Letter to the Editor

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Homophobia is not a joke and it is not acceptable

I have been a student for a while now – I recently attended my seventh Welcome Week this September. In that time, I have grown from a closeted, small-town teenager to an educated mid-twenties openly gay man that strives to be inclusive.

One of the most disappointing and frankly unwelcoming experiences during my entire campus life was a recent Thursday partaking in Pub Trivia at the Owl. I have been drinking pitchers and answering questions there for years. Usually, the most disappointing thing is a handful of mom jokes that elicit eye-rolls from my table. But this time was different.

Early in the evening, one of the trivia team’s taglines – an opportunity to have something funny read aloud after each round – used very homophobic language for a laugh. More specifically, the word ‘faggot.’ A few teams chuckled, which I tried to shrug off. When one of the hosts announced something like “these are the kind of words we are looking for,” I was sick. I felt isolated and scared in a place I have been welcomed into hundreds of times. Moreover, I was saddened to see my student colleagues seemingly okay with what was going on.

Not only were the hosts insensitive, they were perpetuating the hateful language. The word ‘fag(got)’ was used a half-dozen times more, plus lines like “so-and-so sucks dick.” They eventually caught on that some participants were offended, and stopped.  I guess that was the best they could do on National Coming Out Day. ‘National Go-back-in-the-closet Day’ was a much more accurate description for how I felt.

I love the Owl, and I won’t stop going. I know the management there does not condone such actions. I call on the Owl to handle this issue quickly and seriously, and I call upon the hosts – they know who they are – to publish a written apology and attend one of the many Positive Space Workshops provided by UR Pride. For the rest of us – don’t let jerks be jerks.

Nathaniel Cole
Contributor

7 comments

  1. Katie 18 October, 2012 at 14:20

    Way to be for writing this. It's not always easy to stand up against homophobia…especially the small things with big connotations.

  2. Mitchel 18 October, 2012 at 21:11

    There have been taglines to the effect of "I like my women like I like my coffee: ground up and in the freezer".  While I admit that the word faggot shouldn't be celebrated, why aren't those adressed? I have been going on a very regular basis for over a year and don't think that there is any true hate being brandied about.

  3. Amy 19 October, 2012 at 14:49

    Great job, Nathaniel! Sean and I left the Owl Trivia two or three Thursdays back because the hosts were making inappropriate jokes about women and gay people. 

  4. Krista 20 October, 2012 at 12:10

    Whether or not there is any "true hate" being bandied about, the use of the word "f*ggot" in such a casual way makes the word itself seem acceptable for use, when it really, really isn't, unless it's being used in a context that allows for it to be reclaimed by the people who have been denigrated by it. It was used as hate speech in this context – how is that okay? 
    And in any case, if a joke (any joke!) makes people feel unsafe and unwelcome, then it isn't a joke anymore. That's not being too sensitive or politically correct – that's just being a decent person! 

  5. CUP Newswire | Pride and Prejudice 7 September, 2013 at 11:38

    […] came under fire last fall when a trivia host saw fit to use homophobic slurs. A student wrote an op-ed piece in the student newspaper, The Carillon, and then received backlash for saying that the host’s use of the word “faggot” made him feel […]

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