said she was strong in her faith, attending her first Steubenville Conference at the age of 14.
Carter recalled that it was in her mid-teens that she began to experience her first feelings of same-sex attraction.
“In other words, … I wanted to kiss my best friend,” she said.
Carter told the audience that she initially repressed her feelings and refused to accept their existence. It was not until her freshman year at Franciscan that she shared them with her household sisters and took control of her life.
Carter said that it is important to be respectful when approaching friends struggling with same-sex attractions. She emphasized the necessity of listening actively, treating people as people and not as “projects” and avoiding harsh or judgmental language.
She encouraged her audience to tell their friends experiencing same-sex attractions that they are loved, ask them questions about their feelings, offer help and check in on them often.
Carter said not to look toward those struggling with same-sex attractions with suspicion or nervousness. Same-sex attraction in and of itself is not a sin — only acting upon it is, she said.
Carter finished by explaining the importance of Christian community. She reminded her audience that it is not only those struggling with same-sex attractions who stand to benefit from good community. Such individuals can also support others with their friendship, their encouragement and their own strengths.
Citing her personal experience as motivation for encouraging an authentic support of those experiencing same-sex attraction, Carter said, “I had a number of years of pretty scrappy community trying to figure out how to do this together, so I wanted to share this with you today.”
Junior Marie Potter said the subject was a very important one on campus, and she stressed the crucial need for support.
“It’s really important not only to talk about supporting lesbian, gay and bi Catholics but to do so correctly,” Potter said. “I’ve seen a lot that were talked about either with hostility or with a ‘charity case’ type of voice.”
“Living the life of knowing there’s a whole aspect of your thought (and) your attraction, that, if acted on, is a grave sin,” she said, “that really gets to you.”
Monday morning’s talk in the Gentile Gallery was one of a series of three given by Carter this week on the topic of supporting individuals identifying as LGBTQ.