2 Lesbians Elected as Homecoming Royalty at Calif. School
When California lawmakers approved a bill earlier this year to teach students in public schools something about the historical contributions of GLBT Americans, anti-gay groups sought to paint the new law as an underhanded attempt to corrupt school kids.
Indeed, anti-gay groups in California have learned that invoking school children in just about any argument regarding gays will draw a response. The argument was deployed with great success in 2008 when anti-gay organizations sought to convince voters that unless gay and lesbian families saw their existing marriage rights curtailed, innocent children would be "forced" to learn about gays and their families in the classroom. Such messages carry a strong implication that otherwise heterosexual children might be "turned gay" by the knowledge that gays exist, they marry, and they make significant contributions to the nation’s culture and history.
But supporters of GLBT equality say that simply acknowledging the existence of gay Americans and their families isn’t going to turn anybody gay. Instead, they argue, when people learn fact-based lessons about GLBTs they see that gays are like anyone else. Fear and demonization subside, and democratization finds its way to the GLBT demographic. The end result is not more people; rather, it’s greater equality for gays and more understanding on the part of straights.
One case in point could well be the election of two lesbians as Homecoming royalty by their schoolmates at a San Diego high school. ABC News reported on Oct. 30 that students at Patrick Henry High School named two young women to the posts of Homecoming King and Queen on Oct. 28.
ABC News said that the election of senior Rebeca Arellano and her girlfriend, Haileigh Adams, marked one of the first times a lesbian couple had been elected to Homecoming royalty status.
"They were chanting my name and it was one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever had," Arellano recounted. But that wasn’t the best part of the pep rally where the winners’ names were announced.
"I was happier than when I won, my little Haileigh has just been announced Homecoming queen and I couldn’t feel happier!" Arellano declared in a Facebook posting. "Thanks to every single one of you! You guys made this happen and we are all part of something huge. I can’t fully express how grateful I am. I am in completely shocked that this happen. My girl looks absolutely flawless."
At a time when the news is chock full of accounts of vicious anti-gay bullying in the halls and classrooms of America’s public schools, and some of the GLBT youths who are targeted by such bullies are killing themselves, the two female Homecoming winners enjoyed an "abundance of support," ABC News reported, "from family, friends, and students and staff at the school."
That’s not to say that the two young women don’t have their detractors.
"We have a lot of support, but there are also a lot of people who are angry about it," Arellano noted. "Anonymous Patrick Henry students are saying they’re embarrassed and that it’s wrong for a girl to take the spot of king.
"But there’s no other way for us to run [other than] as a couple," Arellano added. "It’s not really fair for us not to have the right to run as a couple."
Advocate.com reported that the young women have been seeing one another since they were sophomores.
Arellano had a more pointed message to share on Facebook, ABC News reported.
"For all the girls who think tradition should be continued, go back to the kitchen, stop having sex before you’re married, get out of school and job system, don’t have an opinion, don’t own any property, give up the right to marry who you love, don’t vote, and allow your husband to do whatever he pleases to you. Think about the meaning of tradition when you use it in your argument against us."
GLBT youth have begun coming out at younger ages and standing up for themselves more often in recent years, both benefiting from and driving increased acceptance of sexual minorities in American society. In some cases, openly gay youths pay a heavy cost for refusing to hide.
But more and more frequently, gay teens are being embraced--or, better still, seen as neither special nor strange.
Bumps in the road remain. Gay and lesbian students are still not always permitted to being same-sex dates to prom, and while gay and lesbian Homecoming royalty is becoming more common, transgender students still often find themselves shut out of the running.
But as acceptance grows, so does visibility; that, in turn, fosters acceptance. And the shift in attitudes toward gays has taken place along generational lines, with older Americans clinging to older models of thought that deny GLBTs full social and legal equality, while for many younger Americans it’s obvious that gays should be treated the same as everyone else.
In other words, full equality and the legal and social opportunities and protections it provides, both to individuals and their families, are no longer the sole province of the heterosexual elite. Degree by degree, equality is becoming commonplace--maybe even something for commoners to enjoy.