FRANKLIN, Tennessee – A teenage boy from Tennessee who wore a dress to the ball to crush the stigma surrounding gendered clothing has said his mission is accomplished, despite a viral standoff with a detractor.
Dalton Stevens, an 18-year-old from Franklin High School, said he chose a stunning red floor-length dress and 6-inch heels to wear to her prom with her boyfriend to show that the men can wear dresses – and look amazing in them.
The reaction has been stellar. At a pre-prom dinner and while taking photos with her boyfriend, Stevens said he was approached by strangers who applauded his outfit and turned him on. People outside were taken aback by the dress – and in Franklin, Tennessee of all places, they said.
“I wanted to show everyone that it was a piece of cloth,” he said. “Nothing more, nothing less.”
Things took a turn when the photos ended and one man – Sam Johnson, the former CEO of a telehealth company who was fired from his executive post after a video of him went viral – asked Stevens for wearing the dress and told him he looked like an idiot. Stevens said he initially thought it was someone’s father playing a prank on him before realizing the stranger was serious.
The video, captured by Stevens’ boyfriend, shows Johnson standing inches from the teenager, unmasked and peeping. Johnson followed Stevens and wiped the boyfriend’s phone. He missed and hit Stevens instead.
Police responded to the incident, but Stevens told the Tennessean he was unsure if he wanted to escalate the matter to law enforcement. A police spokesperson said the department received the video and found it of concern.
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“I couldn’t imagine that someone around this time and around this time would come to a stranger, let alone a teenager, with so many people and try to examine them for what they choose to wear,” Stevens said.
But despite the encounter that rocked him, Stevens didn’t let him ruin his prom night. He held his head up high and walked into his school, where he spent a memorable evening with his friends and boyfriend.
“I didn’t let it ruin my night,” he said. “I walked into this school anyway knowing I was wearing a 6 inch heeled dress and serving all looks. And anyone who wants to watch can watch. A guy can look as sexy in a dress as he does. a girl can. ”
While Stevens said her boyfriend posted the video in hopes of getting a reaction, they didn’t expect it to go viral. But with the million views came a flood of support on social media.
Dozens of people have commented on his Instagram post of his outfit, telling him how gorgeous he is and the hope he inspires. One person sent him a direct message and confided that they lacked the courage to embrace any form of gender fluidity, even in clothes, and applauded Stevens for his courage in being true to himself .
Actor Billy Porter posted a Stevens TikTok dress to his Instagram. Porter himself has worn extraordinary ball gowns at awards shows in recent years.
“I want people to remember that you can really be whoever you want and that you shouldn’t let anyone tear you down,” Stevens said. “That every person is beautiful, and especially with the clothes, it’s fabric and there’s no sex. It’s really sexless. … Just wear what makes you happy and what makes you feel good. feel beautiful. ”
Follow Brinley Hineman on Twitter: @brinleyhineman.