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Tina Fey has a message to University of Virginia students who continue to chant a decades-old homophobic anthem at football games: Cut it out.
The Saturday Night Live alum and 30 Rock creator appeared in a recent video with other students, faculty, and alumni of the Charlottesville college to call on sports fans to drop the anti-gay chants from UVA's patronal song, "The Good Old Song." "We come from old Virginia," students can often be heard chanting on Saturday game day. "Where all is bright and not gay."
When the song was originally written at the turn of the 19th century, its lyrics did not include the disclaimer that the Old Dominion is homosexuality-free. Instead, its alleged author, Edward A. Craighill, wrote the exact opposite: that all in Virginia was "bright and gay."
At the time, "gay" did not mean "homosexual." Merriam-Webster defines the word's original usage as akin to "happily excited" or "keenly alive and exuberant."
But as the word became synonymous with the growing LGBTQ+ movement in the post-Stonewall era, the negation was unofficially adopted by UVA football fans in the mid-1970s. Not all attendees opt for the homophobic interjection, however. Others taunt UVA's archrival, Virginia Tech, by yelling, "F**k Tech!" at the appropriate moment.
The video released by the university, however, urges students to not chant either version. In the nearly two-minute segment, talking heads refer to "The Good Old Song" as a "song of celebration" and a "song that really unifies."
"I don't think it would win any Grammys," a man in an orange hard hat says in a testimonial, "but I'll tell you one thing: It'll win your heart."
Critics of the homophobic rhetoric embraced by some fans say it's antithetical to the spirit of joy, camraderie, and inclusion for which the "The Good Old Song" stands. "That obviously is not only not politically correct," one respondent says, "it's heinous and pretty divisive."
Fey, one of the college's most famous alumni, also lent her voice to the video. "I just had an amazing idea: Stop doing that," the comedian says of the homophobic chant.
But even an Emmy-winning actress -- who studied playwriting and acting at UVA -- may not be enough to get college sports fans to stop their anti-gay ways. According to the LGBTQ+ news site OutSports, the school's queer student group has been rallying to discontinue the chant since at least the early 2000s.