Two openly gay Illinois students, who also happen to be close friends, made national history this week when their peers voted them Homecoming King and Queen at their high school.
The Lake County News-Sun reports that Eric Irizarry and Ariana Reiff discovered last Wednesday that they had both won the respective titles at Waukegan High School in Waukegan, Ill. Both cite immense support from their friends and peers as the reason behind their victory, according to the publication.
“Ariana and I are both out and open about our sexuality,” Irizarry told reporters. “Our attitude is we are who we are and if that bothers people, that’s okay, but we have so many friends who accept us for who we are.”
Photos of Irizarry and Reiff can be viewed here.
Irizarry spends his time as a competitive cheerleader and lifeguard, while Reiff describes herself as a "chill person" who wants to pursue her dreams of becoming a veterinarian.
“There are some people saying we shouldn’t have won," stated Reiff, "or that we won because we are gay, but I think our classmates chose us because they know us, and they chose us just as people."
LGBT high school students have consistently made headlines over the past month, redefining the typified image of American Homecoming Kings and Queens within the cultural consciousness. Though she reportedly became the victim of bullying and harassment following her win, 16-year-old Cassidy Lynn Campbell became the first transgender student to take the title of Homecoming Queen at her Southern California high school.
Additionally, last week 17-year-old transgender student Ray Ramsey echoed Campbell's historic win by taking the title of Homecoming King by a "landslide" victory at his New Hampshire high school.
Irizarry and Reiff were officially honored as their school's homecoming royalty at last Saturday's football game, parade and dance. “Winning this makes me feel good, because it shows me that people care for me,” Irizarry told reporters. “They understand who I am, and they’re giving me respect. That makes me happy.”