The Gateway/Gayway Times Debacle, Fully Explained

Editor’s note: This story was updated at 11:30 a.m. CST on Nov. 30 for clarification and may be updated as new information becomes available. 

The final week of a semester is usually chaotic, but fall 2020 has truly outdone itself. The last weekend of classes saw a flurry of SLU students interacting on Instagram as two SLU-centered accounts came into the limelight: the Gateway Times and the Gayway Times. 

The Gateway Times account, @gatewaytimesslu (later changed to @thegatewaytimes at the request of SGA), described itself as “the Conservative Catholic voice of SLU.” Gateway’s Instagram account and website were created and posted its first photo around 7 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 19. By 10 p.m. that night, the account started being discovered, with one user commenting, “Why u follow me I’m gay?” The Gateway Times ended up publishing three articles and interacted with SLU students in the comment sections of various posts. While Gateway had only a four-day tenure, ending late on Sunday, Nov. 22, with the deletion of the Instagram account and website removal, controversy and chaos struck SLU’s social media community. 

Gateway’s very first publication gave them a great deal of traction. This article, submitted by an anonymous contributor, was a response to UNews staff writer Penelope Gardner and her recent opinion article “Here’s a List of Things to Do Before Amy Coney Barrett Helps Make Them Illegal.” Gardner wrote in her opinion piece that readers should “be gay,” “have reproductive freedom,” and “remember what it’s like to have a competent president,” before the Supreme Court justice takes office.

Post on @thegatewaytimes Instagram account promoting their first opinion article entitled, “Here’s a List of Things Never to Do Because They’re Mortal Sins: A Response to Penelope Gardner.”

The Gateway Times responded to Gardner’s article with their take: “Here’s a List of Things to Never Do Because They’re Mortal Sins: A Response to Penelope Gardner.” The article briefly criticized Gardner’s article, listed “Have Abortions, Have a Vasectomy (especially as an 18 to 20-something year old young man” as the “things you should never do, because they are mortal sins,” then republished two comments on Gardner’s original article. 

First section of the Response to Penelope Gardner article, initially published anonymously on the Gateway Times website.
The second section of the response article, published on the Gateway Times website. This screenshot includes a comment that was originally posted on Gardner’s UNews opinion article.
The third section of the response article, published on the Gateway Times website. This screenshot includes a comment that was originally posted on Gardner’s UNews opinion article.

The article used terms like “immoral practice” and “sinful habit” to describe queer sexuality, soon causing stir within the SLU community, and prompting the creation of a few other Instagram accounts. First, there were accounts created with similar names to the Gateway Times, created to parody the original through their posts and comments.

Common critiques from the Instagram community included that the article—as well as the Gateway account and website—did not have an author’s name. In response to the criticism, Gateway posted an editor’s note expressing that the “article was contributed by a SLU community member” and that Gateway “does not refuse to publish and will not alter articles on the basis of viewpoint disagreement or inaccuracy.” Gateway also added a name to the article, Kathryn Marie, but the UNews found evidence that the actual name attached to the writer’s account was more likely Kaitlyn Marie.

A screenshot sent from the Gateway Times to UNews writer, Penelope Gardner, when she inquired who had written the response article. While the published version on the website read “Kathryn Marie,” the writer’s account on Gateway’s end read “Kaitlyn Marie.”

Ultimately, the most popular account created in response to the Gateway Times was “The Gayway Times,” which quickly amassed over 400 followers.

The Instagram account of @thegaywaytimes, a parody account of Gateway that amassed over 400 followers in the four days the Gateway account was active.

The creator of the Gayway Times, who remains anonymous, tells the UNews that “I was sent [the account for The Gateway Times] by a friend and was instantly repulsed. I had already come into contact with a lot of bigotry on campus, so I was not really surprised. I came up with the idea on Friday and started it because I thought it would be fun to goof on them.”

The Gateway Times deleted their account and website before they could give a comment to the UNews.

Other SLU students that learned about the Gateway Times had strong reactions to the homophobic ideas expressed in the publication. One student was Anna Milburn, a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences. 

“My initial thoughts of the gateway times was that it was a disgruntled kid at SLU who got angry at Black Lives Matter and the trans awareness that we foster at SLU, but I saw more and more Trump and conservative accounts following them and it felt like a direct attack on SLU students,” says Milburn.

Ben Young, a sophomore in Parks College, interacted with the Gateway Times via direct message on Instagram.

“I sent them a message saying I believed this was homophobic, and their response was that they ‘were not afraid of gay people.’ This lead me to direct message the page in which I explained how I believed their posts were homophobic.”

Young says he also “tried to facilitate a conversation” with the Gateway Times.

“Their response was the Wikipedia article about the Bible and homosexuality. At this point, I was quite annoyed that this was their ‘defense,’ and I saw a post on their story about how they ‘fact checked me.’ So, I responded with numerous articles from varying denominations talking about how scripture tells us to love and accept gay people.”

“I received no response,” says Young.

The University News reached out to a few of the Gateway Times’ followers in hopes of finding the person behind the page. One student who followed the account on Instagram and who wishes to remain anonymous told the UNews that “most likely it is a student who wanted to make their voice heard, for better or worse.”

The Gayway Times made it their mission to satirize articles and posts made by the Gateway Times. One such post included a photo of Queer Eye star Jonathan Van Ness superimposed over a photo of Moses from the first Gateway Times post about Gardner’s article. 

Satirical post on @thegaywaytimes Instagram account with Queer Eye star Jonathan van Ness superimposed on the image used for the response to Gardner’s article.

Another Gateway Times post questioning whether SLU should fire President Fred Pestello was satirized by the Gayway Times, which replaced the pictures of Fred Pestello with photos of Miranda Cosgrove. 

Satirical post on @thegaywaytimes Instagram account with actress Miranda Cosgrove superimposed on the image from Gateway for the poll on whether President Fred Pestello, Ph.D., should be fired.

Milburn says she “decided to become active in making sure they [Gateway Times] knew queer SLU students wouldn’t tolerate it. When the @gaywaytimes first came about I was so excited to see more people coming together as a community to stop bigotry.”

There are also a handful of SLU students who initially took the side of the Gateway Times over the Gayway Times before the Gateway comments became more aggressive and extreme, such as Nicholas Baker, a sophomore student in the Business School.

When interacting with the account, Baker says he was “criticizing The Gayway Times for their logo in which the cross is flipped upside down… I believe the intent of the logo’s design was disrespectful. They also recently uploaded a drag queen’s face pasted over Christ’s image, which absolutely crosses the line. While we should all be respectful of our individual differences, we should also respect the common values that drew us to this Jesuit school.” Baker acknowledged that the views expressed by Gateway don’t necessarily represent those of all conservative students at SLU.

“It was also awful to hear that students were basically saying that LGBTQ+ people should only come to SLU if they expect to follow/live by what the Catholic Church teaches. LGBTQ+ people and non-Catholic [students] belong at SLU,” says Joe Reyes, a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences.

A response from the Gateway Instagram account in response to students criticising their argument for non-Catholic students at a Catholic school. (Photo courtesy of SLU Rainbow Alliance)
The Gayway Instagram DMed the Gateway account asking them to use the correct pronouns for a SLU student that Gateway was replying to on a Gayway post. (Photo courtesy of SLU Rainbow Alliance)
A response from the Gateway Instagram account responding to questions from other Instagram users about the organization’s views on gay marriage and the LGBTQ+ community. (Photo Courtesy of SLU Rainbow Alliance)
A response from the Gateway Instagram account clarifying the organization’s position on gay marriage and the LGBTQ+ community. (Photo Courtesy of SLU Rainbow Alliance)
A response from the Gateway Instagram account in response to students criticizing non-Catholic students at a Catholic school that was posted on the Gayway Times Instagram account.

Before their account shut down, the Gateway Times sent a cease and desist letter to the Gayway Times, accusing the account of plagiarism. The Gateway Times alleged that Gayway was unlawfully using their logo and content and threatened court action by their lawyer. The final version of the cease and desist letter included a signature of the Gateway Editor-in-chief, whose name apparently began with a J.

The Final Cease and Desist Letter sent from Gateway that was posted on the Gayway Instagram story. This letter contained a signature with an apparent “J” as the first name in the signature.

“I doubt they have a lawyer, and don’t know what they will do going forward,” says Baker.

Before the Gateway account was deleted at 11 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 22, they posted a story with the test “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” regarding two photos with LGBTQ+ people.

Shortly before deleting the account and website, Gateway posted this image on their Instagram story around 10:50 p.m.

In considering why the Gateway Times deleted its account, an anonymous student who followed the Gateway Times says, “my best guess is that the creator(s) took it down because it created more backlash than they anticipated. Alternatively, SLU themselves could have made contact with the account asking them to take it down, since it is not a SLU-affiliated service.”

While many students who support the Gayway Times are pleased that the Gateway account was deleted, they still call for action against the people who originally made the homophobic posts, as well as to better support LGBTQIA+ students at SLU.

“There is obviously a substantial, vocal community at SLU that spews this hate-filled speech. I think it is important to call out this hate when we see it and hold those who create it accountable,” the Gayway Times tells the UNews.

In reference to the J signature on the cease and desist letter: Who was behind the Gateway Times SLU account? 

“SLU needs to do a better job of making those who feel marginalized, especially LBGT folks, at home here. Give more resources to queer students, hold the Catholic Studies Center accountable for their homophobic rhetoric and make sure that hatred cannot be fostered on campus,” the Gayway Times also said.

Reyes believes the SLU community should take an active stance in fighting homophobia: “I think that the Catholic Studies Center and its students also need to get out of its bubble and stop hiding in the shadows and actually engaging in dialogue with other students, and they need to be open to learning different perspectives and experiences. I keep hearing the old trope that their beliefs are being attacked and all of that, but they do nothing to actually defend their beliefs besides hiding behind anonymous accounts and all of that.”

“I believe the broader SLU community definitely needs to have a broader conversation on how LGBT people are treated on campus, just as we did with how those of color are treated on campus. Around campus I have been verbally abused and called slurs while walking to get food or coming home from work, and we as a community need to address these issues and work together to create a positive environment for all students,” says Young.  

Milburn agrees, and the sequence of events has made her hopeful.

“Going forward I hope all of this reminds the SLU community, especially the queer community here that were a very strong minded group of people and we don’t tolerate hatred and bigotry. I do think the whole SLU community should reflect on this and remember to spread love for our minority communities and uplift the voices of non white cis het folks who make this Jesuit institution so much stronger,” Milburn tells the UNews.

Even though the Gateway Times has deleted their original account and website, The Gayway Times has told the UNews that they plan on keeping their account active. While some activity has continued in this time, it’s unclear at this point whether or not the original Gateway account has been revived as new accounts like @gatewaytimes_2.0, since the account remained anonymous throughout its existence. 

The UNews is in the process of investigating this, and many SLU students want accountability in their community. If you have any information, please contact the UNews on our Instagram, Twitter or Facebook accounts.