Dear Fellow Fans,
Yes, I know you hate the West Virginia University Mountaineers. I know WVU has been one of our biggest athletic rivals since the 1890s. Heck, I even know that WVU fans have a history of throwing objects at our players and coaches. But do you really think it’s okay to call them the “Brokeback Mountaineers” or the “Mountainqueers?”
We’ve always prided ourselves on making clever jibes at our athletic opponents. But these names are hateful and homophobic. My guess is that we’re trying to comment on WVU’s lesser athletic prowess, that WVU is emasculated because of their inferior athletic abilities and therefore “queer.” We might not have homophobic intentions, but by using LGBT terms to refer to things we dislike and things that aren’t “masculine” enough, we’re still making a homophobic statement. We’re like all those seventh graders who go around saying, “That test was sooo gay.”
Our school seemed like a fairly tolerant campus, so these names are, at first, kind of surprising. But really, how accepting is our student body? There’s a difference between tolerance and acceptance. American society has become more tolerant: it largely condemns homophobic actions and words and no longer treats LGBT citizens as “deviants” or criminals. It’s one thing to change policy, but quite another to change deeply entrenched attitudes. Even though the LGBT community is tolerated, I don’t think it’s been fully accepted yet. I think that “Brokeback Mountaineers” is a symptom of this failure of acceptance. America has come so far in recognizing the rights of LGBT citizens, but we’ve also got a long way to go.
In the meantime, it’d do us some good to stop using “queer,” and “gay” as derogatory terms. By becoming aware of the painful history of violence and hatred implicit in these names, our society might take one step closer toward acceptance. So, stop. You’re a smart bunch, and I challenge you to come up with some wittier, less bigoted names—just in time for football season.