High School Crowns Same-Sex Homecoming Queens and Everybody Wins!
During the past four and a half years, I’ve gone from “Mom, I think I’m gay” to “Mom, I want you to meet my girlfriend”. During that time I have worked hard to become a more understanding and accepting parent by promoting equality through sharing our story. Not only have my eyes been opened to view life and love in a different way than before, but my heart has matured as well. I am proud to be my daughter’s mother and can honestly say I am thankful for who she is because she inspires me to be the best me I can be.
Recently, Greta Melendez and her girlfriend Lily Cohen were crowned homecoming queens at Calabasas High School in California. Melendez says that her journey to the crown was not an easy one - it started with hatred and bullying. In an interview with the TODAY show, Melendez shared that coming out cost her friends. Classrooms became silent when she walked in. Her peers made hand gestures, took pictures and even poured water on her. She says that at the time she thought there was something wrong with her because she was hated and ridiculed by people she didn’t even know. She was being bullied because she was gay. Now, attitudes have changed and Melendez says she and Cohen were surprised when they learned that they had been nominated as a same sex couple for the homecoming court. Winning was something Melendez never thought would happen.
There is a growing trend in our country to promote equality, diversity and acceptance. Anti-bullying programs within our country’s school systems are at an all-time high. There are zero tolerance programs being implemented along with programs to promote equality and acceptance in businesses and schools around the country. As president of her school’s Gay and Straight Alliance Club and vice president of the peer support group, Melendez said she worries about teens who are bullied but haven’t yet found self-acceptance. Strong role models like Melendez and Cohen are forging the way for the LGBTQ community to not only be heard but to be accepted.
Last month C.C. Winn High School in Texas became the first high school in Texas to name two homecoming queens instead of a king and queen. In this case one homecoming queen identified herself as a lesbian and the other described herself as straight, but they pursued the titles together as allies in an effort to support gay rights. I happen to think this is an awesome example of true human spirit, love and acceptance. Other schools across the country have crowned homecoming and prom queens and kings with Downs Syndrome. It appears that today’s generation is beginning to break through the diversity barriers and accept people for who to what they are. Having grown up in the 1970’s and early 80’s I found myself struggling at first with lifestyles that were different than my own. I took time to work overcome ideas that were engrained from my childhood and I was able to open my eyes and heart to the reality that there is a huge need for equality in our country. It took my own child to teach me that love is not gender specific, it’s not race specific, it’s not social class specific. Love is love.
I believe that fear is the driving force behind the ridicule, hatred and bullying of those in the LGBTQ community. What we need to begin to understand and accept is that there is nothing we (society) can do to change another person. The only person we can change is ourselves. We can choose to remain fearful and uninformed or we can open our minds and hearts to accept others for who they are as a person not who they choose to love. There will be girls crowned homecoming queen in high schools across the nation and whether they are accompanied by a male counterpart or female counterpart the honor is still the same. Being nominated and chosen by peers for homecoming is an honor no matter who you are. I applaud Melendez and Cohen for their confidence and willingness to bring light to the need for acceptance for everyone and wish them all the best!