Ole Miss Football Players Interrupt Campus Production of THE LARAMIE PROJECT with 'Borderline Hate Speech'
According to reports, around 20 Ole Miss football players interrupted Ole Miss Theater Department's co-production of THE LARAMIE PROJECT -- Tectonic Theater Project's play about a gay man murdered in a hate crime in Wyoming -- with homophobic slurs on Tuesday night, October 1. Director Rory Ledbetter told the Daily Mississippian the audience's interjections included "borderline hate speech."
"I am the only gay person on the cast," theater major and actor Garrison Gibbons told the DM. "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."
Read the original report on the DM's website.
The football players reportedly attended the production as a requirement for a freshman-level theater course. A performance report stated The Players had been "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."
THE LARAMIE PROJECT's house director Lydia Phillips called a coach following the incident; the coach then reached out to the department of athletics Associate Director of Academic Support Drew Clinton, who arrived at the play after the second act.
After being prompted by the athletics department, one player, on behalf of the entire group, apologized to the cast following the performance.
Ledbetter added that the football players "were not the only audience members that were being offensive" that night, "but they were definitely the ones who seemed to initiate others in the audience to say things, too."