Today's Evil Beet Gossip

Ellen DeGeneres Gives Scholarship to Small Town Teen Whose Prom was Cancelled in Homophobic Fracas

For those of you in other countries who don’t know what a prom is, perhaps a little explaining is in order.

Prom is a formal dance that you attend at the end of your senior (and sometimes junior) year in high school. For many American girls,  it’s one of two times in their life that they’ll get to wear formal attire (the other being their wedding) so it’s a pretty big deal. A lot of time and money is spent figuring out what to wear, making appointments to get your hair and makeup done, booking a limo, finding a date, and making reservations at a fancy restaurant. For most high school students, it’s one of those seminal (pun intended) coming of age rituals.

So, when Mississippi teen Constance McMillen’s prom was cancelled because she planned to wear a tuxedo and take another girl as her date, believe me when I say it was a big freakin deal. The school board in this bassackward district has a ban on bringing same sex dates to the prom, and apparently also forbids women to wear pants because they didn’t just deny McMillan’s request to bring a female date, they also told her should couldn’t wear a tuxedo.

The school board says that it cancelled the prom because the controversy surrounding the situation was distracting McMillen’s fellow students from their education. I choked a little bit on that massive turd of bullshit when I wrote it; did you choke a little when you read it?

In response to the cancellation, parents of other students organized a private prom at a furniture mart in nearby Tupleo. The prom is “invitation only”, and of course, Constance hasn’t been invited. In one discussion on an internet forum, a poster who identified himself as a junior from the high school in question stated that “Constance and her gay-activist friends will not be attending [the private dance]. They can go have their own prom because we certainly do not want any of them there.”

At the center of this massive shit storm of stupidity and homophobia is a normal, 18 year old girl. Although it appears that many of her peers and the residents of her hometown aren’t supporting her, the national opinion is much more divided, with many people, like talk show host Ellen DeGeneres, expressing their concern for her situation and admiration for her courage in standing up to the school district. Ellen invited McMillen to be a guest on her show, where she presented her with a $30,000 scholarship and offered her a summer internship in New York.

Several organizations have offered to provide an alternative prom for the students in the district. But McMillen is fighting for the legitimacy of being able to attend the real prom, sanctioned by the high school, adding, “I just want to go and be able to be myself, go to the prom that I was supposed to have since I’ve never known what prom was.”

Maybe it’s because I’m on the rag today, but this story actually brought me to tears. I don’t type that easily because I like to pretend I’m a hardass who never cries about anything. I pull my hoodie around my face if I ever bawl at a sad movie and punch anyone who says anything about the water on my cheeks. But this literally made me cry.

When I went to prom, I took a last minute date, bought a budget dress from T.J. Maxx, and got my sister to do my hair and makeup for me. The school district wasn’t involved in picking out my outfit or approving my date, and it would have been some insane, 1984 “big brother” bullshit if they had tried. But then, I’m straight, and my date was a boy.

It’s just so damn frustrating. She’s just a girl who wants to go her prom;  to wear an outfit she picked out after hours of agonizing and trying on different things. A girl who wants take that date that she finally worked up the nerve to ask. A girl who wants to slow dance awkwardly while she figures out exactly where she can rest her hands without offending her date or looking too clumsy.

Prom is a collection of annoying, awkward, hilarious, exciting experiences that comprise a ubiquitous  rite of passage for every American teenager. She has a right to make those memories- as do all the the other students in her class– and it saddens me greatly that because of the intractable self-righteousness of a school board who seems to have forgotten, or chosen to ignore, every American’s right to liberty, they won’t get to have those experiences or make those memories.

47 CommentsLeave a comment

  • Well whoopee or not.. more important things are threatening and worrying the world right now., rite of teen passage to their prom? I think a lot of much more deserving people don’t finish their education or attend because of many of life’s difficulties.. making a choice sexuality statement isn’t one of them..

      • This is not about something as superficial as prom. It’s about a girl being denied a right just for being gay. A right every single one of her friends have, but she doesn’t because she’s in love with a girl. Does that seem fair?

      • Big picture is right!!! I think the school just knew how bad her fat ass would look in a tux and wanted to save her the grief 20 years from now when she looked back at the photo.

    • Please think before opening your mouth – you’ll look much less stupid in the long run.

      This girl is absolutely deserving of the money and generosity Ellen is extending towards her. You may not understand this because you apparently have lived a very sheltered life (judging by your ignorant comments) but this girl will not only have to live this down for the rest of high school, but for several years to come. Once you stop reading the article and forget about it it’s over to you, but this poor child has to wake up every morning and face this sort of discrimination. This may affect her chances of getting into college, has certainly put her own safety in danger, and has probably damaged her self-esteem in waysyou can’t even begin to imagine. While money won’t cure all of the issues surrounding Constance, having the resources to take care of herself will certainly help her get to where she should be, and where she deserves to be.

      Everyone has difficulties in life, you’re right. So cut the girl some slack about hers, because if you were in a situation where you were attacked like this, tons of people would have your back.

      • With all due respect, you’re absolutely full of it. That girl did absolutely nothing to earn $30,000 except be herself. I’ll expect my check from Ellen any day now… oh, wait, no, because that’s balls. And as for her “living this down”… it was her choice and her fight. Unless she’s actually retarded, she knew about whatever ridicule is on its way and continued on anyway.

      • yes, and thank god she did because this is a huge issue that has to be talked about and she just contributed to the discussion with her brave choice. and i bet ellen would never call you, you bitter hag.

      • Thank god she likes pink tacos? No. She brought attention to a retarded and archaic practice that is STILL practiced in half the country. Nobody gives a shit about the other schools that do the same thing, they care about this one because Ellen told them to.

        You can call me a bitter had as much as you’d like, but I’m not. I’m just realistic. This girl gets a free ride through college because she likes boobies, and that’s fucking ridiculous.

  • You go Kelly!!! That entire school board has their collective head up their ass. And “anonymous” is being a smack because of his/her own miserable life that they’re not emotionally intelligent enough to change.

  • Great for the girl. But Ellen additionally might have sponsored a new and really kick-ass prom in that town. Maybe perceptions would have changed even more.

    • You can’t buy tolerance and/or love. Sure, Ellen could come in & give a kick-ass prom and everyone would go and superficially seem accepting, but what would really change? Nothing.

      • I watched the video and Ellen said she WANTED to do that but Constance didn’t want that because she wants the right to go to her SCHOOL prom like everyone else.

        fair enough.

  • This brought me to tears too. I can’t believe that we still live in a world where gay people is discriminated like this. It annoys how in my country (Venezuela), most people my age are homophobic (I’m 17). Most of my friends actually are. I can’t understand it and homophobia is something I will never, never aprove.

    I want to make a change and I know it’s my generation’s responsability to do it. This girl is so brave and I hope she will always stand up for what she believes in.

    I will fight for equal rights for everyone, that’s something I’m sure as hell of, and I hope someday I will get to live in a world where gay marriage is allowed in every country and gay people are treated the same way that straight people in every little aspect.

  • I was greatly saddened by this sweet girl’s plight but unfortunately not surprised. I grew up in the south and attended a private school where not only would homosexuality be completely scandalous but we weren’t even allowed to have a prom because “dancing is a sin”. How ridiculous right?! Well this was in the early 90s so you can see evolution has certainly not occurred in this part of the country. My sincerest hope is that through the actions of this brave girl some positive progress will be made in enlightening some heretofore closed minds. It scares me to think of all these kids growing up in households where intolerance of anything outside their “normal” constructs is acceptable behavior because the cycle just perpetuates ad nauseum. We need more brave kids like this one to stand up and say no, we’re not going to make the same mistakes as our parents; we are going to accept ALL human beings and treat them as such.

    • “We need more brave kids like this one to stand up and say no, we’re not going to make the same mistakes as our parents; we are going to accept ALL human beings and treat them as such.”

      I agree 100%.

    • I’ve already responded to one idiot today, so I’ll ignore Mercy’s comment above and respond to yours instead, because it’s another nice one.

      Agreed with all of it, 110%.

      • Wait…WHAT?! Are you telling me the term people have used forever in a hyperbolic, non-literal sense to mean “above and beyond the possible” is, in fact, impossible? SHUT THE FRONT DOOR.

  • In Montgomery County, Georgia, there are 2 proms-a whites only prom and a black prom, where white people are welcome,but few attend. I watch a documentary about it and I could not believe that this level if discrimination still exists in America.
    The excuses that the parents came up with when trying to defend their “whites only” rule was sickening. I think parts of this country are in the Dark Ages.
    Personally, I think prom should just be a big party with fancy clothing of your choice, dates are optional, and this would make it a heck of a lot less stressful for a lot of teens-the dateless, the same sex couples, the girls who hate to wear dresses. A lot more people would attend if it wasn’t predicated on finding a date.

  • My prom date in 1998 was another girl, and we had a blast. She was one of my closest friends, and we both wore dresses, and did not go as lovers. But it sickens me to think that in another city/county/school district we might have been forbidden to go with each other because neither of us had a penis.

    We chose to go together because neither of us knew of a boy worthy of us! That, and tickets were only sold in pairs (ridiculous, truly). But this girl makes me proud that she stood up for herself, and I think Ellen is such an incredible person and advocate for what she’s done here.

  • We have prom in Australia, only we call it a ‘formal’. We have one at the end of the 10th grade, and then a really big one at the end of 12th grade. Girls spend hundreds, even thousands of dollars on dresses, hair, makeup, shoes etc etc.

    We had a similar situation at a Catholic school (public schools aren’t allowed to discriminate based on sexual preference) a few years ago, where a boy wasn’t allowed to bring his boyfriend. At my school (a public school), we had two same-sex couples at our year 12 formal. I can’t recall any drama over it.

  • I don’t see why she couldn’t have just worn a dress. I mean really, you’re a girl, wear a fucking dress to prom.

    • its her choice, not yours. it´s like you having an opinion about what i order for dinner… exactly. live your own life and dont judge others.

    • That is a pretty silly perspective. Also, her arbitrarily limited options in dates was also an issue. A bigger issue, really.

    • She doesn’t have to wear a dress because she doesn’t want to. Live your life and let others live their lives. I’m a girl and I love wearing dresses, she’s a girl and she can’t stand wearing dresses.. it’s all okay. It should be HER choice to wear a dress or not, to bring a girl as her date or a boy.

      • Totes agree! Like if i WANT to wear a bikini to a funeral, goddammit I can. LET ME LIVE MY LIFE. No one should have to force me to wear something I don’t feel comforable in. Fuck dress codes.

  • I love how when a gay persons rights are violated everyone gets into an uproar (which they should, by the way), but whenever a bunch of transvestites in SanFran disrupt a church service, or a bunch of cock suckers start throwing blood on people in a church the “lets all love each other, and accept each other” philosophy goes right out the fucking window. Each side is only going to start accepting the other when BOTH SIDES start practicing what they preach. What Ellen did will only help one person (if that). Within the next month or so we are all going to hear another story about some groups intolerance and we will be right back to square one.

  • For me it was only detention for attending a dance with a girl…..bravo my dear one. We don’t know really know when we are brave. We only know what we know.

  • I have lived in the South for my entire life, and it seems that I avoided that sort of nonsense in high school as well as avoiding a Southern accent. My high school was a magnet school in a city, and we had a large number of openly gay students. On National Day of Silence, more students wear the rainbow ribbons than not.

    Sometimes I forget that everyone’s high school was not like mine.

    There were same-sex couples at prom, and no one thought anything of it. I am so glad that Ellen is reaching out to this girl, because the absurdity of this girl’s situation needs to be highlighted. I hope that that community is embarrassed at their wretched behavior.

  • “He says, ‘I’m not letting a guy in with a dress on.'”

    “Because . . . what would happen?”

    Beautiful, Ellen.

  • I took girl to my school formal (what we call prom) and I even went to a school where a lot of the students were from religious sects that frown apon homosexuality and no one batted an eye. Though the girl wasn’t actually my date, just a friend I took with me, no one else apart from my friends knew that and still no one cared. I really feel for this girl that she can’t just be herself because of the ignorance of the people she is around.

  • My boyfriend and I wore matching tuxes to the prom in Mississippi in 1984. So did many of my classmates who were girls that took their best friends who were girls to the prom, because they did not have a male date. We all had a blast. It was no big deal. Why is it a big deal now?