Around 20 Ole Miss Football Players Heckle University's Production Of "Laramie Project" With Anti-Gay Slurs
An estimated 20 members of the Ole Miss football team did not possess good sportsmanship during the a recent production of The Laramie Project at the university. While attending the Ole Miss theater department's Tuesday night show at the Meek Auditorium, the group of footballers allegedly heckled the cast throughout most of the performance, at times calling actors "fag" and attacking them for their body types.
The play’s House Director Lyda Phillips, who is a theater major and an athletics ambassador, became aware of the reactions of the football players and called a coach, who then called department of athletics Associate Director of Academic Support Drew Clinton to come to the auditorium, according to the theater department’s performance report.
“The football players were certainly not the only audience members that were being offensive last night,” Ledbetter said. “But they were definitely the ones who seemed to initiate others in the audience to say things, too. It seemed like they didn’t know that they were representing the university when they were doing these things.”
After the second act of the play and after Clinton arrived, cast members were told backstage that the football players wished to apologize to the cast after the play for their actions, which included “taking pictures of cast members while making fun of them, talking on their cell phones, hollering at the females in the cast and talking to other audience members during the acts,” according to the performance report.
The football team ended up sending one unnamed player backstage to "apologize" with an unspecified statement that reportedly made two theater students cry.
“I have been acting for seven or eight years, and a lot of that has been in front of young children,” sophomore theater major Rachel Staton said. “That was by far the worst audience I’ve ever performed in front of. It wasn’t all football players, but they seemed to be the leaders. If I can go support and respect the football team in their stadium, I feel like they should be able to support and respect me and my fellow cast members when we are doing a show.”
“I am the only gay person on the cast,” junior theater major Garrison Gibbons said. “I played a gay character in the show, and to be ridiculed like that was something that really made me realize that some people at Ole Miss and in Mississippi still can’t accept me for who I am.”
With the Dean of Students now involved in the matter, the Athletics department has promised to get to the bottom of what happened Tuesday night.
Think we'll see an official apology from the football team?