If you remember back to springtime, that was when I first wrote about Constance McMillen, a Mississippi high school senior who garnered a bit of notoriety because she wanted to take her girlfriend top prom.
Oy, such a ruckus!
In fact, it caused such havoc in Mississippi, that the Itawamba County school district cancelled the prom outright, rather then allow a lesbian attend with the date of her choice. Then, of course, we learned that the town would throw a prom, and would invite Constance, and her girlfriend. Only trouble there was that the parents, and I use the word 'parents' loosely, staged a decoy prom for a handful of exchange students, and students with disabilities, and Constance McMillen. The other students attended a prom some 30 miles away.
This might break a lot of students. I mean, think back to your high school years. Could you have tried to fight like Constance did? Would you have even tried? I know that I wasn't even out in high school, so this never would have been an issue. But Constance has prevailed, while the rest of her bigoted schoolmates, and their parents, will forever be remembered as hateful liars and deceivers.
Constance was a guest on the Ellen Degeneres Show. DeGeneres declared Constance an inspiration to all of us and presented her with a check for a $30,000 college scholarship. The funds for that scholarship came from an anonymous donor who wanted to help throw Constance a prom. McMillen didn't want a special prom, so the money was redirected to a scholarship fund.
"I know I will continue to be an activist because through all of this, I have met a lot of people. I have heard a lot of horror stories so it's really made me realize how important it is to be an activist. Because, you hear some of these stories and you are like, 'how can you not be an activist?' You know, because some of them are really heartbreaking."
Constance was a Grand Marshall in the New York City Gay Pride Parade.
"I think it's really just because of the way I have been raised. I have always been raised to stand up for myself and I have always been raised to be proud of myself — so a combination of those. I really couldn't do anything else if I was going to be true to myself."Constance spoke at Mayor Michael Bloomberg's annual Pride Week BBQ.
"There is something special about everybody. So I think that you should embrace who you are because if everybody was the same, then the world would be very boring."
Constance counts among her admirers the President of the United States.
"I know it will change, it’s really just a matter of time because you can tell that my generation, they really don’t care so much about people being gay. You know they might be like, 'well I wouldn’t be gay because that’s wrong,' they might not think it’s OK, but they don’t really think so much about it when somebody else is gay. They just kind of go on with their life. I think that as the generations go by, there will be more and more tolerance because more people are coming out. And that’s a big thing. The more people that come out and the more cases that people hear about, the more that people will get to know gay people. Then I think that there will be more equality and eventually, simply equality."
Constance also appeared on The Wanda Sykes Show. Sykes surprised Constance with an invitation to the GLAAD Media Awards so she could present her with the Stephen F. Kolzak award.
So, while she may be just a girl, fresh from high school, Constance is well on her way to being a strong and vocal representative of the LGBT community. Perhaps the people of Itawamba County thought they could keep her down; perhaps the school district thought she'd simply follow along. But Constance McMillen won't follow, and she won't stay down.
If she's the future of the LGBT community, then it's a bright future indeed.