Wednesday, July 21, 2010
The Fake Prom and the Day of Justice
Remember Constance McMillen, the Mississippi teenager who wanted to take her girlfriend to her high school prom?
And how the school board cancelled the prom rather than let her attend. And then hurt and humiliated her further by organizing a fake prom.
And how she tried to turn that cruelty into something beautiful.
Two students with learning difficulties were among the seven people at the country club event, McMillen recalls. "They had the time of their lives," McMillen says. "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]."
Well today was her day of justice.
A school district in Mississippi has agreed to pay a recent high school graduate $35,000 in damages and adopt a policy prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation, according to a statement released Tuesday by the American Civil Liberties Union.
It's a happy ending to a sad story. And a new beginning in the Old South. But what moved me the most was the reaction of my gay friends when I told them the news. Just about all of them said roughly the same thing: they couldn't pay me enough for what I had to endure.
And all I could say was I know. I KNOW.
I didn't go to my prom, and if I was straight I probably wouldn't have gone either. I had to wait until I was seventeen to dance romantically with another guy.
At a street party in very French Montreal, with my new boy friend Sébastien.
That began sort of like this ...
I can't remember much about that night except how shy I was, the friendly cheers, the little paper lanterns, the big shoulders, and how good it felt to say to the whole world...without saying it: I like him and he likes me.
And of course how grateful I am that my motorbike didn't turn into a pumpkin at midnight eh? And that I'm still dancing with the guy I love.
Now thanks to a brave young lesbian a lot of other gay kids are going to get a chance to know how that feels.
From little things come bigger things.
Way to go Constance...