How long does it take a frat party gone wrong to go national? Mix in allegations of an anti-gay assault and the transition from drunken homophobia to national black eye is pretty quick. Just ask Emory.
It took little more than two days for allegations by a gay Emory student that he was put in a headlock and assaulted at an off-campus Sigma Nu party to go from an online article by the Emory Wheel to a local sensation into a national one. Most everyone – from us to the GA Voice, Gawker and Queerty – weighed in on Tuesday, with the AJC bringing up the rear on Wednesday.
The Atlanta campus, often ranked among the most gay-friendly in the country, is scrambling to investigate and sort out the details of what happened. Between the unidentified student’s account in the Wheel and the defense offered by Adam Smith, the alleged assailant, in online comments posted with the story, it’s not so difficult to figure out. We’ll try.
Flamboyant gay boy – he was dressed in a lime-green jacket, red pants and a wizard hat — crashes a frat party with friends late Saturday night. He’d have been better off taking that costume on the road to any number of Midtown bars, but drunk frat guys have their appeal, especially if you’re an underage gay. Drunk frat guy feels threatened by the flamboyant gay and lashes out. But we gays are a witty bunch and he turns the attention back to the frat guy and his gay-ass pink shirt. Snap.
Then the physical stuff starts and well, we’re on our way to a national story, given the recent slew of gay suicides and a recent “guidance letter” from the U.S. Department of Education telling schools that bullying should be treated as more than just an affront to campus codes.
John L. Ford, Emory’s senior vice president for campus life, said in a statement sent to students and the media that the school is “supporting the student involved in the incident” and “has no tolerance for discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.”
What he really wanted to say is that, hey, at least we’re not Morehouse. The all-male, Historically Black College & University in west Atlanta has had its fair share of anti-gay problems and is never confused with gay-friendly campuses like Emory in national rankings.
After banning guys wearing what they think is women’s clothing, the school’s hyper-masculine attitude went into overdrive earlier this month thanks to the Vibe piece “Mean Girls of Morehouse.” It profiles several current and former Morehouse students whose flamboyant tastes in gay offend the campus of 3,000 students and its president, who hadn’t read the article before he reacted and defended his “men.”
Beth Brandt, president of Emory’s Student Government Association, tells the AJC that she will join a coalition of student leaders – yes gay and Greek ones, too – in addressing the growing controversy in a joint letter to be published Friday by the Wheel.
It’s tough to predict what they’ll say, but certainly it will remind us how tolerant the campus is, unless you’re wearing a wizard hat and try to defend yourself from frat boy attacks. Maybe they’ll say, hey, at least we’re not Morehouse.
Or maybe not.