On Teens, Tuxedos, and Prom Dates
I remember the day I decided to be heterosexual so clearly. I think it was right around the same time I chose to have brown eyes and A-Positive blood. Oh, wait. That's right. I didn't choose to be heterosexual. Yet so many
I am going to tell you a story about my daughter, but it's OK: I got her permission. I have written before about my daughter "the muse" who helps me with my writing, but all of my daughters are spirited, strong women who will do the right thing not because of something written in a primeval book or the fear of punishment in the Afterworld. They choose to do what they believe is right even if they might face scorn and derision from others because, frankly, they just don't care what others think.
I was inspired to write this post after reading this appalling news story about girls being prohibited from wearing tuxedos to prom. I don't care if you're gay or straight, this is inherently stupid. Wasn't this boundary broken in 1930 by Marlena Dietrich? Or if she is a little too bi-curious for some tastes, how about pure-as-ivory-soap Doris Day in 1951's Lullaby of Broadway? The Rockettes have even been known to wear (half) a tuxedo in Radio City Music Hall. If this concept is so foreign, why are tuxedo dance costumes for girls so readily available?
So what gives? Simply put, homophobia. After the shocking 2011 case of the Mississippi school district choosing to cancel prom rather than allow a lesbian couple to attend ended with a $35,000 legal settlement, schools may have become reticent about banning gays and lesbians from school dances altogether. Instead, lesbians can attend the prom - as long as they don't look like lesbians. Is this how our society has elected to love and support its children?
The girl in the dress in the photo at left is my youngest daughter the night of her senior prom in 2006. She is not a lesbian, but her friend is. My daughter & her boyfriend had recently broken up, and she didn't want to spend her senior prom worried about impressing a date.
Her friend, the young lady in the tuxedo, had not gone to her own prom because her school wouldn't allow her to bring a girl as a date, so my daughter asked her to come to her prom.
I was, and still am, so incredibly proud of her. Don't they look adorable?
As this was seven years ago, I couldn't remember the details, so I "interviewed" her for this article.
Q: Did the school have any rules about same-sex couples at prom?
A: I don't think so, but I didn't pay attention.
Q: I know I didn't think of it, but did you ask if you could bring a girl as your date?
A: No, I just did it.
Q: Did they give you any grief when you got to the prom?
Q: What about the other students? When they saw your date was a girl, did they hassle you?
A: No, they laughed and they thought we were cute.
Q: Were you worried people would think you were a lesbian?
A: I didn't give a shit if they did.
That's right: She didn't give a shit. So why should we? And more importantly, why should schools give a shit about how girls dress for prom as long as it is formal attire?
In the words of M. H. McKee, "Wisdom is knowing the right path to take. Integrity is taking it." Maybe someday schools will start living by my daughter's example.