I’m an openly gay student at the University of Mississippi, known as “Ole Miss.” Last week, while I was performing in The Laramie Project — a play about the brutal murder of Matthew Shepard, who was killed for being gay — I was booed and heckled by the audience. They laughed at me. They called me f**got.
During the performance, I felt so much judgment. And worse than that, I felt afraid. Not just afraid of what these people might do to me, but afraid that my school wouldn’t back me up — because many of Ole Miss’s policies do not include protections for gay students like me.
The Ole Miss administration has said it will “investigate” what happened during that performance, but I want more than apologies and empty promises. I want real protection.
I worked with GetEQUAL to start a petition calling on Ole Miss to update all its policies for students, faculty and staff to include protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Will you click here to sign?
What happened during that performance was especially upsetting to me because The Laramie Project is supposed to be a show about learning from what happened to Matthew Shepard. It’s about coming together and treating all people equally.
I hope one day to be able to be my authentic self, open, and without fear of judgment. But the message I got on stage that night was very clear: being gay means being in danger.
This Saturday is the fifteenth anniversary of Matthew Shepard’s death, and on that day, I am going to present my petition to the Ole Miss administration. I know that if thousands of people sign, they will see how important it is that they take action to protect LGBT people on campus.