Friday, May 29, 2009

Progress or Misguided Intent

The LA Times reported that a male student was named prom queen at Fairfax High School. He did initially as a gimmick but grew into it and wanted to take it seriously. He feels very feminine (“a boy with a different personality”) and earned the support of enough of the student body to earn his crown (tiara?).

I don’t usually say this but pause. HUNH?????

A dude wants to be prom queen? In the name of Freddie Mercury, what kind of sense does this make? See this is where tolerance goes wrong – we start to tolerate everything in the name of open-mindedness even when it’s really looking at it the wrong way.

When most people read this headline, they automatically assume this guy has to be gay (he is). That’s the crux of the situation and why this “statement” is a failed chance to really make a point.

The young man feels feminine and has every right to live his life as a gay man. He also has every right to be comfortable doing it but when you want to challenge gender roles, this is NOT the way to do it. I'm not surprised he was going to win, especially if he got enough girls at the school to support him. We all know that girls tend to rally around gay dudes more than straight ones at times.

But here’s the problem. This is not a sign of progress for the gay rights movement. To me, it’s copping out to fulfilling the stereotype of how a gay man is perceived – more effeminate than masculine and not a real man. In my opinion, a gay man is still a man regardless of his tastes, likes or actions.

If the young man wanted to make a bigger statement about gender roles, he would have run as king. Challenge what being a prom king is about, challenge the idea that a man has to be macho and do it by being yourself. Had he won as prom king, it would have been a bigger victory because it shows that not every prom king fits that stereotypical jock/student leader who embodies “manhood.”

We call out lesbians who act tomboy-ish but regardless of how they act, they are still women. They may not ask a certain way that women do but that’s the beauty of challenging gender roles. Hillary Clinton, Michelle Obama, Lauren Conrad and Ellen DeGeneres are all women in their own unique way. Denzel Washington, Russell Crowe, Rupert Everett and my least favorite person Perez Hilton are all men in their unique way. It doesn’t matter if you are gay or straight, you are still male or female just not what society expects a male/female to be.

Some women like to say they can do anything just as good as a man. Well so be it but that doesn’t take away your womanhood. It adds a new layer. If a man likes watching soap operas or is in touch with his feelings, it doesn’t take away your manhood. Now a man might need to toughen up or woman needs to back down at some point but that’s another issue.

That, my friends, is true progress. Not settling for stereotypes but challenging them. This is my real problem with this story after the shock of it fades. The young man did not challenge gender roles by becoming prom queen, he succumbed to them. This is not progress, it’s just asking to do whatever you like without considering what would make a bigger impact – not just shock people.

(By the way, did anybody ask what the prom king thought? - Just asking?)


  1. Yes! I whole-heartedly agree.

    It frustrated me immensely to see this happen. Like you said, it wasn't progress, but a gimmick.

    (By the way, what did the the other [female] queen candidates think of this?)

  2. That's the problem with tolerance - do anything you want without considering the ripple effects or much thought behind it. It makes noble endeavors like this lose their bite.