If you are a student at the University of Southern Mississippi, you know exactly what this title means. Every Tuesday, by the Fountain on the Hattiesburg campus, a group of men holding vulgar signs stand there "preaching God's words" while damning people to hell. Being a freshman, I don't know much about what prompted this man's motives to come onto to our open campus to tell anyone in the LGBT+ community, any girl with enough confidence to wear shorts and a tank top, and anyone who considers themselves a feminist that they are going to hell.
Let me start by stating that I grew up in a very Episcopal household, meaning my viewpoints on religion is open-minded as well as accepting.
The first time I was even aware that people were against same-sex relationships was in the 4th grade after a boy called a girl's T-shirt gay. I remember going home and crying because I had no idea what it meant. As she got ready for bed, my mom explained to me that some people think that members of the LGBT+ community were abnormal. To me, these men who claim to tell God's words are insulting to the religious people in my life who spread nothing but love. They're insulting to the people who wrap themselves in a rainbow flag or a trans-pride flag while being told that being themselves unconditionally and loving who they want is a sin. They're insulting to the girl who wore her Feminist AF shirt and kept her cool when they told her it's a man's world.
They're insulting to anyone who thinks even the slightest bit differently than them.
It has become the center of a joke on campus. People create fake protests such as the new "bird aren't real" idea. Friends of the same gender will walk by obviously holding hands just to start the men off on a tangent. That's fine and all, but these guys are just looking for attention. When talking to my friend -an openly gay male- he commented on how he found it annoying that straight girls were making out in front of these protesters to cause a scene. They're not the ones who have to regularly deal with such blatant ignorance and hate. They anger these guys up and just continue on with life. When my friend explained this to me, it made sense. Not every kid who identifies on the spectrum goes home to a family that's accepting of who they are- they can't just walk away from something that they face almost daily.
The other week, these men came not once, but twice in one week. While they made their regular Tuesday appearance, they also decided to show up once again that Friday. After waking up at 10 a.m. to find friends' snapchat stories filled with videos of the guys' vulgar anti-abortion signs, I threw on my "Feminist AF" shirt (gifted from my sister- who happens to be married to a girl). I joined my friend Rosy for lunch then we walked casually by the preacher. We didn't say anything to them, we were just talking about regular everyday topics. As we walked past I hear one scruffy looking guy call out towards us "Feminist are going to hell". At this point, I was deep into my conversation and had forgotten about my shirt. Confused I looked at Rosy and asked, "what did he just say?" to which scruffy shouts louder, "Feminist are going to hell! It's a man's' world! You're going to hell!". In shock, I burst out laughing and kept walking. Rosy started yelling back, singing "Jesus loves me" while sounding like the starfish in Finding Nemo when Darla kept tapping on the glass.
For the rest of the day, I sat in Rosy's dorm, still confused about what had happened. Being a white middle-class American, the only type of "discrimination" I am faced with is sexist comments. I have friends, though, and I've heard their stories. But I've never truly witnessed it in person until the first time I walked by the Fountain on the first Tuesday of the school year.
There's no reason for these men to come onto our public campus, especially seeing their effects on students. In the cheesy scheme of things, college is where people are supposed to start finding themselves. It's kind of hard to find yourself when you're being told by complete strangers that who you are is wrong.