This story first appeared in the Oct. 26, 2017 issue of The Vantage
By Courtney Klaus
The advisory committee for Kaleidoscope, Newman’s new LGBT+ organization, did not allow the group’s members to release a video they produced for National Coming Out Day until it was edited to remove a scene with rainbow-colored streamers, which the committee said conflicted with Catholic values.
The video was originally created in partnership with Newman 360Five as a way for Kaleidoscope to participate in National Coming Out Day, which was Oct. 11, and to promote a tailgate the club held Oct. 12.
The video was partially reshot and published on Monday, Oct. 23.
Kaleidoscope members said the rainbow streamers were a harmless symbol of unity, but advisory committee members said the colors were too political and could cause backlash.
Junior Kevin Clack, the president of Kaleidoscope, said Father John Fogliasso told him to cut the scene with the streamers because they represented the colors of the gay pride flag, which could be interpreted as support for gay marriage.
“He didn’t think it was a good idea for us to use the rainbow streamers in the background, because the rainbow streamers symbolized the rainbow flag, and the rainbow flag symbolizes gay marriage,” Clack said. “And since gay marriage doesn’t correspond with Catholic teachings, the streamers had to be cut out of the video.”
Father John Fogliasso, a member of the Kaleidoscope advising committee, said via email that “the Pastoral Plan lays clear the expectation that any and all programs and initiatives be consistent with the University’s mission and Catholic values.”
According to Newman’s Pastoral Plan created for the group, Kaleidoscope programs must be approved by a committee “so as to avoid any political or social activities that might compromise Newman University’s Catholic identity and mission.”
Clack said he disagreed with the notion that the flag symbolizes gay marriage because, to him, the flag represents “freedom of expression” and “the fight against oppression.”
Dean of Students and adviser for Kaleidoscope Levi Esses said that telling the students to reshoot the video was a “challenging conversation because the video was well done.”
Kaleidoscope member and nursing student Kristina Enslinger said she was disappointed that the video was edited because she felt the ending was an important part of the video.
“It was kind of disheartening because we were all really excited about it,” she said, “The end, with the rainbow and everything, was bringing us all together back to this one thing that we all have in common, and I was kind of sad we didn’t get to put that out there. That was the point of the club. It’s that community.”
Esses said he was unable to attend the last Kaleidoscope meeting, where the video was planned, because he was out of town.
“We’ve got to be careful in terms of symbolism that we use because like anything else, there’s numerous stakeholders involved in a university,” Esses said. “We have to try to protect all of that. Ultimately, at the end of the day, the students are the most important stakeholder. But it’s a tough balance with that.”
Initially the group tried to mitigate the issue by editing the streamer scene to black-and-white. But administrators told them the scene should be replaced with different footage, Clack said.
Esses said the black-and-white edit “didn’t flow the way it should and the scene lost its purpose.”
Clack said he is concerned about the future of Kaleidoscope given the advisory committee’s decision.
“I appreciate that Newman University has given us this organization,” he said, “But with stuff like this, I’m starting to believe that this is less of an organization and more of a daycare for the people in our community.”
Clack also said he wondered if Kaleidoscope would be able to work with other LGBT+ organizations in the future who might use the pride flag.
Esses said these are decisions that have yet to be discussed by the advisory committee.
“Those are conversations that the advisory committee needs to have in terms of the colors,” Esses said “Because there’s colors in our Kaleidoscope logo, and so we need to talk about that in terms of what that means as an organization, or what they can and cannot do.”
Esses said he hopes to start these conversations after the next Kaleidoscope meeting, which is at 6:30 p.m. tonight in the Dugan-Gorges Conference Center.