Anti-LGBT group provokes controversy on campus

John+McCartney+%28left%29+and+Wayne+Lela+%28right%29%2C++are+representatives+of+anti-LGBT+group+H.O.M.E.++They+said+the+group+has+been+visiting+Harper%27s+campus+for+over+10+years.+Photo+courtesy+of+Mark+D%27Adamo.+
Back to Article
Back to Article

Anti-LGBT group provokes controversy on campus

John McCartney (left) and Wayne Lela (right),  are representatives of anti-LGBT group H.O.M.E.  They said the group has been visiting Harper's campus for over 10 years. Photo courtesy of Mark D'Adamo.

John McCartney (left) and Wayne Lela (right), are representatives of anti-LGBT group H.O.M.E. They said the group has been visiting Harper's campus for over 10 years. Photo courtesy of Mark D'Adamo.

John McCartney (left) and Wayne Lela (right), are representatives of anti-LGBT group H.O.M.E. They said the group has been visiting Harper's campus for over 10 years. Photo courtesy of Mark D'Adamo.

John McCartney (left) and Wayne Lela (right), are representatives of anti-LGBT group H.O.M.E. They said the group has been visiting Harper's campus for over 10 years. Photo courtesy of Mark D'Adamo.

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






Heterosexuals Organized for a Moral Environment (H.O.M.E.), registered by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group, stood in Building A and passed out flyers to passers by on campus. Their aim was to educate people on “the uncensored truth about homosexuality.”

Wayne Lela and John McCartney are two spokesmen who visit community colleges to advocate against homosexuality. They have been coming to Harper’s campus for over 10 years.

According to Lela, the LGBT+ Agenda is irrational, it shouldn’t exist, and their view is that gay-straight groups are promoting acceptance of an immoral lifestyle.

“We’re here to give them a side that we know is being suppressed by the Liberal Media, by a lot of Liberal teachers, and we don’t think that’s right. We think… it’s intellectually responsible to look at both sides of an issue before you make up your mind, and a lot of people aren’t doing that,” Lela said.

Harper’s calendar and events page listed H.O.M.E.’s information table as “Free Speech Events” that took place Nov. 13 and 14.

Despite vocal opposition from students and faculty on campus, the administration claimed that the group is welcome to exercise their freedom of speech. Harper allows for outside groups to come and set up tables and give presentations on campus.

Harper honors the constitutional rights of all individuals and thrives on the free exchange of ideas,” explained Kim Pohl, Harper’s Interim Director of Communications. “As a public institution, our policies allow for groups to reserve tables in designated free speech zones.” 

 Harper student, Mark D’Adamo, who identifies as a heterosexual male,  explained that despite being against the group’s message, he was aware of the freedom of speech policies set in place that allowed this group onto campus.  D’Adamo said he spent some time debating the two representatives at the table. 

“They’re doing it in the most polite manner. If they were aggressive or rude, if they gave any reason for [administration] to kick them out they would,” D’Adamo observed.

PRIDE had several tables set up to provide students with information during the HALO event on November 13. Photo by Roxana Machuca

H.O.M.E. was giving students the chance to walk up to them and have a conversation about their sexuality. Their anti-LGBT+ agenda left many members of the community feeling disrespected, including Harper freshman Finnegan Angelos. 

“I believe in making up your own opinion. But the truth is you can have a debate, we have a right to exchange ideas and express our beliefs freely. What I have a problem with is that when those beliefs upset the safety of the people they’re affecting,” Angelos said. 

Other members of the LGBT+ community resonated similar feelings about H.O.M.E.’s presence on campus. 

“As much as I very much dislike it, it is a federal law that Harper has to have these free speech areas and that unfortunately does include H.O.M.E.,” added president of PRIDE club, Juliana Vercillo.

Previously H.O.M.E. sued Waubonsee Community College due to circumstances relating to these legal aspects, and won $132,000.

“Public schools pretty much know they have to allow us on campus,” Lela stated.

Pohl elaborated on such policies, stating that the college can set parameters they refer to as “time, place, and manner” limits, but they can not restrict the freedom of speech policies. 

Meanwhile, when Harper’s PRIDE club discovered that the H.O.M.E group was going to be on campus on the same day of their scheduled event, they saw it as an opportunity to challenge the group’s message with their own.  

 “This [outcome] was the most radiant thing that could have come about this situation,” Vercillo described, when explaining the plans behind the PRIDE event. “It’s just so cool.” 

Flier used By PRIDE club to market HALO event. Photo by Roxana Machuca

Hawks Aligned for Love and Openness (HALO) was held in the middle of campus in the D Building Rotunda, aimed to celebrate acceptance with music, guest speakers, and on-campus resources for the LGBT+ youth.

Attendees of the HALO event experienced speeches and performances from members of Harper’s PRIDE club on Nov. 13 and 14. Photo by Julian Piwowar

 Students, staff, faculty, and members of the administration attended HALO to show their support. While the event was deemed a great success by participants, the controversy is still an issue for students like Angelos, and other members of the LGBT+ community, who remained upset at the presence of H.O.M.E. on campus. 

“Why are they here? It’s the school’s job to keep you safe. When I was witnessing all of that, ‘I was like where is my safety?’ I’m paying thousands of dollars to come here everyday for an education with the assumption that I will be okay,” Angelos shared passionately. “And then to see a table of people slandering and defaming my own people, and the thought that the school allowed them to be here. Freedom of speech bullshit– they are here in my space, And they hate me. Why is that okay?”