On Saturday, I skipped my way to the stadium in the wet heat with my friends and my boyfriend’s family visiting from far away.
I felt proud to be entering the stadium for the third year in a row as a new football fan.
I never thought I would get excited about football, live in the South, or have so many of my negative stereotypes about Southerners disconfirmed.
Within the first quarter, however, we became subject to harassment, taunting, and provocation by drunk people in the student section sitting behind us. My boyfriend’s brother was particularly subjected to heinous masculinity baiting.
Although, as a graduate student at Auburn, I am older than most people in that section, I was shaking in my boots with the thick anticipation of violence stinking the air.
We didn’t even make it to the end of the first half when a nearby woman referred to me as a “F----- JEW” and we left.
I knew that I was different than most people in the stands, but felt safe assuming that only I knew this. For most of my life I have enjoyed the privilege of not wearing my othered identity statuses externally, unlike many people of color, people with disabilities, or gender non-conforming folks who do not have this luxury.
Saturday, I got a taste of what it feels like to be reminded that because of how I look I DON’T BELONG.
It has taken me a long time to accept and love what makes me different, and I will not have that taken away from me. I will not feel unsafe or allow my friends or family to feel this way.
Please let me know if you can accommodate my request because I have invited a number of friends and family who are Jewish, gay, people of color, or different in some marvelous way to games this season and I will not expose them to what we went through.