More than 1,500 New Yorkers gathered today in Manhattan to mourn the death of a 32 year-old gay man, who was shot down on Friday just blocks away from the historic Stonewall Inn in an apparent act of anti-gay bias.
GLAAD Reaching out to Vanderbilt about Anti-Gay Shirts
UPDATE II: It is still unclear where these shirts originated, whether they were created by Vanderbilt students (as it was reported to us) or someone else. A spokesperson for Vanderbilt said he didn't find any evidence of a broad campaign among students to wear these shirts to Saturday's game.
UPDATE: The shirts have been removed from the online storefront where they were for sale. Will have more info as it becomes available.
This morning, GLAAD reached out to Vanderbilt University after we became aware that students were planning to wear t-shirts that used sexual orientation as an insult during an upcoming (nationally televised) basketball game. The game is against Kentucky, which recently won its 2,000th game and celebrated with t-shirts that read "UK2K." Vanderbilt students were planning to attend Saturday's game in t-shirts that read "UK2GAY." The story was reported in Kentucky sports media, and we found out about it thanks to the several dozen of you who called, emailed, tweeted and sent incident reports. It's unclear how many of the shirts have been sold or how wide the campaign is to get students to wear them.
The creators of the shirt clearly recognized the potential for this to be seen as anti-gay and placed a disclaimer on their online storefront that reads:
**These shirts are not meant to be offensive or derogatory. They are only meant to be humorous.**
But whether they're "meant" to be offensive or derogatory or not, the fact remains -- they are.
These shirts are not meant to celebrate the fact that the University of Kentucky has a vibrant LGBT community. They're not commending UK for its successful Gay-Straight Alliance. These shirts are meant to insult a rival. And the "insult" here is based on the assumption that being gay is bad. Maybe they're meant to be humorous, but what message do they send Vanderbilt's LGBT students? How safe and welcome will they feel on campus when they see their fellow students using their identity to insult a rival? And what about the thousands of other students, who walk away with the idea that it's perfectly fine to use sexual orientation as an insult? As is always the case, intent is important, but so are the messages being received.
GLAAD is in touch with officials at the school and hopes to have a resolution soon.