Annie Wise said she will never forget the moment she and her girlfriend, Riley Loudermilk, were voted prom king and queen by their senior class in Ohio.
“It was so cool – it was like loud screams, a lot of tears,” Wise said.
The couple, who are both 18 and have known each other since third year, started dating six months ago. They knew their friends were voting for them for the prom court at Kings High School in Kings Mills, Ohio, but they didn’t think they had a chance to win.
“Usually the prom king and queen is like a popularity contest, and neither of us are really on that spectrum of popularity,” Loudermilk said.
After the announcement, friends hugged them and there was “a lot of screaming and hopping,” Wise said. “My crown fell off and broke. There was a lot going on, but it’s something I’ll never forget. It was amazing. “
They are the first queer couple to be elected King and Queen of Prom in the Kings School District, and they have received a wave of support.
The district shared a photo of the couple on Facebook to congratulate them, and the photo has been shared over 400 times and received more than 2,000 comments from people across the country.
Some of the LGBTQ commentators said they couldn’t make it to their prom. Others applauded Wise for wearing a costume and said their school does not allow girls to wear costumes for the ball.
“It took me forever to find this costume I was wearing because there aren’t any tuxedos for girls in all of Southwest Ohio,” Wise said. “But the response I got from it was incredible. I have heard people from our school say that they are more comfortable being gay in Kings. It was worth it.
But not all comments on the school district’s Facebook post were positive. Loudermilk said the school district was struggling to keep up with and suppress negative messages, and many of them said the couple “needed Jesus.” A commenter also said that a prom king should be a man.
The issue was also raised at a school board meeting last week, where a parent said, “Sorry, but I believe there are still two genders, a man and a woman,” according to WLWT5, a NBC subsidiary in Cincinnati. The parent added, “I think tradition means a queen who has a vagina, a king who has a penis and testicles,” according to Fox19.
But school officials upheld the decision. “This is only an initiative nominated and voted on by the senior class at Kings High School,” said Dawn Goulding, community relations coordinator for the school district, according to WLWT5.
Loudermilk said she and Wise expected to receive negative comments as a gay couple, but added, “It was also a bit surprising that a group of adults was bashing teenagers.”
Wise added that the emphasis on her gender was strange.
“I just think it’s weird that someone who’s old enough to be my mom is so worried about my genitals and what’s in my pants,” she says. “I think it’s more worrying than having a gay couple win a ball, obviously.”
The parents’ refusal does not represent the point of view of their classmates, the couple said. And, according to recent surveys, it doesn’t represent most Americans in their age group.
According to 2018 data from Pew Research, about half (48 percent) of Gen Z people, those born after 1996, say that gay and lesbian couples allowed to marry are good for society, and only 15 percent say it’s a bad thing. Center. For baby boomers, these figures are 27% and 32% respectively. A separate report released this year by Gallup found that one in five Gen Zers identify as something other than straight.
“I guess it’s crazy how our generation is evolving and becoming more and more pro-LGBT rights,” Loudermilk said.
Wise added that Warren County is also one of the most conservative counties in the state, but their prom victories show the county’s youth think differently from their parents.
“Most parents are really conservative, but a lot of their kids aren’t conservative at all – they’re very liberal,” Wise said. “And a lot of kids of these conservatives voted for us, and I just think it’s really cool that kids are learning on their own and not just taking all of their information from their parents.”
They hope their victory will help other LGBTQ youth who may not have come out yet.
“I hope it just helps people realize that it’s OK to go out, and it’s also OK to go out at your own pace in your own way,” Loudermilk said. “You will feel the hate for it, but there is also a very good chance that you will get as much love and support as we did.”
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