Villanova Disinvites Queer Performance Artist Tim Miller, “Not In Keeping With Our Catholic Values”

Back in the early days of the culture wars, around 1990, a terrible man named Jessie Helms started stirring up shit by saying the National Endowment for the Arts was little more than a bankroll for homosexuals, communists and people who rip the tags off of mattresses.

He pointed to four contemporary artists in particular, who had received some amount of grant money from the NEA, as examples of the organization’s complete moral decay:  Karen Finley, John Fleck, and Holly Hughes and Tim Miller (left). And after the right-wingers starting belly-aching, the grants for all four were withdrawn. (To this day, the NEA no longer funds individual artists)

Fast forward past court cases—in which the NEA Four get their grant money back—and years of change, evolution and art. And Tim Miller is still getting the middle finger from The Man.

Just this week, Villanova University canceled a five-day workshop on personal narrative by Miller, an award-winning performance artist who covers issues regarding gender, AIDS, the body and gay-male  relationships. Oh, and he often takes his clothes off.

The workshop was scheduled for April but Miller was just notified on Sunday that it had been nixed.

Miller wasn’t told why the class was cancelled but, he told the Associated Press, “the thing that they worry about, I think, is that I am a gay person… with political opinions.”

A statement from Villanova, a Catholic university of about 10,000 students, said the school was worried Miller’s methods weren’t in keeping “with our Catholic and Augustinian values and mission.”But it’s definitely not because he’s gay: “Villanova University is an open and inclusive community,” it read, “and in no way does this singular decision change that.”

So, in conclusion, it’s not because Miller is gay, even though the Catholic Church condemns homosexuality. Nope, nothing to do with it. Something else entirely.

Photos via Feast of Fools, Dona Ann McAdams

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  • Chad

    The guy takes his clothes off!!!!! That’s a problem for any school in my book, be it Christian or otherwise. He’s just using the gay card as a default. News flash U can be gay but u don’t have to showcase ur half naked self in the process!!!!!

  • kawneekwa

    Catholic values???? Like Rick Santorum making sure Jerry Sandusky received the
    Congresional Medal of Honor? Or all those babies given away from their parents by Catholic hospitals? Those values? Or priests having sex with altar boys? Is it those Catholic values? Or covering up all their misdeeds? Or the Spanish inquisition when Catholics tried to rid Spain of all Jews? How about those Catholic values? Are we supposed to take them seriously when they speak values?

  • Cam

    @Chad: said…

    “The guy takes his clothes off!!!!! That’s a problem for any school in my book, be it Christian or otherwise. He’s just using the gay card as a default. News flash U can be gay but u don’t have to showcase ur half naked self in the process!!!!!”

    Nice try Troll, but…

    1. All of his art and methods would have been examined before offering him the place.

    2. College art classes have been using nude models for decades.

    Pure bigotry, end of story.

  • NovaNardis

    Also, he would be doing a workshop at Villanova, not a show. He did a similar workshop at DePaul — the largest Catholic university in the US — and got great reviews from students and administrators.

    I’m a Villanovan, Class of ’08. I put in a call to alumni affairs this morning to complain, and I know some of my friends have as well. This decision is baffling, because I can’t think of any other reason than his being gay. Villanova has had controversial guests to campus before. And Father Peter, the university president, used to be head of the theater program. So… it just makes no sense to me.

    And as a personal note, I didn’t have the courage to come out of the closet until I graduated, and it’s shit like this that reminds me why I felt I was an unwelcome part of the Villanova community. It’s not that they do anything to try to discriminate against their LGBT students, but rather just implicitly prefer they didn’t exist.

  • GAYJOCK 76

    @Chad: Chad needs a dick up his ass stat!!! a dick, a clamp, an arm, a foot, a piece of gum at the end up a rod… something, hell anything to help dislodge the stick he’s got stuck up there.

  • NovaNardis

    What’s most infuriating about Villanova’s statement is it’s shear level of schizophrenia.

    You cannot be “open and inclusive” and simulatenously ban people who don’t adhere to “Catholic and Augustinian values”. What’s next? No Muslim students? Not Jewish professors?

  • Al

    Just read someone comment on another site:

    “Villanova is having Will Sheridan, a gay athlete and artist go to the campus this Thursday to speak.”

    Miller simulates sex on stage, and features nudity – from what I’ve read.

    What if this is all a coincidence? Maybe the backlash from anti-gay groups forced the university to actually look into Miller’s art, and that’s what made them cancel it?

    If Will Sheridan is indeed coming, then… But maybe Sheridan doesn’t talk about gay issues and rights the way Miller does, and that was “the problem”? He has a history going back to the early 90s.

    We may not know for sure until someone comes forward behind the scenes and says what was really going down behind-the-scenes. Maybe some special interest group said that they weren’t going to grant the university money until Miller was banned from performing.

    While I think we should take on ANYPLACE that discriminate us, I happily give the finger to all Catholic organizations, and would have turned down their invitation from the start. Miller may have seen it as an opportunity to slip into an organisation that hates us, and make a statement. I can’t blame him. But hey, good PR for him.

  • Mk_ultra_again

    If that’s the image that Villian nova wants to project, so be it. They better not complain when public opinion topples them though, be it tomorrow or 5 years from now. A gay never forgets.

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