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May 29, 2009
On May 23, Sergio Garcia, an 18-year-old gay male student at Fairfax High School in Los Angeles, California, was crowed Prom Queen.
The LA Times reports that when the school put up notices about running for prom king and queen, Garcia felt that running for queen would “better suit his personality.” He said this about his choice…
"I see myself as a boy with a different personality. . . . I don’t wish to be a girl; I just wish to be myself."
What started as somewhat of a joke or a stunt, soon became so much more. Sergio’s campaign generated and encouraged dialogue among students about gender roles and stereotypes.
A few days before the election, each nominee gave a short speech on why they felt they should be chosen as prom king or prom queen. Sergio made these comments to his classmates…
"At one time, prom may have been a big popularity contest where the best-looking guy or girl were crowned king and queen. Things have changed and it’s no longer just about who has the most friends or who wears the coolest clothes.”
"Sure, I’m not your typical prom queen candidate. There’s more to me than meets the eye."
“I will be wearing a suit, but don’t be fooled, deep down inside, I am a queen!"
His speech was concluded with much applause and support from the audience. Not everyone supported his choice to run for prom queen, thinking that if he wanted to be involved he should have just run for king. Ultimately though, Sergio won over enough of his peers to be voted prom queen.
Virginia Uribe, founder of Project 10, (“an on-site support program for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender youth,” in schools, which started at Fairfax High in 1984 and has “since been expanded to encompass the entire Los Angeles Unified School District.”) made this statement…
“I think that indicates where our society is right now. That the young people, they are not involved in this whole argument about gay rights. They think this whole fight is silly. They just accept people for who they are," Uribe said. "Gender- bending is just kind of in."
Speaking of dialogue on gender roles, how do you feel about Sergio Garcia being elected prom queen? What do you think it says about the younger generation’s views on gender and gay rights and visibility? What do you think of the nature of electing prom kings and queens at all?
Here’s what I think. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with a guy being elected prom queen. Why? Because he was elected. It was voted on by the students of Fairfax High School, and he won. They voted for him. If they wanted a female prom queen, they would have had one. I think it’s fabulous that his peers supported him and voted for him. I agree with Virginia Uribe that today’s younger generation is much more open and accepting of LGBTQ people and of those who bend gender norms. The further benefit of that point-of-view is that those are the values that they will one day teach their children, who will therefore also grow up with open minds and hearts, dedicated to the equal treatment of all people. I think that eventually, (most) people of all ages will automatically view LGBTQ people as equal to heterosexual people. As for prom kings and queens in general, I don’t think there’s really anything wrong with the tradition. I agree with Sergio that it has largely been a “popularity contest,” but using this story as an example of how even this “tradition” may be evolving is encouraging.
So, what do you think?