Since childhood, Carly Levy dreamed of being elected prom queen, but her girlfriend Courtney Steiner never saw it happen for herself.
Except on June 4, it happened when their Pennsylvania high school student body elected them both to share the crown and become the school’s first prom queens.
“This victory means that different people can still be recognized and can win and can represent a community. Seeing our school come together for us has just given us great hope,” Levy told USA TODAY.
The two high school students from Pennridge High School never suspected that they would be considered for the throne until friends started telling them they were going to vote for the couple. And several of their friends on the prom executive council voted to change the gender terms “king” and “queen” to “prom royalty.”
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Despite the support of their friends, Levy was surprised they even got on the ballot, especially in Bucks County, PA.
Steiner said the county leans to the right and in places the couple have suffered micro-attacks and stares. She viewed the student body electing two women as prom queens as rejecting gender norms and homophobic beliefs.
Fortunately, the couple have had an overwhelmingly positive response from the local community and students. Steiner recently turned out to be queer to those close to her who were quick to congratulate her when they heard the news.
“It meant so much to know people that we are willing to look beyond the traditional choice of the heterosexual couple and support each other,” Steiner told USA TODAY.
Despite the support, Levy said some students tried to discredit their victory. Several said the girls won only because they were a gay couple and it was pride month.
“It was disheartening but also so far from the truth. We won based on our character,” said Levy.
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GLAAD, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, had not heard of a same-sex couple named Prom Queen in Pennsylvania. The organization was only able to name two cases across the country in which same-sex couples were named prom royalty, according to 6 ABCs.
“It’s an incredible story of support and inclusion for LGBTQ youth, especially at a time when so many people are being targeted across the country,” said Barbara Simon, Head of News and Campaigns for GLAAD.
Levy said that the fact that she and Steiner were crowned prom queens during LGBTQ pride month was “the icing on the cake.” The two girls were inundated with messages of support and appreciation.
Steiner said she was grateful that their victory as prom queens represented a future of inclusion and acceptance for “different and neglected” people.
“My sister said her coworker told her that watching us win gave her hope and inspiration for when her gay daughter goes to high school,” Levy said.
Follow Gabriela Miranda on Twitter: @itsgabbymiranda