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Campus event featuring Catholic who left lesbianism draws ire of LGBT students

‘My prayer is that, before we make decisions and statements about each other, we get to know each other’

A student group at the University of Wisconsin Madison called Badger Catholic recently received backlash for hosting an event focused on the intersection of homosexuality and faith.

The April 13 event, “Homosexuality and Life With Christ,” featured Kim Zember, author of the 2020 memoir “Restless Heart: My Struggle with Life & Sexuality,” which explains her struggle with her faith and homosexuality.

“Zember, a California girl born and raised Catholic, found that no matter how much she pursued relationships with women, she was never at peace,” according to the Catholic News Agency.

She eventually delved into a spiritual journey that led her to leave homosexuality and found a ministry called “Overcome.”

But the event was condemned as “anti-LGBT” by the student group Sex Out Loud in a statement posted to its Instagram page.

“We are aware that an anti-LGBTQIA+ speaker event is happening on campus this week. This speaker and event are using pro-LGBTQIA+ language to invite queer communities to discuss potentially harmful topics on the basis of faith and religion,” it stated in part.

Previous Sex Out Loud events include “Feminist Sex Toy Revolution,” “Sexy Bingo” and “Boundless Bodies: Queer Embodiments and Pleasures Under Capitalism.”

Neither Sex Out Loud nor Badger Catholic responded to The College Fix’s requests for comment.

Zember’s speech was a part of Badger Catholic’s “Badger Talks” series.

To open her presentation, Zember told the audience that her talk was unscripted and that she didn’t ask for anyone’s acceptance, but rather their understanding.

“Everyone in this room, you have the right to hate me. You do. You have the right to hate each other. My prayer is that, before we make decisions and statements about each other, we get to know each other,” Zember said.

In comments to the campus paper The Daily Cardinal, Badger Catholic President Max Sherwin and Vice President Alexis Bakken said they appreciated that the audience drew a wide variety of students and engaged the topic during the Q&A with different “perspectives.”

“When we got to [the] Q&A, I thought it was great. People who don’t typically come to our events were asking questions,” Sherwin told the Cardinal. “It’s a university, and it doesn’t do us any good if we sit in an echo chamber and just bounce the same ideas that we hold off of one another.”

“It was super cool to get other people’s perspectives from the audience.”

Bakken told the paper that the group felt “really blessed that there were no protesters or any violence, because you never really know with events like this that get a bigger response. Most of the time, people do not even know our events are happening.”

MORE: Christian colleges show up on LGBT ‘Shame List’ for featuring ex-lesbians

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About the Author
Jackson Walker -- University of Wisconsin Madison