By now most of us have heard of the girl in Mississippi who only wanted to take her girlfriend to prom.  Instead, in order to avoid conflict prom was canceled.  To me this seems a little bit like treating a hangnail by cutting off one’s finger.  The school now has more upheaval and bad publicity than it would have otherwise.  There have been Facebook pages, news articles, and an appearance on Ellen.  My school took a more clever approach.

My junior year of high school I decided I was taking my best friend to Winter Ball.  Whether or not we were dating is not really the issue.  I knew I was bi, but not a lot of other people did.  I had no luck with guys, so I decided to take her.  I went to a very small, all female, Catholic high school.  There would be no “stag” guys and all my friends had dates.  What could be the harm?

My only saving grace in this situation was the fact that my friend has a traditional Japanese name, which the administration may not have guessed is a pretty common female name.  Weeks before the ball we had to have a guest permit signed by our date’s parents and submitted for approval by the administration.  It never really dawned on me that I was doing anything wrong until I showed up at the ball with my friend on my arm.

The teacher in charge of checking us in gave me an incredulous stare.  She didn’t want to cause a scene, and my date had already been approved.  How could this have happened?  What would the nuns say?  Was the baby Jesus crying as we stood there for a second in pregnant silence?  She quickly regained her composure, the blood returning to her face, and made sure I was aware that this was not to happen again.  The formal excuse I was given was that we already had enough girls at the ball without adding them from other schools.  Apparently, if I wanted to share my night with a girl it shouldn’t matter who that girl was.

There was some discussion about it at school the following Monday, but I never made a big deal of it.  I took a boy, who I also wasn’t dating, to prom.  Friends of mine who were dating were able to attend because they both went to my school, and I couldn’t help but note the hypocrisy in the whole system.  I can’t imagine not being able to take someone I genuinely cared about to one of the most important, if not the most important night of a girl’s high school existence.

Years after graduation most of the petty arguments and crises one experiences in high school are forgotten, and we realize how meaningless most of it was.  It comes in the relationships we forge and the memories we make that last a lifetime.  I may not remember the food, the music, or the dress, but I have wonderful memories of that Winter Ball.  Everyone should have the right such things.  Should it matter with whom we have them?  Prom isn’t a wedding or having a child.  We haven’t even crossed over into these kinds of political issues.   It’s prom.  Let the kids have fun before they’re thrown into the real world and adulthood.

Go now, Facebook your prom date.

Advertisements