An individual wearing a costume that included a sign with a derogatory word for gay men and the description “I’m the scariest thing on campus” put Provo’s LGBTQ community on edge Friday afternoon.
The Halloween costume was originally assumed to be worn by a straight student making a homophobic slur but was later identified as being worn by a gay student trying to make a point.
“This is not okay,” @mormanarmchair said in a now-deleted tweet. She declined the Daily Universe’s request for an interview.
The student wearing the costume did not respond to The Daily Universe’s request for an interview but did explain his actions on Twitter.
“It’s been really healing for me to reclaim the f slur,” the student tweeted. “You’re right this is the wrong context and I regret what I’ve done, but I believe the f slur can and should be reclaimed personally.”
He also expressed his feelings about the negative reactions he received online.
“I don’t want to go to BYU,” he tweeted. “The fact that people could take my costume seriously shows the environment here is worse than I thought. I’m done I’m done I’m done I’m done I’m done. What an absolute (expletive deleted) show. I’m so so so so sorry to the people I triggered bcos you’re the ppl I luv.”
His attempt to make a statement didn’t land well on Twitter, however, with multiple members of the Provo and BYU LGBTQ community speaking out against it.
“I’m relieved but oof you’ve got some damage control to do,” @therealnta92 tweeted. “The message was not clear. The possibility of a straight person doing this at BYU is simply too high for it to be clearly sarcastic.”
The student who originally posted the photo of the costume also said she does not condone the act despite deciding to delete the photo from social media.
“I am very sorry for the damage I caused,” @mormanarmchair tweeted. “I genuinely did not think the person in the costume was queer person. I just felt very unsafe and thought their intentions were different.”
“We are way too fragile to be able to handle that here right now,” openly gay BYU senior Calvin Burke tweeted. “Sure, we can have a conversation about reclaiming slurs. But those conversations must include & be sensitive to the voices, feelings, & lived realities of the most marginalized among our campus LGBTQ community, & the dialogue should not be led by cis white gays.”
BYU responded on its Twitter account to the original tweet with the photo of the costume, saying “Absolutely not OK. Thanks for letting us know. Going to reach out to you by DM.” But the university did not reply to emails from the Daily Universe to clarify how it is handling the event.
BYU graduate Jaclyn Foster expressed concern about the possibility of BYU punishing the queer student for using the slur. “I will be absolutely furious if BYU punishes a gay student for using the word, no matter how ill-considered I think the costume was,” Foster said in a tweet.