By Parker Marie Molloy
Originally published on Advocate.com May 27 2014 6:30 PM ET
A gay male high school student in Connecticut made history last week after he was elected prom queen, then used his new platform to speak out against transphobia.
Nasir Fleming of Danbury, Conn., learned that his classmates at Danbury High School planned to elect him to prom court. The 17-year-old Fleming — who identifies as a cisgender (nontrans) gay male — opted to run for prom queen as a statement against transphobia in beauty and talent contests.
"Even though I identify as male, winning this title is a statement against transphobia,” Fleming wrote in the description of the video he posted to YouTube capturing the moment he was crowned prom queen. "As gay people, more or less, are becoming accepted in society, transgender people are still discriminated against severely. If I can win a title that is outside of my gender, there is no reason why a trans-person should have any problems winning titles in his or her gender. Stop the hate; start the love."
In keeping with prom tradition, prom king Rohit Das offered to share the post-crowning dance with Fleming, according to the New Civil Rights Movement. Fleming politely declined, instead opting to dance with his date, though he expressed gratitude for the gesture of a straight male student being comfortable enough in his own sexuality to dance with a gay student.
While a number of trans people have been elected to prom and homecoming courts over the past year — including California teenager Cassidy Lynn Campbell and North Carolina student Blake Brockington — many trans students remain restricted in their quest for high school royalty.
Beyond the halls of American high schools, other pageants have been slow to accept transgender contestants, as Jenna Talackova learned after being allowed to compete in the 2012 Miss Universe pageant only after a lengthy legal battle. Even so, Miss Universe 2013, Gabriela Isler, asserted a belief that transgender women are not on "the same team" as cisgender women, and therefore should not be allowed to compete in the Miss Universe pageant.
"[Transgender women] should have their own pageant, I think, and maybe they can realize in this pageant, Miss Universe, or the other pageants [were] made for women," Isler said during a November interview with HuffPost Live. "They are... they have the opportunity, but I think that they have to compete with the same... the same team. Right?"
Fleming's statement is a refreshing stand for LGBT unity, demonstrating the kindness and empathy characteristic of a good ally, which Fleming told the White Plains Patch he aspires to be. Watch the moment Fleming was crowned prom queen below.