Mississippi Goddam

Constance McMillen is an out lesbian high school senior living in Fulton, Mississippi. When the school heard that she wanted to bring her girlfriend to prom, their sensible and measured response was to cancel prom and encourage students to hold a private event (straight and closeted only). Constance’s presence, in a tuxedo, would be a “distraction”, according to the school administration.

Well, there’s a distraction at Itawamba Agricultural High School this year, but it’s not a girl in a tux. In the past week, Dan Savage has been all over this case, pushing 304,000 people to join a Facebook group supporting Constance and starting a letter-writing campaign to the school administrators. Now the ACLU has filed suit against the retrograde assholes running that school.

Savage caught up with Constance and it sounds like she’s doing OK:

It seems remarkable—at least from outside—that you have the support of your family.

If I didn’t have the support from my family that I have, my goodness, there’s no way, no way, I would be doing this. I’ve been out to them since eighth grade. And, you know, they don’t agree with it, but they’re going to love me regardless and they’re going to support me regardless. They’re not going to hate me or shun me. But personally they don’t believe in it.

Why not?

Because they’re Christians. They think that being Christian means they can’t say it’s okay. My grandmother doesn’t believe in it, I know that, but she supports me anyway. I don’t know how my daddy feels about religion.

Are you a Christian?

Yes, I am.

You can read the whole interview, as well as learn the email addresses of the administrators responsible, here. This is a case where the ACLU is not only protecting rights, but probably saving lives, since we lose so many conflicted gay teens to suicide every year.

Update: Here’s an album of lesbian prom pictures. I visited it and baby Jesus didn’t strike my computer dead, but YMMV. (via Sully)

99 replies
  1. 1

    Just freaking amazing. You’d think the parents would stand up and demand what’s right and no let a demagogue school administration…

    Oh, what am I saying!?!

  2. 2
    MattR says:

    Constance was also on the Wanda Sykes show this past weekend. She seemed like a nice young lady, though a bit like Lindsey Vonn on Colbert, Constance was a bit unsure how to respond to Wanda’s humor. At the end of the interview, Wanda asked her to be the presenter when Wanda is given an award at the GLAAD Media Awards next month.

  3. 3
    El Cid says:

    In other good news, a lot of businesspeople also stepped up, offering to host proms for the students for free. Some appreciation should go to them for their efforts as well, among the most famous being Sean Cummings who owns a hotel in New Orleans and offered to bus the students down and host for free.

  4. 4
    Catsy says:

    Stuff like this still blows my mind every time I hear about it. I think if my kid’s school tried to pull something like this on him–whether he was the gay student or not–my “measured” response would be to walk in and ask them what the fuck is wrong with them.

  5. 5
    General Egali Tarian Stuck says:

    In Mississippi’s defence, we do have a soshulist Kenyan negro squatting in the White House calling himself the US president for heavens sake. Somebody has to pay for that.

  6. 6
    Elizabelle says:

    I love your headline, and many (if not most) of BJ headlines.

    If only we could all move to Paris, and make memorable music …

  7. 7
    Redshift says:

    Constance’s presence, in a tuxedo, would be a “distraction”, according to the school administration.

    Even if this were true, it’s such a ludicrous argument as to make their bigotry obvious. I mean, a high school prom is such a solemn and organized activity that it couldn’t possibly go forward with a “distraction,” right?

    This one deserves the Assholes tag +7.

  8. 8
    mistermix says:

    @Elizabelle: And fire a gun at a record company executive who pissed us off. It would be wonderful. (I love Nina Simone, btw, so expect more Nina-inspired titles.)

    @Redshift: I see the administrators’ point: it would distract from the date rape, drunkness and drug use.

  9. 9
    Quaker in a Basement says:

    Aw, Redshift said what I was gonna say, but said it better and firster.

  10. 10
    Leelee for Obama says:

    I admire this young lady more than I can say. She comes off as sharp and determined, and that’s never to be ignored, especially when she’s right. I dont’ know what the futrue holds for her, but I hope it’s terrific, she deserves it.

    On another high note, I got a job. It’s a counter/bakery spot at a local Panera, but it’s the kind of thing I love to do and there’s all kinds of chances to move up in the organization, which would be totally awesome. I go for orientation on Thursday. I decided to go for this kind of thing because I just don’t see myself in Health Care just now. It’s too close to the years with Mom, and I need to be out among happy, healthy people. Besides, who could gripe over free coffee and Classical music at work, KWIM?

  11. 11
    Hiram Taine says:

    The American Humanist Association has a $20,000 donation to hold a prom for the school in lieu of the canceled “official” one..

  12. 12
    MikeJ says:

    @mistermix: Nobody should be allowed to shoot at record company executives unless they’re pretty sure that they’ll hit. Otherwise you just spook them and drive them to cover.

  13. 13
    Ed in NJ says:

    I listen to Dan Savage’s podcast every week. I almost always agree with his advice despite the fact that I’m a straight, married, middle-aged guy. He’s pretty funny, too. I’m glad to see he’s championing this cause and hope he shines a bright light on the bigotry.

    And I like the new front page guy, too. Belated welcome mistermix.

  14. 14
    gwangung says:

    @MikeJ: Win.

  15. 15
    kay says:

    @Leelee for Obama:

    I am so glad to hear that you got a job. Good luck at orientation.

  16. 16
    mcc says:

    Constance’s presence, in a tuxedo, would be a “distraction”, according to the school administration.

    Whereas canceling the school prom and making the national news will just kind of slide by peacefully.

  17. 17
    Felonius Wench says:

    Cases like this are one of the many reasons I joined the ACLU three months ago. I may not agree with some of the cases they take on, but damn, I’m glad they are in business.

  18. 18
    Keith G says:

    I have always been pissed off when the education reform crowd tells us that teachers are the problem.

    Here is yet another example of the stupidity, short-sightedness, and malevolence of so many of those who run our schools. Last week it was computer-cam, a while ago middle schools girls get strip searched, and then there are my neighbors here in Texas.

    The treatment of this brave young woman is just another sign of the poor quality of leadership in so many of our school districts.

  19. 19
    Makewi says:

    When the school heard that she wanted to bring her girlfriend to prom, their sensible and measured response was to cancel prom and encourage students to hold a private event (straight and closeted only).

    Is this accurate? It seems to be missing a component.

  20. 20

    Just when I start feeling hopeful thanks to Spring, this kind of thing, and the Texas text book stupidity really brings down my ability to be hopeful about ANYTHING in this country. Sigh.

  21. 21
    General Egali Tarian Stuck says:

    @Makewi: They were too cowardly to keep the prom and ban someone due to sexual orientation, so they split the baby and called off the tax payer funded event, ie school prom likely to keep from getting sued, and just punted the thing to the private sector, so to speak.

  22. 22
    mistermix says:

    @Makewi: What, straight, closeted and asexual? Is that the missing component you were looking for?

    @Ed in NJ: I listen to the podcast every week, too, and heard this on this week’s show.

  23. 23
    Makewi says:

    @General Egali Tarian Stuck:

    They were sued first Which is why they canceled the prom. That part is left out here.

    FRT, I disagree with the schools initial decision to not allow the SS couple to attend.

  24. 24
    Makewi says:

    @mistermix:

    Are you flirting with me?

  25. 25
    DougJ says:

    Good title, tho my least favorite Nina Simone song.

  26. 26
    Roger Moore says:

    This should come as a surprise to nobody. The people doing this are exactly the same kind of people who believe that the answer to racial desegregation orders is to shut down government services. They only want government if it’s allowed to discriminate against people they hate.

  27. 27
    Leelee for Obama says:

    @kay: Thanks, kay. I’m really happy about it. This is one of my favorite places, so it’s kind of like going home! One of the best parts is, I’ll rarely have to apologize for food problems, their stuff is great. Just a matter of getting back in the swing!

  28. 28
    Midnight Marauder says:

    @Makewi:

    When the school heard that she wanted to bring her girlfriend to prom, their sensible and measured response was to cancel prom and encourage students to hold a private event (straight and closeted only).

    Is this accurate? It seems to be missing a component.

    Oh, this should be rich.

    Go on, Makewank. Please tell us what the missing component might be. Or, even better, how these real events that happened to real people are not possibly “accurate.”

  29. 29
    Comrade Mary says:

    @Makewi: Read the article again.

    School officials told McMillen last month that she could not bring her sophomore girlfriend to the prom and also told her she could not wear a tuxedo. The school then circulated a memo that prohibited same-sex dates.
    __
    ACLU of Mississippi issued a letter demanding the district change its policy. The letter gave it until Wednesday to decide on a course of action.

    The sequence was:

    1) Constance asked to go to prom with her girlfriend.
    2) School said no and announced this was their policy.
    3) ACLU stepped in and petitioned on her behalf.
    4) Chickenshit school cancelled prom.

    There was no lawsuit out of the blue. She made a reasonable request, one that other schools have honoured in similar cases, but they were too cowardly to agree to it.

  30. 30
    Max says:

    @Leelee for Obama: Congrats! I love Panera. In fact, we’re ordering a bunch of food from them for a big day-long meeting I am hosting tomorrow.

  31. 31
    YellowJournalism says:

    Wow. Check out this classic piece of trolling in the USA Today comments:

    These same sex relationships are what most of the society and Christians have a problem with and can hardly tolerate. I mean, the people can handle a man acting effeminate and a woman acting manly, but when you start seeing them kissing in public mouth to mouth, having sex, etc. then the story changes. It is like this homosexual behavior is being pushed to us by the gays and lesbians and on TV. You see same-sex couples kissing on TV everyday by straight actors. It is like PUSH marketing and many people are buying it and having LHB. I mean if that student girl is a real lesbian, then she should get herself ready for a sex-change operation. She does not even look or dress like a male. To distinguish the true gays and lesbians, they should have a sex-change operation paid for by the ACLU then they can officially be the other sex and would not have any more problems of having same sex relationships.

    Sadly, most of that post is similarly spewed by TV and radio pundits supporting discrimination against gays and lesbians.

  32. 32
    Midnight Marauder says:

    @Comrade Mary:

    Read the article. again.

    Don’t forget who you’re dealing with here. The benefit of the doubt is for the intellectually honest.

  33. 33
    Nellcote says:

    @Makewi:

    They were sued first Which is why they canceled the prom.

    link?

  34. 34
    Cat Lady says:

    @Leelee for Obama:

    Congratulations Leelee! I love love love Panera Bread.

  35. 35
    The Moar You Know says:

    If this young lady is smart enough to get the fuck out of Mississippi, and I believe that she is, she’ll have the ultimate revenge by having a far better life than any of the two-bit nickel-dick jackoffs that chose to use her and her girlfriend as pawns in their game of “beat the faggots”.

    Meanwhile, all the Christofascists who chose to make an example out of her will be stuck, living out their small-town lives in Loserville, Mississippi. And that’s a fate they’ve richly earned.

  36. 36
    General Egali Tarian Stuck says:

    @Makewi:

    They were sued first Which is why they canceled the prom. That part is left out here.

    Doesn’t much matter when they were sued, still a chickenshit maneuver by school officials.

  37. 37
    Leelee for Obama says:

    @YellowJournalism: Hard to understand how these troglodytes keep breathing. Homosexuality and trans-sexuality are two completely different phenomena, and if they knew anything at all about it, they’d know that. Besides, having watched “Her Name was Steven” on Saturday, the whole operation thing is amazingly difficult for people who truly feel their body doesn’t match their spirit. Why should someone who isn’t trans-sexual go through that. Homosexuals are attracted to same-sex partners, they aren’t one gender longing to be the other.

    Oh, right, these nitwits don’t do nuance, do they?

  38. 38
    kay says:

    @Leelee for Obama:

    I think you’re going to be running the joint in six months, Leelee.

  39. 39
    Roger Moore says:

    @Makewi:

    They were sued first

    No, they were not sued first. First, the school told Miss McMillan couldn’t wear a tux and bring her female date, and circulated a memo stating the same. Then, McMillan went to the ACLU, and the ACLU sent a letter demanding that the school change its policy by a specified date. When the ACLU’s deadline rolled around, the school announced that it was canceling the Prom. Only then did the ACLU sue.

  40. 40
    Leelee for Obama says:

    @Max: @Cat Lady:

    Thanks guys! I love it too, that’s the really fun part of all this!

  41. 41
    Leelee for Obama says:

    @kay: From your mouth, as the saying goes!

  42. 42
    Makewi says:

    @Comrade Mary:

    I misstated. There was no initial lawsuit, just a letter from the ACLU. Apologies for the mistake.

  43. 43
    YellowJournalism says:

    @Leelee for Obama: Nope, it’s all the same to them.

    I watched the girl’s CBS interview and she brought up something that got to me was that someone told her that she ruined that person’s senior year. If your entire senior year comes down to one overpriced, overblown dance, then you had a really shitty senior year.

    I didn’t go to my senior prom. A friend of mine and I both wanted to ask the same guy, so we decided to ditch the prom instead and go shopping and to the movies out of town that day. We ended up at a restaurant where some people from our high school came to eat their pre-prom dinner. The girls were looking uncomfortable munching on salads in their too-tight dresses while the guys were wolfing down burgers in their ill-fitting tuxes. My friend and I were not sorry we didn’t go.

    My sister was a prom junkie who still has a closet full of dresses from her high school dances. Those, and a bunch of pictures with her nasty-ass ex-boyfriend are all she has to show for the thousands of dollars she plunked down for dances that on average weren’t that fun, according to her. I think proms used to be about dressing up and having a really great time with your friends and high school sweetheart, but lately it’s gotten to be almost as overblown as a wedding with all the hummer limos, expensive meals, and outrageous hotel afterparties.

  44. 44
    perfectly cromulent says:

    I recently moved from the northeast to Dallas. The number of obviously gay but still closeted gay guys here is off the charts. I knew some folks like that in high school, but they were all out by college. Here, at 25 they all have girlfriends and talk about how much we strong men like breasts and stuff like that. It’s really depressing that the stigma against gay people, especially gay men, in the south is still so strong. And Dallas is pretty progressive relative to the rest of the south (for instance, we actually have a gay neighborhood).

  45. 45
    freelancer says:

    @Makewi:

    @mistermix:
    Are you flirting with me?

    Go for it, dude.

    /snicker

  46. 46
    kay says:

    I think the school district should reconsider.

    Schools get enormous deference on rule-making, but there’s no rational reason this would be any sort of a threat to order or safety, and it’s not curriculum-based, so they won’t have that nearly endlessly flexible rationale. Proms aren’t education.

    It looks just like the race-based exclusions. I mean, JUST like that. This is closing the town swimming pool when you get the integration order, rather than letting everybody in.

  47. 47
    freelancer says:

    @kay:

    This is closing the town swimming pool when you get the integration order, rather than letting everybody in.

    Or denying everyone spousal benefits because you now have to legally recognize same-sex marriages.

  48. 48
    Tax Analyst says:

    @Leelee for Obama:

    On another high note, I got a job.

    Congrats!

    It seems of late a lot of BJuicer’s have risen off the unemployment skids and into positions of gainful employ. Three Cheers to that (at least).

  49. 49
    The Main Gauche of Mild Reason says:

    @Leelee for Obama:

    Homosexuality and trans-sexuality are two completely different phenomena

    I think you bring up an interesting point; a significant amount of discomfort with homosexuals is a result of this confusion between homo/trans/butch/femme lesbians/etc. In my experience, people seem to be most uncomfortable with/intolerant toward butch lesbians/effeminate gay men, and much less uncomfortable with men and women that act typical gender norms, even if they’re engaged in PDA with a member of the same sex.

    As an experiment, I showed my Mom (who’s pretty middle of the road politically and generally in favor of gay rights, but not totally pro-gay) a link to those collages of lesbian prom pictures that have been floating around in response to this. She thought the pictures in the girls together in dresses were adorable, but admitted the ones with one of the girls in a tux made her uncomfortable.

    I had to admit to her that I didn’t actually understand the psychology around it, so I’m going to ask if there’s anyone better informed here: is it necessarily the case that there’s a clear-cut distinction between gay and trans? I mean, there are definitely distinct examples of each, but I feel like there are individuals where the categories seem to overlap, and I don’t know if it’s a result of rejecting social expectations in general, or a genuine sex identity mismatch, or just a result of the fact that because there isn’t a simple dichotomy between gay and straight there will be lesbian women that nonetheless are attracted to masculine features? I think this lack of understanding underlies a lot of the discomfort.

  50. 50

    I remember a bunch of girls going to prom together as friends becuase none of them had dates. They seemed to have a good time. I also remember a girl wearing a tux with a miniskirt.

    None of the above were gay as far as I could tell, but it wasn’t much different that what this young woman wanted. There was wasn’t any disruption that I can remember.

  51. 51
    Comrade Dread says:

    Constance’s presence, in a tuxedo, would be a “distraction”, according to the school administration.

    I would think a lot of high school boys would be up for having lesbians around.

    Wait. What?

    What do you mean lesbians don’t automatically start making out everywhere they go?

    Next you’ll tell me that women in sororities don’t have nightly topless pillow fights.

  52. 52
    mandarama says:

    I know it’s not much consolation, but I’m happy that this young lady can be out and that this has become a controversy that will help push for her rights. I grew up in MS, and when I was her age, no way in hell would anyone have admitted they were gay, much less challenged their local school board or administration. We actually didn’t have dancing allowed at our proms until 1989–a Baptist school board, plus the fear of interracial mingling, kept it to a “banquet.” There was “voluntary” segregation in the school cafeteria. My good friend who was gay dated me and lots of other girls to keep his cover, and he still got called “faggot” all the time.

    I do see that a lot of the same boys who spoke to him like this then are now middle-aged guys who are friends with him on FB–where he’s proudly out–and they’re super kind and friendly to him now. I think there’s a lot of guilt they’re trying to expunge.

    We’ll drag MS into this century, even if it’s kicking and screaming. It took most of the 20th to get out of the 19th there.

  53. 53
    Leelee for Obama says:

    @kay: That’s exactly what it is. Which is why I wish the Moses Generation Civil Rights people would get more involved in LGBT issues. Loving v. Virginia for instance is on point re same-sex marriage, to my way of thinking. I guess I’m just too Eugene Debs at heart:

    “As long as there is a lower class, I am of it.
    As long as there is a criminal element, I am of it.
    As long as there is a soul in prison, I am not free.”

    The rights of one class are the rights of every class. If we stop fighting for the newly discriminated against, Power begins to take the fought-for rights back. It’s why they always work to wedge us apart.

    Everything you need to know about class issues you can learn watching “A Bug’s Life”. If all the ants join arms, the grasshoppers don’t stand a fucking chance.

  54. 54
    mandarama says:

    Leelee, congrats on your new job! I love Panera. I practically live there when I’m grading stacks of essays. Good luck!

  55. 55
    Leelee for Obama says:

    @Tax Analyst: @mandarama:

    Thanks! I feel so stoked about this, it’s like Spring came really early!

  56. 56
    Makewi says:

    It looks just like the race-based exclusions. I mean, JUST like that. This is closing the town swimming pool when you get the integration order, rather than letting everybody in.

    Yes to the first part, and not quite to the second. The ACLU doesn’t have the power to issue an integration order, just threaten to sue in hopes of getting something similar to the order.

    In any case, your first point has me thinking that the girls would have been better off forcing the school to deny them entry, while being filmed, thereby borrowing from the tactic used during King’s work on showing the nastiness of those exclusions. You have to show the people what it means, and unfortunately that means you have to be willing to suffer the discrimination to do it.

    Before you ask, they shouldn’t have to, but since they do…

  57. 57
    Gwangung says:

    I do see that a lot of the same boys who spoke to him like this then are now middle-aged guys who are friends with him on FB—where he’s proudly out—and they’re super kind and friendly to him now. I think there’s a lot of guilt they’re trying to expunge.

    Guilt or not, they’re still miles better than the school board.

  58. 58
    ryan says:

    Nice Hidden Cameras reference.

  59. 59
    Tax Analyst says:

    rewriting comment.

  60. 60
    Tax Analyst says:

    To distinguish the true gays and lesbians, they should have a sex-change operation paid for by the ACLU then they can officially be the other sex and would not have any more problems of having same sex relationships

    Perhaps they should just sew Pink Triangles onto their clothing. That worked quite well once before.

  61. 61
    colleeniem says:

    @Leelee for Obama: Yaaay! I’m so happy for you!
    Have an asiago cheese bagel w/tomato cream cheese for me (I will have one for you in solidarity when I have lost a few pounds :). Love Panera Bread.

  62. 62
    AnneS says:

    @Leelee for Obama:

    Congratulations on the job! It sounds like a wonderful situation.

  63. 63
    kay says:

    @Leelee for Obama:

    You know I’m not deep or “big picture’, Leelee. We’ve been over that :)

    Seriously, though, I think it’s a good case, specifically. I think equality advocates have been making the broad moral argument you are making (which I agree with) and this just sets it right up for them.

    There’s just no rational reason to exclude these people. The anti-integration people claimed they were worried about rioting or violence. That excuse had MORE validity than this. There isn’t going to be anything but a lot of chit chat when she enters with her date, and even that probably ends in an hour. It’s just not an order or safety threat.

  64. 64
    mai naem says:

    I saw the girl on a show(Rachel Maddow?) and I would not be surprised if this ends up being a very good learning experience for her and at a very young age. She’s probably going to have opportunities come her way because of this issue. There is a silver lining to this for her.

  65. 65
    Joey Maloney says:

    @mcc: Yeah, that’s where the stupid really kicks in. Even in fucking Itawamba County they have the internet. How the school district thought they could do this and NOT have it break national…

  66. 66
    BethanyAnne says:

    @The Main Gauche of Mild Reason: Heyo. It’s … complicated. :) I’m trans, so I figured I’d give answering you a shot. The closest I can get to summing this up in a comment is to say that the boxes we put folk into simply aren’t real. Humans don’t do boxes, we do gradients. Folk aren’t “tall” or “short”, they are “taller than” and “shorter than”. That said, there are points on the gradient where you are clearly in the “tall” or “gay” or “trans” box, and you just have to deal with that.

    It seems to me that most humans believe in the boxes tho. We are pattern-seeking machines. We see patterns and simplify and categorize as a matter of course. We look for the “Other” constantly. We believe in our boxes. We believe in our gender stereotypes. Folk that make it clear that those are arbitrary distinctions are attacked. And if you have been able to trust that “box” for years, you might really freak out.

    So, when you have gone your entire life believing that men should have status and act to protect it, and then you see a man being effeminate it messes with your head. He’s making it clear that your assumptions about gender and power are wrong.

    And gender identity and sexuality are different variables. So, there are cisgendered folk who are gay, and transgendered folk who are straight. And there are folk who are attracted to sameness or difference; if they transition, they switch which gender they are attracted to. It’s a wide-open field of experience, but we are only comfortable believing in our boxes, I think.

    Others will have much more to say, I guess. Hope I’ve answered your question somewhat. Cerebrus would have a great perspective if she notices this thread. Them’s my 2 cents. :)
    Bethany

  67. 67
    The Main Gauche of Mild Reason says:

    @BethanyAnne:
    That’s about what I was expecting, that there wasn’t any clear answer, like most things about humans. I suppose a better way of saying it is, although they’re distinct phenomena, they can overlap; and just because they overlap doesn’t mean they’re the same thing.

  68. 68
    AnneS says:

    @Leelee for Obama:

    Leelee, not to pry, but as a former caregiver for both my parents (Mom passed away 12/24/03, Dad is now in assisted living) I wish you all the best in your new career.

  69. 69
    giltay says:

    I’m quite mystified. Two girls went together to my prom, 12 years ago, and there wasn’t any comment at all. (Hey, it was the nineties, that’s practically the future.) Arguably, Toronto is not Mississippi, but …

  70. 70
    Leelee for Obama says:

    @colleeniem:Thanks, and will have that bagel on my first shift and think of you!

    @AnneS:
    Thanks for the good wishes. And my journey with my Mom was all over this blog for quite awhile, so you’re not prying. You know from experience I’m sure that you could do that job in the real world, but it’s maybe only something we should do for love.

  71. 71
    Leelee for Obama says:

    Perhaps they should just sew Pink Triangles onto their clothing. That worked quite well once before.

    Pure genius! Absolutely golden.

  72. 72
    BethanyAnne says:

    @The Main Gauche of Mild Reason: Hey, that’s a better way of saying it :) If you end up curious about this, and are book-type person, I’d highly recommend 2 books. “The Riddle of Gender” by Deborah Rudacille, and “Whipping Girl” by Julia Serano.

  73. 73
    El Cid says:

    @giltay:

    Arguably, Toronto is not Mississippi, but …

    Mississippi often manages to be waaaay more than 15 years behind other conservative U.S. states, not to mention large cosmopolitan cities.

  74. 74
    Bubblegum Tate says:

    @Comrade Dread:

    Next you’ll tell me that women in sororities don’t have nightly topless pillow fights.

    How naive! Of course they don’t have nightly topless pillow fights! That’s every other night. On the off nights, they practice kissing with each other.

  75. 75
    PurpleGirl says:

    @Leelee for Obama: Sounds good. Congratulations and best wishes.

  76. 76
    Leelee for Obama says:

    @PurpleGirl: Thanks! It feels like my birthday!!!

  77. 77
    Help Me Rhonda says:

    @Leelee for Obama:
    Mazel tov on your new job! I was laid off about a year ago and am still looking. I know it will happen, but some days I have to keep telling myself that I won’t be unemployed forever. I’ve been doing some sporadic and very part-time contract work for a law firm since November, so I keep thinking the log jam may starting to get some movement.

    And seeing the prom pictures surely warmed my hear today!

  78. 78
    Help Me Rhonda says:

    @Leelee for Obama:
    Mazel tov on your new job! I was laid off about a year ago and am still looking. I know it will happen, but some days I have to keep telling myself that I won’t be unemployed forever. I’ve been doing some sporadic and very part-time contract work for a law firm since November, so I keep thinking the log jam may starting to get some movement.

    And seeing the prom pictures surely warmed my heart today!

  79. 79
    Leelee for Obama says:

    @kay: When we arrive at the place in history where every person in this country is free and able to be themselves and able to move in the world with true equality, then the Constitution will have done it’s job. The fear of the few for others having what was once only for the privileged class is what makes it impossible to stop advocating for what the Constitution and the Declaration made law. We were born out of the desire to make a country that didn’t see class( or, eventually gender, color, sexual orientation) as limiting opportunity. Those that fight against founding principles must be fought against. They’re screwing up the whole revolution.

  80. 80
    Leelee for Obama says:

    @Help Me Rhonda: Thanks, and yeah, I think things are beginning to loosen up a bit. Hope you find something good soon. It’s frustrating knowing you’re good at something and still there’s nothing happening.

  81. 81
    burnspbesq says:

    @Felonius Wench:

    As a 35-year ACLU member (since high school), welcome to the coolest club on campus.

    If I agreed with everything they do, that would worry me.

    And as the parent of an out high school sophomore, let me just say that what this school board has done is inexcusable, incomprehensible, un-Christian … you get the idea. There are days when hate the sin, love the sinner is not easy.

  82. 82
    Roger Moore says:

    @BethanyAnne:

    Humans don’t do boxes, we do gradients.

    I’m not sure if I’d go that far. I think that there are a lot of areas where there are strongly modal distributions, with only a small minority of people between the extremes. For example, most people are either male or female, with only a small number who are physically or mentally somewhere in the middle. Similarly, most people are straight.
    The problem is that we want to box people in by clustering together a whole range of characteristics and insisting that we follow all of them. So we define what a man is supposed to be like based not just on his genitals, but also on who he’s attracted to, what kind of clothes he wants to wear, how assertive he is, and so on. By the time you add in 15 or 20 different ideal characteristics, you discover that very few people will fit in the box without some prodding on one characteristic or another. IOW, biological gender is mostly an either/or proposition, with very few people in the middle, but gender roles are largely a construct enforced by conditioning and social pressure.

  83. 83
    drkrick says:

    Arguably, Toronto is not Mississippi, but …

    It’s early, but a definite candidate for Understatement of the Century.

  84. 84
    CMcD says:

    So, I guess I’m the only one that slightly misread “lesbian prom pictures?

  85. 85
    WereBear says:

    @YellowJournalism: Criminy! The school canceled prom–if anything, they ruined someone’s senior year.

    And of course, it was perfectly all right for them to ruin the young lady’s prom…

  86. 86
    CynDee says:

    @The Main Gauche of Mild Reason: You have some musings on Understanding that I have wondered about.

    However, I kind of gave up that wondering, because it’s a bit too complex and pointless for me to just keep analyzing by imagination. If anyone felt compelled to tell me more to me about their feelings about themselves, I would welcome that with friendly interest. But since I don’t really know anyone who could or wants to (being none of my business) it seems I just want to go to a higher level of understanding.

    That is: what is not to understand about Happiness? Look at all the prom pictures! Happy people who aren’t hurting anyone. The world could use more of ’em, no analysis needed.

    What makes you feel most like yourself is what should guide your life. If you like to look/dress/feel/behave more manly or more effeminate, it’s no one’s place to insist on a “reason.” — That’s just them being happy. There’s your reason. Wearing a tuxedo, are you? Well, girls wear slacks to school, and men wear skirts in Scotland and Greece — and dance in them!

    Obviously, hateful people who want to control others’ lives are fearful, angry, jealous, and vengeful, and willing to waste their own lives pursuing the undo-able.

    So, what I would also like to delve into is how can ordinary people can go about defusing the deep anger of the intolerant. Social scientists out there, who can recommend some readings that will help us understand the cycle of hatred, meanness and spite, and what we personally might do to assuage the fears and calm the actions of the perpetually angry? What are some things that open up people like that to feeling good about themselves?

  87. 87

    To BethanyAnne:

    Welcome aboard. We can use your voice in our nightly sing-song. Very nice.

  88. 88
    Leelee for Obama says:

    @CynDee: It’s fear. Pure and simple. They are afraid that they are not all that and a bag of chips. Afraid that whatever they have can be had by others who are not “them”. Afraid that all this fear will make them ordinary, simply human, descended from a lesser creature, not superior, not perfect, not always right. Land of the scared and home of the bedwetters, like I said in another thread. These people live there. What make them that way? They are taught that way by their elders who are afraid. How to end their fear-show them the ‘other’ is just like them. Human, ordinary, seeking their way.

  89. 89
    CynDee says:

    @BethanyAnne: Thank you for your clear and well-placed remarks.

    @Leelee for Obama: Yes, you are right.

    It brings to mind the famous example of a Victorian man saw a dog urinating and realized with horror that he had that in common with the dog. He could not recover from the idea of being an animal. HE was supposed to be something higher, but had not the imagination (or the courage) to differentiate his personal existence, and so settled for hating the dog.

    If you’re not superior, you’re nothing!

  90. 90
    Dimmic Rat says:

    Jackson is a modern city with mostly liberal politics. But we still have to battle the lunatic hordes on a yearly basis. Hell we activists just barely won the right for businesses to serve alcohol in my county a year ago.

    Mississippi still has a lot to offer the nation despite the lunatics. UMC is a peerless research hospital where the heart transplant was developed, and where I had the opportunity to learn from the men that developed it.

    And fuck, I just finished paying off my 5k sq ft house on 15acres, I’d rather not have to flee in terror of the fundy hordes.

  91. 91
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    Maybe I missed this somewhere along the way, but why did this young woman have to ask permission from her school to approve her date and her garb? Is that customar now? Does everyone planning to attend the prom submit a questionnaire or somethin?

  92. 92
    BethanyAnne says:

    Thanks all.

    Fair points all, Roger. The complexity of it got me to switch from being a math major to psychology. That and some odd desire to study gender in depth. Wonder where that came from…

    :)
    Bethany

  93. 93
    PhoenixRising says:

    @giltay: My calendar says that 1998’s Toronto is about 15 years away, in Mississippi.

  94. 94
    asiangrrlMN says:

    @Leelee for Obama: Congrats! So happy to hear you got a job doing something you like doing, and good eats! Nice.

    I think the thing that struck me the most about the interview with Ms. McMillen is that she admonishes Dan Savage to have his readers be nice when they email the school board. She’s going through this incredibly trying event, and she manages to be more gracious than many adults would be in her shoes.

    The lesbian prom pics are lovely. They bring a tear to my eyes. With all the shit and nasty stuff we humans do to each other, why the fuck are some people so hung up on love?

  95. 95
    Leelee for Obama says:

    @asiangrrlMN: Thanks! I’m very happy about this! And yes, Ms. McMillen is a terrific spokesperson for the Rights of the LGBT issue at hand. She seems to want to generate light instead of heat. Very refreshing.

  96. 96
    Paul in KY says:

    giltay, when you say ‘Toronto is not like Mississippi’, truer words were never spoken.

  97. 97
    Rick Massimo says:

    They’re not going to hate me or shun me. But personally they don’t believe in it.

    My grandmother doesn’t believe in it, I know that, but she supports me anyway.

    I’m gonna channel Amanda Marcotte (or it might have been Pam Spaulding) on this one: Fuck them and their “don’t believe in it” bullshit.

    Their daughter/granddaughter is a lesbian. It’s a fact. It’s not something they can believe in or not. They can like it or not, but they know that if they say they don’t like it, they sound like Neanderthals and assholes.

    So they say “I don’t believe in it,” because that makes it sound like this is a question of religion and faith, and no one can criticize you for your faith (as long as it’s Christian).

    No fucking dice. Fuck them and that bullshit.

  98. 98
    rocketdyke says:

    @The Main Gauche of Mild Reason:
    i am one of the girls wearing a tuxedo in the lesbian prom pictures. i knew i was a lesbian when i was pretty young, but i can say with 100% certainty that i never wanted to change my gender, and i never had any desire to be a boy. there are a lot of reasons girls might choose to wear boys’ clothes, other than being transgendered.

    one reason i think i did it was because traditionally feminine clothes made me very uncomfortable at that age. i felt like it was easier for adults in my life to ignore the truth of who i was if i conformed to traditional femininity. and being ignored as a teenager trying to figure out who you are – that’s no fun for anyone at that stage in your life.

    i also felt distinctly uncomfortable with the sexual attention that feminine clothes invited – always from boys or men. as a young lesbian, trying to figure out how my sexuality fit into my identity and my life, i was not prepared to defend myself from what felt like an awkward and offensive intrusion of boys’ interest in me physically. i couldn’t deal with it at that point. so much easier to avoid being “pretty,” confound everyone’s expectations, and preserve a little psychological space to work out who i was without those intrusions. but through all of this, i never wanted to be a boy.

    now, i am 35. i have long hair, wear skirts and dresses regularly, and don’t worry that appearing feminine means i am accepting the presumed heterosexuality that others want to put on me and everyone else. i know who i am, and it is easier to not worry that conforming in my appearance means that i am hiding or being silenced.

  99. 99

    […] wrote about one case in Mississippi last week. Here’s another one in Georgia. This time, the boy involved will appear on the […]

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