Post submitted by Sultan Shakir, former HRC Director of Youth and Campus Engagement
Aaron McCorkle, a student and candidate for Mr. Winston Salem State University (WSSU), became the victim of harassment and cyber-bullying over the weekend after opponents of his campaign posted a picture of him dressed in drag.
Aaron is an openly gay student and a respected member of the student body. He was elected to several student positions, including Student Government Association Freshman Class Council (2011-2012), and has served in numerous leadership roles within various student organizations. He is also a Thurgood Marshall College Fund Scholar.
Some of the most disparaging and vitriolic tweets come from an unverified account for radio personality and WSSU alum Brian McLaughlin.
If y'all let a drag Queen be Mr #WSSU, I quit. Straight up.— IG: IAmBDAHT (@BDAHT) March 29, 2014
So we still talking about this Mr. WSSU Candidate cross dressing situation. Either way the next Mr. WSSU is going to be Gay. Deal with it.— Nah. (@_JFarrer24) March 29, 2014
We gonna have 2 MISS WSSU's guys? Get the fuck outta here. Ya turning the position into a fucking joke. Clowns.— IG: IAmBDAHT (@BDAHT) March 29, 2014
The level of vitriol levied against Aaron shows a need to institutionally address anti-LGBT sentiments among students, faculty and staff. The statements also caused Aaron to consider removing himself from the ballot to protect himself.
“I thought about quitting and backing out, but the support I have received from HRC and others has made me decide to stay,” he told HRC's blog.
HRC is working with Aaron to create action steps the university can take to not only address this incident but to prevent future incidents of hate and intolerance from happening, including calling for Brian McLaughlin to be relieved of his duties as an announcer for the university.
Join HRC in standing in support of Aaron McCorkle and all students at Winston-Salem State University who choose to live openly and authentically by retweeting the message below.