Prom dates Julia and Maddie of Victoria, British Columbia
… And why Constance McMillen shouldn’t have to miss hers.
I started dating Reginald Sleeth my senior year, second semester. He’d already graduated from our high school a couple years prior.
I remember the chick he took to prom that year. I was a 10th grader in the seventh circle of my awkward phase who was secretly pining after him although we were only friends. She was a rich, skinny blonde from the rival school who had bought a strapless dress in his favorite color and wore long opera length satin gloves. They looked so good together their picture showed up in the local newspaper. Shortly after his prom, he moved in with that girl and disappeared from my life for a couple years.
I wasn’t jealous, mind. I didn’t have the self-esteem to feel robbed because a guy I had a crush on was with someone else. I just saw that full-color pic on the cheap newsprint and knew that it would never be me. I was neither rich nor skinny nor blonde. Prom wasn’t made for people like me.
I went to Homecoming dances a couple times during my high school career, but I never had a date. All my friends usually had multiple options, but no one ever seemed interested in going with me. And I would’ve sooner died than ask someone! Junior year Homecoming, a female friend’s “just going as friends” date asked me for one dance, and she made a point to come up to me and tell me how nice it was of him. I had to agree, of course, but those things sting.
I’m not sure why Reginald decided to come back into my life. He’d already dated many of my friends and acquaintances, he’d cultivated a mythos at school as an accidental rake. It always seemed like women pursued him and he was powerless against it. It wasn’t that way with me. He hunted me. He got my aim screenname from a mutual friend and messaged me one night out of the blue. He begged for my friendship back. Then slowly, methodically, he insinuated himself into my life and seeped into that “boyfriend” slot I’d never had filled before, never thought would be filled by anyone.
I had what I’d longed for both those years ago. Reginald Sleeth, former high school Lothario, claimed to be head-over-heels for me. Before long there were signs of the manipulative, abusive hell our relationship would become, but they were subtle. He tried to isolate me from my friends (most of whom thought he was sketchy or whom he’d already dated and dumped with glorious apathy), he freaked out when I was too friendly to his male friends. He cried a lot whenever he wasn’t getting his way, and threw things. As a result, I was in a relationship with someone I’d had a crush on for years, but I wasn’t really enjoying it.
I made the tough decision not to go to my Senior prom. Reginald, who would of course be my date if I went, had so much negative history with my classmates and friends, that I didn’t want to deal with the guaranteed drama. It just wasn’t worth the few bright patches it might possibly provide between all the bickering and moping.
Reginald was livid, petulant. He accused me of being ashamed of him (which was partly true, I suppose), and of not taking our relationship seriously (because no partnership means anything until there’s been at least one awkward updo and a corsage has changed hands, naturally). One day, as we approached the fatal night, he even wept, “I wanted to cover you in orchids and show you off to everyone! Now I can never have that!” But in this I remained strong. He could push me around in a thousand little ways, but I wasn’t going to budge on this. We weren’t going.
Instead, if I remember correctly, we hung out at his place and he gave me my first rimjob. Romance.
With my prom, I took what felt like the path of least resistance. Sure, Reginald was pushing me in one direction, but even worse was the thought of dealing with so much upheaval (probably most of which would’ve ultimately been coming from him, the drama queen) just because I’d brought a polarizing character to my prom.
But what if the only polarizing thing about my prom date had been her gender? What if I hadn’t wanted to bring my asshat boyfriend? What if I’d wanted to take my girlfriend, and cover her in orchids (…is that creepy or is it just that Reginald was creepy and he happened to say that? I honestly can’t discern one from the other sometimes…), and run my fingers gingerly through her updo?
If that’s a problem in and of itself, I call bullshit. Bringing a perfectly sane girl shouldn’t put someone in the same position that I was in having a shitty person as a potential date. But in reality bringing a girl is sometimes much worse. Sometimes a young woman who wants to take her girlfriend to prom doesn’t get to decide whether to go or not. Someone else decides it for her by, oh, say canceling prom.
So let me get this straight… I could have easily taken my evil boyfriend to my prom if I’d so desired, but brave Constance McMillen, who is young, gay, and out in Mississippi, not only can’t take her girlfriend to her prom, but school officials at Itawamba Agricultural High School have decided to encourage her fellow students to hate her by canceling the event altogether! “Sorry, kids, no prom this year. The lesbians killed it.” sort of thing.
That’s not just unfair, it’s downright cruel. Even if you don’t agree with Constance’s dating decisions, you likely wouldn’t have liked mine either if you’d known the details. But you wouldn’t have had anything to say when I tried to purchase prom tickets, would you, Itawamba? Hetero privilege is so stupid and arbitrary.
Constance and her girlfriend should have been able to go to their prom this Friday. Instead, they’ll go to a formal dance being put on by supportive local parents. A federal judge has ruled that her constitutional rights were violated, but has not ordered Itawamba to restore the prom.
Help spread the word about Itawamba’s unconstitutional and punitive actions, and you might win a $100 Eden Fantasys gift card! Constance’s courage has inspired tonic.com and talk show host Ellen Degeneres to offer her educational scholarships. Congratulations, Constance! Hopefully yours will be the last generation to have to deal with this sort of prejudiced nonsense.
On a more hopeful note, see adorable lesbian prom pictures here! Some schools aren’t run by jerks, apparently.