Live blogging the Mississippi Second-Chance Prom
May 8, 2010
[7pm] I'm here in Tupelo, Mississippi for the Second-Chance Prom hosted by the Mississippi Safe Schools coalition. They just opened the doors and young people are starting to stream in & walking under an awesome balloon arch. They are being greeted by hundreds of helium balloons & streamers at the tables w/goodie bags & programs awaiting them. And like clockwork the background mix starts on "Don't Stop Believing". I think I am in a movie! Or else an All-Queer episode of Glee. Met Alison Gill from GLSEN's public policy office in DC - she's tabling next to me. Poor dear, airplane lost her luggage & she was forced to shop for a new little black dress to wear to prom. Just spoke w/a nice pair of young folks about the Student Non-Discrimination Act and one wanted to know if there were any Republicans on the bill. Love the awareness! Everyone looks fabulous - I hope to have pix to share on Monday but am lacking in the technology tonight. Something to look forward to on a Monday! Dinner is served! Gonna get myself a plate and fuel up for the rest of the evening. I hope there is barbeque! [8pm] Ducked into the Green room for another pop & got to meet Lance Bass- woot! What a sweetheart- and his hair was perfect. He's a native son of Mississippi and his support is one of the main reasons this whole fabulous evening is happening. The first entertainment is taking the stage- a group called Hey Champ. They are all super-cute & the young people are really into it. At this moment doing a cover of Toto's 'Africa' - but not acapella they are trying to get the kids to sing along but, um, I think a good lot of them have never heard this song before. But they are giving it a try! Ceara Sturgis just stopped by the table and picked up a peace/love/equality bracelet (as Seen on MTV's Real World DC!). She was the MS student who was told she couldn't wear a tux for her yearbook photo, contacted the ACLU of MS, the school caved but then mysteriously when the yearbook came out a few weeks ago Ceara was nowhere to be found. I'm asking folks to fill out postcards about passing the Student Non-Discrimination Act- it's the federal bill that would protect LGBTQ students from the kind of discrimination that Ceara, Juin and Constance have experienced. And those are just the young people whose stories we know - there are so many more. All students deserve a safe and supportive learning environment - no matter where they live. The bill's been introduced in the house and Senator Franken is going to be doing the same in the Senate & is currently searching for a Republican co-sponsor. C'mon R's - this is important stuff! Okay, time to take a wee break & get off my feet- def would help if I was jelling right now in these Doc Martens on this cement floor... [9pm] Oh yeah- ?uestLove from the roots is spinning now- and the students are killing it on the dance floor. A little Jamie Foxx, a little BEP's, some Beyonce, a splash of JT. And now Walking on Sunshine. Yay for the 80's! Finally got to meet Sarah Ryan of the ACLU of MS & the MS Safe Schools Coalition in person. I've been emailing back & forth with her for weeks about HRC's participation in the Prom & each message I'd say "ok, I think this is the last question..." but of course there were always more. She's been working with Constance on all of her prom-related experiences. And she looks lovely in her gown! Everyone who fills out a postcard for the Student Non-Discrimination Act gets entered into an opportunity drawing for a fabulous Prom King or Prom Queen tee shirt. As you can imagine, both involve lots of glittery, shiny, sparkly goodness - & the font reminds me of 'Boogie Nights'. (You can get yours at one of the HRC Action Center Stores in San Fran, P-town or DC). I wore mine (Prom King, in case for some reason you were wondering) on the plane here. I asked the nice flight attendant for some coffee & when he brought it he had written a lil note "I like your shirt!" on the napkin. Jeez Southwest- could I love you anymore? Going to slip out now for a quick phone call to my wife- I wish she was here with me for the slow dances! And the fast ones too. Am I old if I kinda wish I had earplugs? Yes, I guess it does. Ah well. [10:15 pm] Just back from the Green room, ice-cold Coke in hand (earlier in the darkness I mistakenly picked up a Dr. Pepper - that first sip sure was a shock!). ?uestLove now mixing up a little Lady Gaga vs. Madonna action. I know who my money is on. Even though the buttons I've been handing out say "Gaga for Equality" and not "Madonna for Equality". Whatever. The students have not stopped dancing for a moment! They all look so fabulous, too - and so happy and totally comfortable. The most adorable I think are the baby-dykes - prolly cuz I am a bit jealous that they know who they are already & didn't go to the prom in a dress their sister made for them (it was awesome, Rob- I really appreciated it & it was lovely) nor dothey have perms in their hair. Yes, I had a perm. Many of them. And the cute little baby dykes here get to have faux hawks . So very cool. MS Safe Schools Coalition and the prom committee did an excellent job for tonight- they have a red carpet for the students to walk in on, there is a fun photo-op area complete with props like hats & feather boas, and everyone is getting a swag-bag when they leave. They did a really awesome thing in regards to photographs - if a student doesn't want to be in any pictures they wear a yellow wristband. Smart idea - especially with all the tweeting and facebooking and youfacing (30 Rock anyone?) people do now-a-days. Wouldn't want to out anyone who isn't ready yet. Less than an hour to go! [11:30 pm] Okay, Prom is definitely winding down cuz the slow songs have started - and what would a Prom be without Maria singing Hero. ?uestLove intro'd the song by saying that everyone here tonight was a hero to him - I heartily agree. Mississippi has some great people - doing hard work in a mostly unwelcome environment. There are allies across this state- you just don't hear from them as often as you hear about the prejudiced folks. Last night at dinner with Juin & Constance (and their respective entourages) the server was in her late 40's and just tickled that she had our table. Talking about how brave Constance was and how she was hoping that Lance Bass would come to the restaurant for brunch. I know there are way more people like her. What an amazing sight to watch the students slow-dancing. For once w/out feeling stared at or judged or hearing comments or wondering about their safety. This is what prom - heck, this is what America - should be like for LGBTQ people. And HRC, the ACLU, MS Safe Schools Coalition, GLSEN and others are working every day to get us a bit closer to making that scenario a reality. And those folks out on the dance floor - they are Generation Equality - the future (and the present!) of the queer movement. And I am feeling pretty darn good about the future with them in it. Time for me to pack up and hit the road. I hope to hear Spandau Ballet's 'True" before the night is over, but maybe that isn't a stock "last song of the night" here. Sweet dreams, people. Peace out. p.s. I hope Juin remembers to pick up his shoes - I have no idea what to do with 7 inch heels!