Memphis, Tennessee, high school student Brandon Allen gives the title of “homecoming queen” new meaning.
The White Station High School senior was crowned Homecoming Royalty on Friday night ― and accepted his title in a fabulous gold sequin gown.
Allen, who is the self-proclaimed “Queen of Extra” and identifies as gay, told HuffPost he chose to wear the gown because he truly believes he is royalty. “So I want to rock a dress and look like a queen,” he said.
The school shared a snap of Allen in his dress on Facebook, congratulating him on the win:
The post drew hundreds of comments and shares from people around the country who praised Allen’s bravery and the school’s progressive outlook on the competition.
Principal Carrye Holland had a measured reply for haters.
“Here’s the thing: it’s Brandon’s right to run for homecoming court under Title IX. It’s the students’ choice of who they want to support as homecoming royalty,” Holland wrote in the comments section.
“I’m exceedingly proud to be the principal of our amazing school,” she continued. “You don’t have to agree but disrespectful comments will be deleted. WSHS loves and supports everyone regardless of who they are or what they believe. Thank you for the love and light from so many of you.”
White Station High School made the switch to gender-neutral titles this year, forgoing the traditional titles of homecoming king and queen.
Emmett Campbell, the student photographer who snapped the picture of Allen, said his principal had made a phenomenal impact at the school since she stepped up from her previous role as vice principal this year.
“She genuinely cares about us as students and puts in the effort to make us feel comfortable at school,” Campbell told HuffPost.
Joris Ray, the superintendent of Memphis’ Shelby County Schools, said he supported efforts to boost student voice and expression:
Allen said he’d been stressing before the event, and described his win as a big relief. Of the negative Facebook posts, he said: “I don’t really care.”
“I am so happy my principal stood up for me,” Allen added. “She is such an awesome principal.”
His message to other students looking to break down barriers: “Don’t you dare ever change yourself for anyone else but you! You are beautiful you are unique and you’re special. Don’t ever second guess your existence or feelings for a second.”