A Kansas Catholic university canceled an exhibit on the state’s “Queer History” in the wake of community complaints that it would “expose students to evil.”
Newman University announced Tuesday that officials had canceled the upcoming exhibit, “Rainbow in Reverse: Queer Kansas History,” which had been scheduled for the university’s monthly Final Friday exhibition, over community concerns, according to The Wichita Eagle. Newman Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Kimberly McDowall Long announced the cancellation in the wake of an email that circulated among local religious leaders, urging them to speak out against the exhibit for its celebration of LGBTQ lifestyles, according to the Associated Press.
“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?” the email, written by local Catholic speaker and writer Jean Heimann, read.
The email, sporting the subject line “Newman University sponsors LGBTQ event — Your action is needed!” called on local citizens and religious leaders to call the university and diocesan leaders to express their outrage and urge them to feature exhibits that focused on the beauty of the church. Heimann suggested instead that the university could feature works by an individual who had overcome same-sex temptations and been active in a ministry like Courage, helping others who struggle with same-sex attraction to find redemption.
Genevieve Waller, the artist who was to present the exhibition, said the work was meant to expose students and others to the contributions of LGBTQ individuals from Kansas, such as Gilbert Baker, the artist who appropriated the symbol of the rainbow as the logo of the LGBTQ community.
“I think he and other LGBTQ Kansans should be better-known and celebrated in their home state,” Waller said, according to The Wichita Eagle.
The exhibition is still on, despite the university’s cancellation, as Harvester Arts announced Wednesday that it would host Waller’s work.
The university has not scheduled an alternative exhibit and will therefore not have a Final Friday exhibition for January.
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