Friday, March 19, 2010

My Weekend Crush

I didn’t go to my prom. There are several reasons for this including but not limited to I didn’t believe in them, I broke out into hives at the thought of wearing a fancy dress and I wasn’t asked. Instead, I drove around that night with a friend and said snarky things about the people who were in prom. I’m pretty sure we had more fun. But, even back then, I never begrudged anyone’s right to go to prom. And I feel the exact same way, if not more so, today. If you want to go to prom, you should get to go to prom.

Which, of course, leads me to the plight of Mississippi teenager Constance McMillen. By now you’ve hopefully heard her story. The 18-year-old Itawamba County Agricultural High School student made national headlines last week because she asked her school if she could wear a tuxedo and bring her girlfriend to the prom. I know! What year does she think this is? 2010? The school said no (they have a policy against same-sex dates at prom – since they rightfully know it’s actually 1910). Then Constance asked the ACLU to politely show them the correct date on the calendar. But instead of just letting her wear what she wanted and slow dance to Taylor Swift songs with whom she wanted, school administrators canceled the whole damn prom. That’ll show the gays! No one can dance now! Bwah-ha-ha-ha-ha! [Insert hand-wringing and/or stroking of a white cat.]

Now that this sort of close-minded, intolerance still exists should not come as a surprise to anyone. But that more young people like Constance are standing up to it and not accepting inequality as a status quo anymore is inspiring. Constance didn’t just ask one person for permission and leave with her tail between her legs when she was told no. She went to the vice principal, to the principal, to the district attorney, to the superintendent and ultimately to the school board. Then she contacted the ACLU. And now the ACLU has filed a lawsuit in an attempt to get prom back for everyone.

So what gave this 18-year-old the strength to take on an entire school district? She told Michelangelo Signorile on his radio show:
“I am proud of who I am, regardless if I’m different... I decided maybe I could make a change, not just for me but for future generations of kids.”

Of course, the school’s cowardly decision has made things even more difficult for Constance. This is a small town in Mississippi, after all. And, well, it’s high school. She said since prom was canceled she thinks about 70 percent of the school had turned against her, making her the villain.

Luckily, there have also been supporters, too. Constance has a Facebook fan page with more than 360,000 supporters. And the celesbians are fans, too. Wanda Sykes invited Constance and her girlfriend to attend the GLAAD awards. Cat Cora (herself a Mississippi native) issued a statement and offered to make an appearance at prom. And Ellen DeGeneres is having Constance on her show today.

But this isn’t really about star power of media appearances. This is about the power of one person with the courage, determination and eloquence to know her cause is just and not let anyone tell her any different. As Constance told Signorile:

“Just because you are different for some reason, you don’t have to put up with that. I want people to understand that they don’t have to put up with it, and you should stand up for yourself.”

Life is so complicated, yet so simple. We all want to be happy, to feel loved. We all want to be accepted, to be equal. Those who fight against our most basic humanity, our simplest needs, complicate things endlessly. But, thanks to people like Constance, perhaps more people will realize how needlessly it is complicated, too. What she wants isn’t radical. In fact, it’s downright traditional. As she told the AP:

“I want my prom experience to be the same as all of the other students, a night to remember with the person I'm dating.”

See, simple. Thanks for the reminder, Constance. Happy weekend, all.

p.s. If you want to warm the cockles of your heart even more, check out Autostraddle’s outrageously adorable Lesbian Prom Gallery. It’s so fucking cute it almost makes me wish I’d gone to my prom. Almost.

13 comments:

brochesPOP said...

I am so glad tha something like this has made public. She is a very brave girl, and like she said, I hope that this act will make things easier for future generations.
Dorothy this was a great Weekend Crush, congrats ;)

Robin said...

Wow. I don't envy her the vitriol that I'm sure is coming from some of her fellow students, and I definitely applaud her courage and conviction. Well done, Constance.

.

WV: fiessen -- (adj.) willing to fight, esp. in a feisty manner. "That Constance McMillen is fiessen."

atomicdolphin said...

Right on! I was so inspired and impressed by this young woman and the courage of her convictions. With Constances on our side, how can we possibly lose?

Syd said...

I'd like to point out that this is more a reflection of this backward assed school district than the state of Mississippi.

I live very freely gay in Mississippi. Never had a problem.

Still, it's embarrassing.

snookie said...

thanks snarker, I didn't know about this!
Go Constance!

Shasta said...

I'm pasting this info from Dan Savage's blog - contact information for the people who decided to cancel prom and now Constance is being harassed. http://www.thestranger.com/seattle/SavageLove?oid=3627249

E-mail, call, and fax Itawamba Schools superintendent Teresa McNeece (tmcneece@itawamba.k12.ms.us, phone 662-862-2159 ext. 14, fax 662-862-4713) and Itawamba Agricultural principal Trae Wiygul (twiygul@itawamba.k12.ms.us, 662-862-3104). Then join the Facebook page "Let Constance Take Her Girlfriend to Prom." And, finally, make donations to the Mississippi Safe Schools Coalition (www.mssafeschools.org), which is organizing an alternate prom that will welcome all students, and make a larger donation to the ACLU LGBT Project (www.tinyurl.com/yl9mvkb).

theliminalstate said...

As a grrrl of a certain age, Constance's courage brings me to tears. As an educator, all the Prom pics published on Autostraddle bring me to tears....so now I'm just a weepy old lesbian...thanx a lot.

Anonymous said...

why even should ask?
what about just go with her girl friend,
and enjoy the party thing?

whoever they're everyone wants be happy.
so why bother..
and thinking of difference..

is it really about difference?
some people love things, like rocks, works,
cars, and they get married with the things.

everyone loves what they love.
so if some girls love girls, the point is
not because they're girls.

I mean it's just about like someone whoever
the person is. I mean I'm not like someone because
the person is a woman.

I see hundred or thousand female on street,
should I like them? I even don't look at them.

I think the point is something special about.
when people like a person or thing.

ps. go to prom i'll lend you my time machine. :)

Anonymous said...

I mean go to prom please.
but, don't mind,
rest of the world doesn't have that kind of thing.

thank you for the post,
nice day!

Making Space said...

Ellen gave her a $30,000.00 college scholarship.

pwned_by_her said...

I remember one of my friends was terrified that our school wouldn't let her bring her lesbian tuxedo-wearing best friend to the prom. We didn't have a ban on same-sex couples, but it was frowned upon. Thankfully, southern Virginia is a little more level-headed than Mississippi it would seem. But not much if our current governor is any indication. But yeah, god knows how much money the entire district is going to lost just because they're retarded bigots.

Anonymous said...

ds, I was thinking about time machine yesterday,
what if I use it and go back as I'm but
you're nineteen. so, I'm older than you.

do you think am I gonna be good role model
for young ds?

so, I'm gonna be boss of you, cus your so YOUNG.
:) nice weekend!
I generally miss you on weekend.

Anonymous said...

ds, it's so lovely outside!
wanna walk away forever.
what a beautiful weather~ :)