By Daniel Reynolds
Originally published on Advocate.com October 09 2013 1:36 PM ET
A high school in Illinois has chosen a gay student for its homecoming king and a lesbian student for its homecoming queen.
Eric Irizarry and Ariana Reiff, who both identify as gay, expressed surprise at their election as homecoming royalty at Waukegan High School, a four-year public school with over 4,000 students.
“I really didn’t think I was going to get it because of the way I dress and the way I am,” Reiff, an aspiring veterinarian, told the Lake County News-Sun. “I’m not girly.”
“Ariana and I are both out and open about our sexuality,” added Irizarry, a competitive cheerleader. “Our attitude is we are who we are and if that bothers people, that’s OK, but we have so many friends who accept us for who we are.”
Administrators verified that the election is by popular vote and said the choice of two openly gay students as homecoming king and queen is a testament to the tolerance and open-mindedness of its student body.
“Our students are very accepting of each other’s differences in a great variety of ways,” Steven Hamlin, director of the school’s Washington campus, told the News-Sun.
The close friends were crowned at the school’s homecoming football game last Saturday.
“Winning this makes me feel good, because it shows me that people care for me,” Irizarry said. “They understand who I am, and they’re giving me respect. That makes me happy.”