- The Magazine
Two high school seniors have become the first queer couple in their Ohio school district to win prom king and queen.
Annie Wise and Riley Loudermilk, seniors at Kings High School in Kings Mill, have known each other since the third grade but began dating six months ago.
The couple told NBC News that they were aware that friends planned to vote for them for prom court, but neither Wise nor Loudermilk expected to win.
Wise said she was so excited when the school announced their victory that her “crown fell off and it broke. There was a lot going on, but it’s something I’ll never forget. It was amazing.”
Kings Local School District posted a photo of the couple to Facebook, where it has received almost 5000 reactions and 500 shares at the time of writing.
Unfortunately, not everyone responded positively to their win. The Facebook post received a number of negative comments, and Loudermilk said the school district struggled to keep up with and delete posts as they surfaced, as people called the couple an “absolute embarrassment” and said they “need Jesus.”
The same criticism was echoed at a school board meeting following Loudermilk and Wise’s win, with conservative parents bashing the decision to allow the couple’s prom victory to stand.
“Sorry, but I believe that there are still two genders, a male and a female,” one parent said, according to NBC affiliate WLWT5. “I think tradition stands for a queen that has a vagina, a king that has a penis and testicles.”
Another parent complained about one of Kings High School’s teachers choosing to “not only [fly] the BLM flag, but also a gay pride flag, [and] refuses to fly the American flag.”
The school district refused to back down, calling the prom vote “solely a Kings High School senior class nominated and voted-on initiative.”
Loudermilk said she anticipated criticism, but found it “kind of surprising that a bunch of adults were bashing teenagers.”
“I just think it’s weird that somebody who’s old enough to be my mom is so worried about my genitalia and what’s in my pants,” she added. “I think that’s more concerning than having a gay couple win prom, obviously.”
On Facebook positive responses continue to roll in, and thankfully outnumbered the meanspirited ones.
One former Kings High student wrote, “Congratulations from a KHS alumnus, class of ‘87! Your generation gives me so much hope that our nation will finally leave division and intolerance behind us.”
Another user similarly showered the couple with praise, commenting, “Congrats to not just the new ‘king’ and ‘queen’ but to all the LGBTQ+ teens and their families out there! Also thank you to this school for showing love not hate. To those of you expressing your disappointment and hate to children MIND YO BUSINESS and MOVE ON!”
Loudermilk and Wise are undeterred by the negative comments and are glad they might potentially inspire others to come out and embrace their sexuality.
“I do hope it kind of just helps people realize that it’s OK to come out, and it’s also OK to come out at your own pace in your own way.” Loudermilk told NBC News. “You will get hate from it, but there’s also a really big chance that you’re going to get so much love and support, like we did.”
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