Prom has been an important rite of passage for public school teenagers since the beginning of the 20th century. Central to the event are the elections of Prom King and Prom Queen. This year, the prom court winners were Jeremiah Smith and Mason Crites, two openly gay seniors.
“They always announce prom king first, because nobody cares about prom king; it’s prom queen they care about,” Smith said. “[After they called my name], it was really loud all of a sudden, everyone was [cheering].”
Crites said that she initially hoped to compete for Prom King because she wanted to increase visibility for LGBT students.
“I really wanted to be Prom King, and I got many people to nominate me for Prom King, but [science teacher Cari Christopherson] thought that it wouldn’t be fair for a female to win Prom King, and after hearing that, I agreed and I was fine with it,” Crites said. “But I still really wanted to be Prom King.”
After Smith was presented the crown for Prom King and Crites was presented the tiara for Prom Queen, the pair did something unorthodox.
“We took our crowns off and we switched. Everyone went crazy,” Crites said. “It felt great to be a part of that. It felt great to be able to make a change in the school, and it just seems like a step in the right direction.”
Smith and Crites said that they were surprised by the reactions of their peers after winning.
“A lot of straight guys came up to me that I had never expected to congratulate me or even talk to me at all. They were like, ‘Congratulations, man,’ and [shook] my hand,” Smith said.
Crites said that she felt as though winning prom court marked a change for the school.
“After [winning prom court], people who I never thought had accepted me for who I am, after winning, came up to me and they were hugging me, saying ‘Congratulations, that was so amazing,’” Crites said. “I mean, people had tears in their eyes.”
The win, for Smith, sets Northwood apart from other rural high schools.
“I think it’s great that we were able to do that and didn’t think that we would get in trouble for it. I think it says that Northwood is a more open place for students. It’s more accepting here,” Smith said. “I know my situation could be a lot worse.”
Crites said she believed two gay students could not have won Prom Court in past years at Northwood.
“I’m extremely proud of Northwood. I never thought this would happen. I mean, just last semester, [I would walk] the halls getting called a faggot and a queer, and it boils my blood,” Crites said. “I am gay, and I am proud to be gay, and I’m terribly proud of Northwood for coming back and making this huge change.”