Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Faking it

People can be awful. Really, truly, unrepentantly awful. While this is nothing new, the realization of how awful people can be particularly to members of the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and questioning community is like a kick in the gut anew each time. Which, in turn, is exactly how I felt when I heard lesbian teen Constance McMillen was sent to a fake prom by her town.

You remember Constance, the 18-year-old lesbian student who asked her Mississippi high school if she could go to prom in a tux with her girlfriend. And instead of saying, “Of course, who loves dancing more than the gays?” her school said “Ewww, gay! No prom for ANYONE !” Lawsuits were filed, private proms were organized. And then Constance was finally invited to the parent-sponsored private event. But when she got there, only five other students were there. All the other students? They were far away from the gay at the “real” prom enjoying their night of throwing up in limos and potentially getting date raped.

Constance told The Advocate:
“They had two proms and I was only invited to one of them. The one that I went to had seven people there, and everyone went to the other one I wasn’t invited to….It hurts my feelings.”

And who chaperoned the fake prom? The principal and teachers. Classy, really classy.

Oh, and guess what? Among the seven students there were two with “learning difficulties.” Said Constance, “They had the time of their lives. That’s the one good thing that come out of this, [these kids] didn’t have to worry about people making fun of them [at their prom].”

Hey, that sounds kind of familiar. Who else was it that rounded up the queers and the people with developmental disabilities and society’s other “undesirables” and shipped them away from the rest of the “pure” world? I wonder if any Jewish kids go to Itawamba Agricultural High School, and if so which prom they got to go to. Just saying.

And if your blood isn’t boiling enough, some delightful townsperson has started a “Constance quit yer cryin” Facebook page. The first post: “Seriously, you've pretty much eff'd up your fellow classmate's best memory of High School.”

What, exactly, is wrong with people? Why are they so terrible and cruel, hateful and ignorant? What makes an entire town conspire to leave the gay kid out (and the learning disabled kids, too, for good measure)? Also, if we all scream the same expletive at the same time in the direction of Fulton, Miss. do you think they could hear us? Because I really, really want everyone who was part of this appalling stunt to hear us.

While it’s cold comfort now, history will prove these people for the shameful bigots that they are. All that rage doesn’t have to be impotent either. We can use it, focus it and fight even harder. People can be awful. But we can be better. We have to be.

CONTACT:

Itawamba County Schools Superintendent Teresa McNeece:

tmcneece@itawamba.k12.ms.us
662-862-2159 ext. 14

Itawamba Agricultural High School principal Trae Wiygul

twiygul@itawamba.k12.ms.us
662-862-3104

SUPPORT

  • Mississippi Safe Schools Coalition
  • ACLU LGBT Project
  • Let Constance Take Her Girlfriend to Prom Facebook Page
  • Constance’s prom may have been fake, but these people are real assholes.

    UPDATE: One more way to speak out. Sign the HRC petition to say "I stand with Constance McMillen.”

    49 comments:

    Kat5 said...

    There's a special place in hell for assholes like that.

    Misty. said...

    I've never been one to complain or write emails of disgust, until today. Thank you for the information to the school. I sent my email... and you may have created a monster. :)

    Anonymous said...

    Shame on them. Emails on the way now. Wake up and join the 21st century!

    Tina-cious.com said...

    Email sent.

    I could vomit, I'm so disgusted.

    Anonymous said...

    Here's the thing: The Constance Quit Your Crying Facebook Page has TOTALLY backfired on it's creators cause now they are crying that Contance's defenders are being too cruel to them. I mean seriously what did they expect?

    Nefarious Newt said...

    What strikes me, is how blatant it is. I've watched the videos and read about Jim Crow laws and segregation, and until now, it had an air of unreality. Could people really be so blatant about their bigotry? Could they think so little of it, as if it were an affectation, like an accent, and not an active hatred of other people?

    These people went out of their way to do this. They marked themselves as bigots, as surely as painting the word in 20-foot-high red letters on the sides of their houses. They did this, in an age where news of it would spread around the globe in less than fifteen minutes. It shocks, only because they seem proud of what they've done, as if striking a blow for bigotry were a good thing.

    I am beyond disgusted, beyond contempt, beyond angry. I don't think I can actually put how I feel into words. The Dalai Lama says we must have a calm mind and a happy heart, but I wonder how you can achieve those things in a world where others refuse to join the human race?

    DirtyJeepDog said...

    To help flood these revolting people with the message that their ignorance is intolerable, I say contact them in anyway that you can.
    Teresa Martin McNeece Facebook page - http://m.facebook.com/tmcneece?rd0b696b7&refid=46

    jeanne said...

    I called and politely asked if the story that I had was true about the fake prom. She said, "What story was that?" and I briefly and neutrally recounted the story. And then the woman HUNG UP ON ME! I called back and said, "Excuse me, we got cut off. I am just calling to see if the stories are true..." and she hung up on me again!!!

    Nefarious Newt said...

    @jeanne: Don't expect them to answer. It's one thing to stage a fake prom to make their point -- it's quite another to own up to it in words. These people will never say the words out loud, but they will do everything in their power to make their feelings known otherwise, which is just as reprehensible.

    Hoot said...

    The punishment for those morons is that they get to spend the rest of their lives in that delightful little Hamlet whereas Constance has the world before her.

    Nefarious Newt said...

    @Hoot: They don't see that as a punishment -- that's what they want. They want reality and the rest of the world to leave them alone, rather than be dragged, kicking and screaming, into a greater humanity.

    Hannah said...

    According to Dan Savage, a trans student was suspended from the same high school earlier this year. So, while you are writing to complain about the fake prom, mention the disgusting transphobia that hindering Juin Baize's education.

    Here's the link to the Savage post (I apologize in advance for the pronoun problems in the post.)
    http://slog.thestranger.com/slog/archives/2010/03/24/itawamba-agricultural-high-school-suspended-a-transgendered-student-back-in-january

    Sapphic Hyperbole said...

    "What, exactly, is wrong with people? Why are they so terrible and cruel, hateful and ignorant?"

    Do you even have to ask this question when you know that this occurred because of the "Dumbing Down" of America. Courtesy of the GOP who have been successful in their campaign of "Ignorance is Bliss" and "Education = Elitism."

    Do you even have to ask this type of question in a country where a vice presidential candidate is NOT chosen as a result of their educational acheivements and political expertise but because they can "See Russia" and have a vagina?
    Should you ask this question in a country that is so racist that it cannot accept a president of color and since racism and sexism go hand in hand it's not unfathomable that homophobia rear it's ugly head.
    Can U ask this question in a country so delusional as to blindly accept Vatican denials of child molestation, comparing allegations to rumours that are tantamount to persecution of the Jews?
    How can you even ask such a question, when the answer is so obvious?

    jennifer from pittsburgh said...

    It boggles the mind and chills the soul to consider precisely how hateful these people are to not only plot out this sort of thing, but then to actually carry it through.
    I wish Constance the best in life once she's get the hell out of Mississippi.

    Jan_Ham said...

    Thanks for venting and channeling our collective rage against this latest demonstration of severe character deficit in Fulton, Miss, Ms Snarker. I confess I am flabbergasted for having so severely underestimated the guile of this community (a fake prom--oh my heavens!), and yet I am also delighted by the demonstration of genuine human compassion seen in Constance.

    Sil said...

    mails sent here. Shame on those bigots.

    Kit-kit-kitty kat said...

    Disgusting. Absolutely disgusting.

    This angers me beyond comprehension. Just a question, do a lot of schools have seperate proms for the "different" kids? Maybe it's just my school, but when I went to prom, Junior and Senior year, the "different" kids were there. Hell, my Senior year one of the most awesome guys I've ever met (he also happened to have Down Syndrome) was voted our Prom king. My Junior year, these two gay guys brought their boyfriends to prom.

    I guess what really gets me is that I live in Redneckville, North Carolina. Right in the Bible belt...how's that for funny? Where everyone's idea of fun is mudding and hunting. I went to a very small and Southern school. I'm just utterly confused how my school managed to accept people for who they were when my school was such a small and Southern one. Aren't those supposed to be the most close minded?

    Anonymous said...

    I as well have written an email of disgust to both addresses.I am not usually one for doing this but this situation is disgusting and if I could, I would march on down there all the way from Canada and make everyone in that school system(parents, teachers, students) be forced to write a letter of apology to those 7 individuals who attended the "fake" prom and make all of them march in the next Gay Pride Parade with a banner saying " We apologize and this will never happen again to anyone"...and to Constance- You are a very brave and amazing individual.You will go far in your life and will eventually be able to forgive these small-minded people for having such great fear.But until then, get your message out to everyone, all the way to the President.

    Anonymous said...

    this doesn't surprise me in the slightest. having grown up in the south (well southern VA, but it's still pretty damn south), if there's one thing i'm familiar with, it's stubborn southern malice. and it really doesn't surprise me that the parents put this together. who do you think these kids learn their bigotry and ignorance from? mmmm, you can almost smell the vinegar from the douchiness. conservative, christian parents are usually some of the most privately unpleasant people i have ever had the misfortune to meet. they will do anything to protect the purity of their precious little douchebag snowflakes. these people are the ones who give legitimate southern republicans (yes, i'm a republican and i'm gay....log cabin ahoy) a bad name.

    okay, rant over.

    good on you Constance, whether or not what you said was REALLY how you felt (i would be spewing obscenities and egging peoples's houses, but that's me) you handled this whole thing with more grace and compassion than your town seems to have in their little fingers. <3

    Anonymous said...

    Last I heard they cancelled the prom and planned a separate prom, and the court decided not to force them to reinstate the real prom. Now they decided to do both? I'm sure they knew that kids would most likely go to the real one at the school. Now Constance missed her prom and I hope she sues.

    Neon Blue said...

    It's ridiculous the lengths people will go to just to be cruel to a teenage girl.

    Kristin said...

    I'll take Assholes for two hundred, Alex.

    Jenny said...

    Yesterday I was full of rage but today I have a lump in my throat reading your post. I'm so heartbroken for her and the millions of kids--past and present and future--who have to deal with hate and closed-mindedness.

    Constance, run for your life away from that place when you can. There are so many places out there where you will be loved, accepted and celebrated for just who you are.

    Anonymous said...

    wow, you coud make propaganda for north korea i bet

    Anonymous said...

    Thank you for the contact information! I emailed them both today and put the contact info on my Facebook page. God bless Constance!

    theliminalstate said...

    These are OUR kids. Constance is ours and those of us in the older generation fought long hard battles so that this kind of thing would not happen to her or any other glbt kid. It sickens me that our work, not to mention the g-damn 21st century has not made it down to Mississippi yet. Directing traffic from my blog's daily journal page to yours cuz you already did all the work...and you do it so well!

    CarrieB said...

    I have read all the comments and am at a loss of words to describe how utterly flabbergasted I am that adults (or rather people of the adult age) actually went to such lengths to be so cruel to one teenage girl. I know that as a person I should be forgiving but in all honesty I hope they burn in hell!

    Anonymous said...

    "you already did all the work..."

    I really wish you all had a backbones and would stop deifying Dororthy Snarker because she DIDN'T do all of the work. Good Grief. Others were posting before she jumped on the band wagon sycophants (a term usually reserved for Sarah "I-claim-insider-indistry-connections-that-just-don't-pan-out" Warn. Could you all kiss any more ass?

    JohnB said...

    It was a PRIVATE prom. That's still leagal in this country, get over it.
    By they way, why didn't she invite other gays to her prom? She would have had alot more people.

    Anonymous said...

    The day I read she'd been allowed to go, I was soo happy for her. Then last night when I found out about the fake prom, it started my blood boiling all over again.
    Sooooo incredibly furious! Screaming all the way from the UK.

    Anonymous said...

    You know what we should do? We should organize the world's largest queer gathering in their bigoted little town- like another Dinah Shore. We should descend on them like locusts, plastering glittery, happy, rainbow stickers on every flat surface (including foreheads), and leaving rainbow feather boas hanging from their trees and lamp posts. I can see it now- it will be like Mardi Gras! And if they try to start trouble, we'll form a human barricade of beautiful, six-foot drag queens, armed with their sparkly stiletto heels and SERIOUS don't-f*ck-with-me attitudes!!! BWA HAHAHAHAHAHA

    Seriously... what they did to this poor girl and a few of her fellow classmates is absolutely deplorable, and utterly reprehensible. I am DISGUSTED, and letters will be flying momentarily.

    Anonymous said...

    I read an article like this and I'm dumbfounded. How do I feel about this, what can I say, what is the answer, is there an answer??

    I'm older and have suffered much of the discrimination and hate associated with being "QUEER". Lived through it, prospered in spite of it and learned compassion because of it.

    There is no answer. Living well is the best revenge. No not accumulating money or things, but; living well, loving yourself and never giving up.

    Amanda said...

    e-mails have been sent, and another batch we be mailed out through my school's LGBT organizations. Thank you very much for the info.

    Amanda

    tlsintx said...

    HRC is on this now - take some action...

    I cannot imagine adult school administrators pulling a pathetic stunt like this. Pathetic. What a horrible example all around. I hope Constance and her girlfriend can feel all the support coming to them.

    Anonymous said...

    hi there,
    i've read the story recently in a German newspaper: http://www.spiegel.de/schulspiegel/ausland/0,1518,683000,00.html
    and then I stumbled over how it continued and I really cannot believe it. Anyway, I've sent an e-mail and I really hope that you people flood ms. mcneece's account like a springtide.
    best regards and a nice day...

    Open-Minded Mississippian said...

    I'm from a Southern Mississippi town and I hate to admit it, but this doesn't really surprise me. People here have trouble accepting things that are different. It's part of our culture. Hello, slavery. I'm not saying that it makes this okay. It's terrible and horrible and completely wrong. I'm sorry, Constance.

    Anonymous said...

    JohnB,

    Why would Constance invite anyone other than her date to what she was led to believe was just a regular prom, not a deceptive stunt put on by all the simpletons that pass for adults in Fulton? Not "her" prom, but what she was told was THE prom.

    If school officials had anything to do with organizing or chaperoning the private prom, then they're up to their eyeballs in more legal trouble. Idiots.

    And if there are so many other gay people that would have attended the fake prom had Constance invited them, then that's an even bigger indictment on the stupid Fulton community.

    If there are soooo many other gay kids there, then what's the big deal about Constance?

    Morons. Inbreds. Ignorant homophobes. Fulton, Mississippi. Asshole of the Nation.

    Anonymous said...

    This is so horrible. I am reminded of the segregation of whites and colored people in the past. What year are we in exactly? 1910? :( For revenge, I joined the facebook page in support of constance. We need to fight!

    Hannah said...

    @anon 1:55pm (I hate anonymous posts...just come up with a screen name. You don't even have to register, for petes' sake)

    Okay, I haven't responded to a troll in at least 10 years, but this is the umpteenth attack on a writer I like in the past week. So, sorry, some of this rage isn't just for you.

    I do not deify DS, nor do I think anyone else does. In fact, I'm pretty sure she does stuff all the time that is bad and/or lame. Every once in a while, I even disagree with her, though, not on how hot women in tank tops are. There are several of us who read her blog pretty regularly and enjoy her writing. Where I come from (you know, civilization), it's nice to compliment people when you enjoy something of theirs. Especially when they do it for fun, provide it for free, and don't get paid. So really, you're annoyed because people give positive feedback to a blogger? How dare we be so nice! We must be sheep, because everyone knows the only sign of free thought is criticism.

    Additionally, if you don't like DS's blog, Sarah Warn's site, AfterEllen, or any other writing on the internet, don't read it! No one is forcing you to read it. Although, we just lost net neutrality today, so that might change. You may not have independent blogs forever, just mainstream corporate voices who, I'm sure, will do a bang-up job of representing queer women.

    Lastly, way to derail a post about Constance for your pettiness. I want to end this on target, so thanks to all the media shining light on this town. Let's keep up the pressure!

    TheWeyrd1 said...

    I believe that if the ACLU REALLY wanted to make an example of this case they would include the fact that the school district and community broke CIVIL RIGHTS LAWS regarding EQUAL ACCESS for the students with disabilities. It's already been settled that SEPARATE is NOT EQUAL. Therefore, sending the kids with disabilities to the NOT REAL prom, even though school staff were supposedly in charge, is NOT EQUAL ACCESS to education (which includes social events associated with said educational institution). The fact that the REAL PROM was "private" and school staff were at the NOT REAL PROM is a manipulation of civil rights laws. Hopefully the ACLU will add this to the first lawsuit, or at least open a second lawsuit on behalf of the students with disabilities.

    Carrie Neal Walden said...

    Ok....I have a few things to say to this!

    First, it is absolutely, entirely, unequivocably unacceptable to have any sort of "fake" or "trick" or separate prom. *We* - meaning those of us with brains, compassion and decency, plus non-judgmental/open-mindedness about sexuality, race, etc etc - are justifiably horrified at that aspect of this.

    BUT. My own prom was chaperoned by teachers/principals/what-have-you . . . I don't know that outrage over that, as you wrote, is at all justifiable.

    And I take humbrage at your stretch of the "prom night stereotype" where you write "....at the 'real' prom enjoying their night of throwing up in limos and potentially getting date raped." Come on. That doesn't do any constructive good to the legitimate argument you're actually making, and it's insulting to any of us who attended proms whenever and wherever (gay, straight or martian!) and magically somehow basically behaved ourselves and - *gasp* - survived.

    Constance should be (should've been) allowed to go to prom with whomever she wants. Bob, who's white, should be able to take Maryellen, who's black, to prom. Etc, etc.

    But it unfortunately doesn't always happen everywhere, all the time. The brave stand up and put their stake in the ground - it's not helpful, though, when that pontification goes juuuust a bit too far. If I'm making sense.

    Just my $0.02 . . .

    Anonymous said...

    carrie neal...really? you take umbrage at a prom night stereo type? that's the main point you had to make?

    and the outrage over the school officials chaperoning the private prom is that they were the ones who invited Constance to the "official" fake prom that she and the disabled kinds went to.

    Anna said...

    I found this comment from the principal

    "I've been called every name known to man," Wiygul said. "I've been called a bigot, a homophobe and a few cuss words. It's been pretty rough."

    Anonymous said...

    From another blog, but one of the best commentaries out there:
    Majoring in bigotry.
    By now you've read about honor-roll student Constance McMillen, the girl stuck in the Meanest High School in America — Itawamba Agricultural High School, of Fulton Mississippi.
    Apparently the school is run by Glee Coach Sue Sylvester.
    I do hope U.S. District Court Judge Glen Davidson has something exciting in store for Superintendent Teresa "stop hounding us" McNeese, Attorney Benjamin Griffith, Principal Trae Wiygul and the various teachers and parents who set up a fake prom and chaperoned the real "no queers or retards" prom — especially given that Judge Davidson ruled that excluding Miss McMillen violated her rights, but wouldn't order the school to reinstate the original prom based in part on the administration's implication that all students would be permitted to attend a new prom (which turned out to be the decoy).
    IAHS Class of 2010, assuming you ever attempt to leave the tidepool you call a hometown, when you fill out the "Education" section on college and job applications, know that you might as well be writing "I'm proud to be a selfish, bigoted shitbag!" I hope it haunts you for the rest of your lives. I also hope that whenever you get short of money, you remember that tonic.com gave Constance $30,000 (and offered her a cool internship) because you're such an asshole.
    Since your liar teachers and your degenerate parents evidently didn't teach you anything about history or decency, here's a more direct lesson for you — see if you can spot the parallels:

    She spent all Saturday getting ready, fixing her hair, slipping into the pink floral dress her mother finished the week before. Her father, a Baptist preacher, helped pick her date, a respectable young man worthy of escorting his daughter, the first and only black student at Jones Valley High School.
    She and her date drove that 1965 night with her father and a retinue of supporters and protectors toward the high school gym. They turned the corner.
    The gymnasium was dark, empty.
    "They had fooled us," Carolyn Tasmiya King-Miller said. "I remember going home that night in tears. I sat on the sofa in my prom dress, lying on my mother's breast and crying all night. That's when the silence started."
    For decades, King-Miller, who now lives in San Francisco, has been stoic about the lonely, humiliating experience of integrating the school in Birmingham.
    ...white mothers of the prom planners had kept the location of the Jones Valley High prom a secret so she couldn't attend...
    Although everyone knew, she didn't talk about her disastrous prom night. Her father told her not to humble herself by asking her classmates about the incident.
    "Of course, they all taunted me about it — 'Did you like the prom, Caroline?'"
    Vickii Howell reporting for The Birmingham News, printed in The Tuscaloosa News/Region Section — 24 November 2000

    And lest you IAHS '10 morons think that story is a comedy, it isn't. Ms King-Miller's classmates ended up begging her for forgiveness 30 years later.
    I hope eventually you develop at least that much decency. But I'm not optimistic.

    Anonymous said...

    i am so heart-broken about this. There was such a teachable moment. I forget how small-minded and mean a group of people can be since I am fortunate to be out in my world/community. After watching the media hype and seeing her on Ellen, I was sure that the school would be forced to do the right thing. And to have this result. It is just heart-breaking. Dear Constance, there is a whole big world out here that will support you and make you feel good about yourself and your loves. Good luck to you! And of course, I wrote my emails... despicable human beings!

    Anonymous said...

    While I think what the HS did to Constance is unacceptable, I think your article, poking fun at people with learning disabilities, and also the broad generalization that ever teen throws up in a limo or aspires to rape another, is the pot calling the kettle black. If you wish to have a society where no one makes fun of or bashes others, I suggest you start with yourself.

    Anonymous said...

    Carrie Neal Walden

    What stereotype? How old arew you that you don't know that this is what the majority of heterosexual teens do: mGet drunk, Throw up in Limos and LOSE their virginity. and I dare to add one more: The popular couple who discard the fetus that was given birth to in the bathroom the infamous: "Prom Night Dumpster Baby"

    Oh yeah heterosexual teenagers are prime examples of how you DON'T want your child to grow up.

    Heather said...

    Excellent blog post as always. Horrible, Horrible situation that brings tears to my eyes everytime I read about it. Email sent.

    subversivehippy said...

    I'm calling the school superintendent today, as well as writing. Also mobilizing as many people as I can to do the same.
    This cannot happen in a civilized society. I'm sick about it. Christ.