Gay West Virginia University Professor Describes ‘Public Shaming’ by Homophobic Student at Football Game

Daniel Brewster, a professor of Sociology at West Virginia University, says he was the target of a drunk student who hurled homophobic slurs at him at a football game two weeksago, and only one person came to his defense:

Wv Last Saturday as we celebrated the most electric atmosphere of my life within Mountaineer Field, I was forced to face one of my students who found the "liquid courage" to challenge my sexuality.

I watched as the young man approached from afar, and as he got closer, I could tell that I was his target. He arrived at my row and approached me with words of condemnation of my own sexual orientation, using several defamatory terms in an open social setting to attack a member of the faculty.

I was not only shocked that he would be so audacious, but I was publicly humiliated as hundreds of people interrupted their cheers to witness this "public shaming." Unfortunately, I was not surprised that only one of the onlookers would come to my defense.

Brewster says he has endured anti-gaybullying his whole life, including at WVU, but he's finished with it:

I have been a member of the faculty for 8 years. I have had students openly call me these terms of hate on more than one occasion. I once had a student write an evaluation stating that "the class would be better if the professor were not a …," I have had students openly yell slurs at me from a distance, in passing, even once in class.

However, this occasion is different. I have seen the bullying that has taken the lives of Tyler, Jamey, as well as others like Seth Walsh, Asher Brown, and Billy Lucas. This bullying is rampant; the stories that we hear about illustrate an epidemic. As a society, we must stop this intolerance. We must work to end bullying.

After the game, I went home and all I could think about was this student's taunting. I am not a teenager; I am not a student on this campus. I am a member of the faculty, and yet even I was not even off-limits to the bullying, hate speech and intimidation tactics. I have little doubt that this student is not the "exception," though I am also not convinced that he is "the rule." I often discuss in all of my courses of the effects of discrimination, prejudice and hate crimes.

Enough is Enough [the daily athenaeum]

Our tipster adds: "One of our professors just wrote an op ed piece about his gay bashing experience two weeks ago at the WVU football game. I heard the word faggot used 27 times (I counted to ignore it in my own way, I guess) and some students had tied an LSU stuffed tiger to a rope and were swinging it around. One of them yelled "WATCH OUT THE TIGER HAS AIDS DONT TOUCH IT". I'm a member of the WVU Queer Student Union and our pride week is coming up very soon. We are trying to get the word out about the homophobia on our campus, since West Virginia is 15 years + behind the times, in social regards."

Comments

  1. Gay American says

    Doesn’t matter IF he was drubk or not…avoid VA liek the HATE and BIGoT state it is…..my sister lives there in Fredericksburg – and I refuse to visit her there…they aren’t getting a god-dammed penny of my tax dollars.

  2. Travis says

    I am disgusted by this. I am from West Virginia and live in Columbus, OH now. West Virginia has always been known as a fairly tolerant state…I had very few problems living and coming out there. My campus life at Marshall University was empowering and accepting back in the mid-90’s.
    I am not sure if the student that verbally attacked the professor is from West Virginia but I guarantee a lot of the fans around him are. Shame!
    Rise up West Virginia!!

  3. pc says

    Okay, so he’s not going to be bullied anymore – but what is he doing about it other than writing an op-ed? Since this took place at a university event he should use that against the kid and get him thrown out of school. Or he should’ve kicked his ass.

  4. Chitown kev says

    I think the story may have been here at towleroad but weren’t they doing PSA’s at West Virginia’s football stadium about racism by fans as well?

  5. Dan says

    To the last comment… This story is about WEST Virginia not Virginia. they are two completely different states. If you refuse to visit your sister then that is your loss, not Virginia’s

  6. Dickster says

    This incident occurred two weeks ago – what is the response of the WV University administration? Surely the faculty association has opined about a student publicly disrespecting a prof?

  7. April in Austin says

    So the fu*k what it someone calls you a “fag”? Why do we care? I mean really. I grew up and came out in a small town in Texas at the height of the AIDS crisis. It was anything but cool to be queer. Epithets, threats, you name it, I experienced it. Oh and that’s along with the racial slurs. Guess what helps – fighting back. Maybe it’s because I never was afraid of being gay. It never bothered me; I knew I was different by age 4. Lucky I guess. We’re crippling gay youth. This coddling of them, stroking them and saying “there, there that was a big mean bully who called you [insert slur here]. Stop with the songs and cries for acceptance from others and the stopping of hatred. They will always hate us. Love yourself, buck up and just don’t let them win. Stand up and fight back. Don’t bloody hang yourself. There is nothing a bible thumping bigot hates more than an healthy, happy homo. Be one.

  8. Jeff says

    No one is going to offer us respect, dignity, rights or acceptance. We have to go out there one by one and take what is ours. Each one of us. We need to vote it into effect, we need to voice it into effect, we need to preach it into effect. We need to silence the voice of oppression by raising our voices against it. Don’t wait for me to do it, don’t wait for the next guy to do it. We need to do it together.

  9. says

    Incredible ! The most successful country in the world, the most developed country in the world,and it just takes a drunken ass to besmirch the reputation so proudly earned.
    This drunk ranks with the other evangelical haters who have emboldened the extreme fascist right into the light of day.
    Bachman, Palin,and all the other fringe lunatics now think they are free to attack us in any forum…….even manipulating laws to deprive us of our rights.

    WE need to reelect Pres. Obama…..so that the Supreme Court does not get another of these creeps on the bench.

  10. anonwvualum says

    As a native West Virginian, I went to WVU for the first year of my undergrad (before transferring) thirty years ago, and the atmosphere was better then. WV is, indeed, historically a very accepting place, particularly as mostly-rural, mostly-poor states go. High Street (the main street in town) had a very high number of gay business owners and even gay and gay-friendly bars then — right downtown, right off-campus — and everybody knew it and nobody cared.

    However, the people who own this country have done an excellent job of dumbing down the population and turning Americans against each other.

    Things are not only not getting better, they are going to get a lot worse first. Americans are slaves to a handful of billionaires and we’ve had more than two generations made intentionally increasingly stupid so as to keep us docile and distracted. As they continue to destroy this country, no matter what strides we make in human rights, we’re going to see a lot more of this.

    Good for the professor for speaking out. Your tipster has it exactly right regarding how far behind the times socially WV has always been. The difference is now the culture isn’t simply retro, it’s been deliberately poisoned.

  11. Spartacus says

    Not to attack the victim, but an OpEd piece hardly seems like much of a forceful response. Does being called a fag REALLY humiliate you? You’re a professor. The punk is a student. Ever think of calling stadium security? Got an iPhone? Know how to snap a pic? Know how to post in online in order to publically identify the punk? Why are you counting on other people to step in to defend you? You have to be willing to defend yourself–not necessarily responding to the attacker with physical force, but at least being willing to take an action of consequence. It’s not clear at all that writing an OpEd will have much consequence.

  12. Rick says

    @Rob Why should someone have to come to the defense of a grown man when one of his students calls him a fag? Why can he not defend himself? Any straight man would have. Which I am sure is what all the bystanders were thinking.

    And if he HAD been a man about it and had responded appropriately, the little punk would have retreated, having learned his lesson.

    Instead, he behaved like a typical sissy, apparently, and I therefore have no sympathy at all for him.

    Being attacked or threatened by a mob is one thing; being physically threatened by someone who is much bigger and stronger than you is another, but allowing yourself to be publicly humiliated by one of your own students or by another man of the same size is truly pathetic and any gay man who allows that to happen has only himself to blame for becoming a constant target.

  13. StillmarriedinCA says

    @Rick–Yeah, physically assaulting a student is not gonna cause any problems for the professor at all. No matter what the student was saying, that would only get the professor in trouble with the school as well as the law. And I love that you equate using violence to solve your problems with being a “man”. Go back to your cave.

  14. Rick says

    @STILLMARRIEDINCA Who said anything about assaulting the student? I wasn’t there, but from the description, it sounded as thought the professor just sat there and allowed himself to be verbally abused, waiting–like a little woman would do–for someone to “come to his defense.” He didn’t even “talk back” to the student or put him in his place verbally. No, he just wimped out, which, as I say, no straight man would have done in exactly the same situation.

    As for using violence, it sometimes is necessary when you yourself are threatened by it–it doesn’t sound like that was the case here, but it often is when gay men are attacked….and under those circumstances, yes, they should have enough courage to respond accordingly, and if they don’t, then they are indeed cowards and less than men…..as you apparently are, based on your remarks.

    Squeal though some of you might, the world is never going to respect any of you for being cowardly little pu$$ies, no matter how much you whine……You can either behave like men or face the consequences of not doing so…..

  15. Matt says

    Anybody who follows college football knows what that stadium is like. This is sadly very mild compared to stuff that happens there all the time. Virginia Tech and Penn State (big rivals) won’t play them anymore due to safety concerns. That stadium is an embarrassment to the state of West Virginia. The state as a whole is actually pretty tolerant and peaceful.

  16. Rin says

    @Rick,

    and don’t say like a little woman would do. I’m from the 313 and I will tell you this right now, man or woman, no one is going to publicly humiliate me and I can name handfuls of women who feel the same way.

    This is not a “gender” issue. All adults should demand respect when disrespect is meted out. As adults you need to either learn to stand up to people or STFU about it afterwards.

    This is not a “gang” situation, this is two adults…heck, I might even say something to a group depending on what was said.

    Some things are worth taking a punch or ten for–no one would pick on a child around me even if I got beat for it, no one would talk about my kids or mother…I’ll take a beating for the right reason.

  17. Rick says

    @RIN That is all fine and good, but you would be protected, as a woman, if you lashed out at the guy, by the chivalry code, which would have ensured that other men would have come to your defense if the guy attacked you physically….and probably would have done so even if the abuse had only been verbal

    It sounds as though that is what this guy expected, which he had no business doing, as a man.

  18. Francis says

    West Virginian football fans and that the people who go to games in general have a LONG history of abusive, destructive and embarrassing behavior. They’ve made fun of Katrina victims, and yes, Kev, they have a history of racism. So, this sadly doesn’t come as a surprise.

    WV isn’t a state as bad as the deep South or a Utah, perhaps, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves, it’s still a relatively homophobic state, and when you add alcohol into the mix, the rowdiness of football games and the hyper-masculinity of most male football fans, things like this will happen. I’m so sorry this happened to Mr. Brewster, and to those criticizing him, the feeling of being alone, of being vulnerable, being targeted for something you can’t control, is a very hopeless, depressing feeling. I don’t criticize him for feeling bad about it or allowing it to affect him since it is a PROFOUNDLY hurtful thing to be teased and insulted for your sexuality.

    The thing is, now that this incident happened, WVU and Mr. Brewster need to take a stand and make sure something like this doesn’t happen again and why it’s unacceptable that this ever occured. And that’s what he seems to be doing now. He needs to point out which student slurred him and have that student reprimanded, which will send the message that homophobia will not be tolerated.

  19. Rin says

    @Rick

    where did you grow up? I’ve never been “protected” by a man other than my boyfriend in my entire life. I’ve had my nose broken 4 times and have scars on the backs of my legs from being dragged down the street.

    Did any of the “men” help me? No.

    Like I said…my boyfriend did later on, but that didn’t change my life from 8-15.

    The world is not what it was. I’ve had to pull over on the side of the road to help old women change tires with men driving by and not stopping. Maybe in the 1950s women were protected, but if this were still true today women wouldn’t get raped in Washington Square with people trying to figure out what to do, if anything.

  20. Rick says

    “I’m so sorry this happened to Mr. Brewster, and to those criticizing him, the feeling of being alone, of being vulnerable, being targeted for something you can’t control, is a very hopeless, depressing feeling. I don’t criticize him for feeling bad about it or allowing it to affect him since it is a PROFOUNDLY hurtful thing to be teased and insulted for your sexuality”

    @Francis You could say exactly the same thing about race, but I can practically guarantee you that any straight black man that was slurred with the n-word would have fought back, even if all the people around him were white.

    It is about having enough self-respect to defend yourself and if you do that, people around you will respect you, too, but if you don’t, then they will not…..and the abuse will continue.

  21. Francis says

    Maybe, Rick. None of us know how every individual person would behave in any given situation. With that said, again, there have been NUMEROUS racial incidents reported with WVU football fans. Where are all the fights? Where is the uprising against West Virginia fans from black organizations.

    See, Rick, some people realize fighting ignorance with violence isn’t the answer. Sometimes, you got to put your hyper-macho super tough dude act in check and think responsibly and as an adult.

    We’re talking about faculty vs student. He beats the student up, he looks horrible to everyone. He beats the student up, he gets beat himself. His career ends, and his reputation is ruined. Knowing West Virginia, he’d almost assuredly be threatened with violence and death for being gay.

    Not every confrontation or circumstance warrants violence, in fact, most don’t. At the end of the day, punching this drunk idiot kid accomplishes nothing, but changing the culture of WVU football fans in general is what most certainly accomplishes what we all should strive for, which is enlightenment, acceptance and education.

  22. Rin says

    @Francis,

    I hope you don’t think I’m advocating that he beat the stupid up like Rick is…

    I’m saying that regardless of whether or not someone takes a swing at me, I’m going to stand up for myself.

    A school kid does not have the same options as a college professor does. The professor should have stood up to the drunk.

    We have two choices that command respect: the way of the pacifist and that means turning the other cheek and forgiving (and not complaining about it later) or the way of the sword (to meet aggression with the same level of aggression).

    You cannot have the middle ground and still have the respect of others. You can stand in it, jump up and down, make a scene, but people will not respect you because you did not make your stand.

    Gandhi made a stand.
    Dr. King made a stand.
    Alice Paul made a stand.
    Malcom X made a stand.
    Che made a stand.

    Waiting until you are in the safety of your own home to write a firmly worded email may garner you sympathy but it won’t bring you the respect you seek.

    Even from the standpoint of strategic warfare…it was a one on one situation. He had every opportunity to call the classless little punk out in front of everyone because it was one, drunk student–not a line of police or an angry mob.

    There are times when you HAVE to stand up for yourself or lose an important opportunity, IMO.

    And I don’t want to hear from Rick that its easy for me to say because I’m a female or whatever. I’ve had my say when I knew I was going to get the crap kicked out of me.

    Bullies win when you do nothing.

  23. Paul R says

    @Rin: I’d advise you and everyone else to ignore Rick (aka Jason). His screeds about bisexuality are bad enough, but his posting on the first page of comments show that he clearly has no respect for women and no understanding of pretty much anything.

  24. Francis says

    Oh, I 100% agree with you, Rin. The teacher should have called this kid out for what he was doing, and he should have used his authority to see to it this kid was punished for his behavior. I also agree that in cases such as this, one has to be strong and not allow a bully like this accomplish what they please, which is to bring you down and make you feel small and take away your self-respect.

    I also agree that if someone goes after you physically, then all bets are off. Basically, when you’re in a position of vulnerability against a person who is attacking you in one form or another, you have to stand up and fight for your right to live in peace and as who you are.

    With all of that said, Rick is a sexist, homophobic pig, and Bruce is another one of Rick’s troll names.

  25. near mountaineer says

    I strongly disagree with Spartacus. The op-ed column memorializes the incident, and should spark dialogue at all levels of the university. It likely marks a watershed moment at WVU, if not West Virginia overall. A private action would have missed an opportunity to effect such positive changes, as well as full retribution.

    I don’t know what WVU’s rules are, but I’m rooting for the student to be expelled.

    I know someone who was expelled from college due to using a dormitory fire extinguisher for fun — that is, when there wasn’t a fire. He was, also, drunk; and it didn’t matter one whit that he was drunk. He had initiated the consumption of alcohol that he made him drunk. I suspect the same is true of the student in the football stadium.

    The prof is a *hero* for speaking out here. While I imagine he greatly resented having to write it, the column needed to happen.

    By the way, imagine if a drunk white student concerned a black professor (female or male) and undertook verbal abuse involving use of the word “n*gger” 27 times? Would the consequences for that kid be anything less than expulsion, I wonder? In any case, the EXACT SAME STANDARD that WVU would apply in such an instance should apply here.

    Any less and WVU can expect some serious boycotting, along with a sullying of its reputation.

  26. says

    So the WVU “Queer” Student Union is going to spread the word about campus homophobia, are they? Yeah, they’ll spread it around real good, and they won’t have to do anything but announce their stupid-ass name! What colossal idoicy, to be a Gay person in the Bible belt and invite people to call you “queer”! Your tipster will never admit it, but his organization is reinforcing the homophobic atmosphere at WVU. They’re partially responsible for what happened to Professor Brewster. When it comes to promoting acceptance and intelligent discussion of LGBT people and issues in a hostile environment, the grade “Queer” Student Unions get is FAIL.

  27. anonwvualum says

    Stuffed Animal, West Virginia isn’t in the Bible Belt, it’s in the Rust Belt. It would be best not to call others idiots when you can’t be bothered to get basic facts about the world right yourself.

    Speaking of which, the fact that you hate a word that has been widely embraced by the world for two decades now doesn’t mean that anyone else has to hate it.

    Queer is a word that is accepted, beautiful, inclusive and accurate. Don’t like it? Don’t use it.

    It’s not exercising our freedom to self-identify that emboldens our mutual enemies, but rather it’s this kind of pointless — dare I say even idiotic? — bickering and would be dictating of others’ lives that gives them hope for our self-destruction.

  28. Bob says

    I can commiserate with the Professor. Had he tried to confront the student in Mountaineer Stadium, it would not have turned out well for him. However WVU does include sexual orientation in its institutional affirmative action statement. And “verbal abuse, threats or intimidation” are violations of the code of student conduct and are actionable. The student should be brought up on charges.

  29. MilitantHomo says

    I’d have punched that spineless drunk pussy right in his face. But that’s me, everyone reacts differently to taunts from alcohol fueled bullies, especially in such a public forum. It usually only takes standing up to a bully once to get them to leave you alone. Where was security? Did no one capture this event on a phone or camera?
    P.S. I bet the little taunter is secretly playing for our team. He’ll “come out” and later apologize. Wait and see.

  30. Paul R says

    Why do so many people consistently post that horrifically antigay people are closeted? There are plenty of people who genuinely hate us and are thoroughly straight, you know.

  31. says

    To Anonwvualum AKA SugahHoneyPlease:

    “Stuffed Animal, West Virginia isn’t in the Bible Belt, it’s in the Rust Belt.”

    What planet do you live on? Most of the Southern and Midwestern USA is considered Bible Belt, including West Virginia. Get educated!

    “Speaking of which, the fact that you hate a word that has been widely embraced by the world for two decades now doesn’t mean that anyone else has to hate it.”

    The English-speaking world has “embraced” the Q-word not for decades, but for centuries . . . as a slur! Now I know for sure you came from another planet. Why don’t you go back?

    “Queer is a word that is accepted, beautiful, inclusive and accurate. Don’t like it? Don’t use it.”

    And you have the nerve to accuse ME of being factually challenged?

    “It’s not exercising our freedom to self-identify that emboldens our mutual enemies, but rather it’s this kind of pointless, dare I say even idiotic?, bickering and would be dictating of others’ lives that gives them hope for our self-destruction.”

    The freedom to be ignorant is no freedom at all, sugar. And our enemies don’t “hope for our self-destruction”, they act upon it, tools like you being their main weapon! But I agree with you on one point: Bickering with an idiot is pointless. Recommending that you see a therapist would be far more constructive. I am recommending it!

    Let me recommend something else, too: Kiss my grits, sugar!

  32. Steven says

    Here’s a helpful tip for the students on that campus:

    Stop degrading yourselves by calling your campus group the “Queer Student Union”. You aren’t queer. I know that you mean to “reclaim” the slur, but it doesn’t work. It is still as slur and your use of it only brands you as folks who lack self-respect. If you are not seen as having self-respect, others – especially conservative students in WV – won’t respect you either.

  33. Spartacus says

    “I don’t know what WVU’s rules are, but I’m rooting for the student to be expelled.”

    @Mountaineer: There’s just one problem. The instructor’s flaccid OpEd did NOTHING to identify the student. How are they going to expel someone whose identity they don’t know? This guy’s OpEd was like a weak, half-assed case of espirit d’escalier. I’m sympathetic to him, but his response was NOT forceful or effectual.

    Where I lose a bit of sympathy for him is when he seems to say that being called a ‘fag’ humiliates him. I hope he will be able to develop a bit more sense of self, at least, if not a full spine.

  34. Andrew says

    This story intrigued me, but I can’t find anything else about it on the net. So we are basically getting just one side.

    Some harsh comments here against the professor. One must remember that academic types are usually a little eccentric. However, this incident was in a stadium full of rowdy football fans, many drunk. Not exactly the best time to take on a mob.

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