Members of the Morehouse College football team are being accused of homophobic bigotry during a viewing of the film Dear White People. The ugly event occurred this past weekend in Columbia, South Carolina, while the team was there to play Benedict College. According to witnesses, the team entered the theater in a large group, and while viewing the film discovered that the character of Lionel, played by “Everybody Hates Chris” star Tyler James Williams, was gay.
As the movie continued to play members of the team openly disapproved of the homosexual behavior shown on the big screen. Some members of the team walked out of the movie while others stayed and made comments such as “What kind of movie is this?” and “What is this gay s—?” as the character Lionel engages in a same-sex kiss. But perhaps, the most disturbing display of behavior during the show was the cheering of team members when Lionel is violently beaten for being gay. According to witnesses, members of the team approved of the beating and made vile comments. However, not all team members participated in this vile display of hatred.
Team member Raymond Ware made the following comment “As a student and football player for the Maroon Tigers, I was disturbed by the reaction of my teammates during certain scenes of the movie. The remarks and outbursts were outright embarrassing and prejudiced. I am big on reputation and presentation, however, this is not a true representation of our institution. We are sincerely apologetic that the loud embarrassing remarks were heard and not the intellectual discussion, which we also engaged in, after the movie. Sorry to give off such a poor perception to the public eye, we are apologetic.”
The president of the group “Morehouse SafeSpace,” Morehouse’s Alliance for Gender and Sexual Diversities, also issued a statement regarding the incident. Marcus Lee wrote “Our situation is a complex and peculiar one. I’m proud to say that many of us (students and alumni) have committed to loving ourselves, each other regardless of, and in some cases because of, our differences, moreover, there are many faculty and staff members, including the president of the college, the office of student life, several professors and others that embrace us.”
Lee goes on to say in regards to the football team’s behavior that “I don’t think the football team’s reactions are inherent to them specifically. Instead, they are a product of a grooming process that begins in the world and is buttressed or goes uninterrupted at Morehouse, that’s checkered with heteronormativity and silence; inclusive spaces are forged here in spite of, not because of, the culture of the college.”