Vandy Student Publicly Confronts Campus Culture

Mason Boudrye is a sophomore in Vanderbilt’s Blair School of Music and a member of the Meladores - the group won Sing Off last year, but Boudrye wasn’t in the group at that time. Late last month, one evening Boudrye was referred to as faggot on campus by another young man as he passed a fraternity house on Greek Row. Rather than let it pass, as many would, he confronted his fellow student’s casual homophobia directly.

What really disturbed Boudrye was that people who knew what had happened came to the defense of the student who made the homophobic comment, reinforcing the fact that such behavior is acceptable but calling someone out for it is not. This prompted Boudrye to write about his experience in the Vanderbilt Hustler in a provocatively titled letter, “My Name Is Not ‘Faggot’,” exposing the culture of casual homophobia for what it is.

Boudrye agreed to speak with O&AN about this event, his experience on campus as an openly-bisexual man, and the reception his letter has gotten.

 

GRADY: Could you tell us a little about the events that led to you writing your letter?

BOUDRYE: Sure. On Saturday night (2/27) I was coming from a party on campus with several female friends, and we were on our way to another party on the other side of campus. As we passed a fraternity house on greek row, I overheard one gentleman refer to me as a "faggot" to several of his friends.

I stopped and turned around, asking him to repeat/clarify what he had said. I inquired why he said what he did, what he meant by it, why he thought it was ok to do so, etc. He never really responded to me because several of his friends intervened and tried to apologize on his behalf, and then told me to essentially leave and get over it. I suppose they were afraid I would escalate the situation, which is almost comical given the circumstances and historic nature of how these kinds of altercations turn out.

I tried to demonstrate to them that it was actually their actions and their increasing belligerence that was heightening the tension. I soon decided any efforts to have a legitimate dialogue would be futile, so my friends and I left. One of my friends actually got involved too and sort of supported me when I confronted the person initially.

I decided to write the piece because not because I felt individually or personally attacked or victimized, but because I recognized the potential that kind of behavior has to cause immense harm. I wasn't upset because he called me a "faggot," I was upset because our culture and society still accepts that as appropriate and excusable behavior.

I wrote the piece so that maybe someone might read it and realize that they should change the way they view and treat other people, so that they learned exactly how they fit in and contribute to what happens all across the country and the world.

 

GRADY: Do you feel like what you experienced is common/part of the climate at Vanderbilt?

BOUDRYE: I definitely don't believe this was an isolated incident. Actually, I'm sure similar things have happened to other students

 

GRADY: You identify as bisexual: how is that received amongst your peers on campus?

BOUDRYE: And yes I do identify as bisexual because I think it works best to describe to people that I'm interested in both men and women. My sexuality is pretty widely accepted. Some people inquire further and are just curious about what that actually means. Occasionally people doubt it and assume I'm just gay and still unwilling to accept it. So reactions vary, but I haven't met anyone who has openly and blatantly criticized or verbally accosted me. I have had no Westboro Baptist Church encounters so to speak!

 

GRADY: Could you tell me a little about what the reception has been like?

BOUDRYE: The response has been really humbling and exciting. I have received really positive and encouraging comments from at least five of my professors, it was shared numerous times on social media, and I have received emails from several other students, as well as the Director of the Office of LGBTQI Life here on campus. Extended family members and their colleagues have also reached out. Truly the breadth of audience for this article has been much greater than I expected.


Overall, I have been really honored to have written something for which many people have commended me. It has even been called brave and courageous, which I didn't realize it was. It was rather simple for me. I felt really strongly about what happened and I decided I had the right and the opportunity to respond in a rather public way, so I did.

 

Photo of Boudrye courtesy of the Vanderbilt Hustler.

Banner photo courtesy of Tom Hart under a Creative Commons license. Image has been adapted.

 

 

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