Since she was a child, Carly Levy dreamed of being elected prom queen, but her girlfriend Courtney Steiner never saw it happening for herself.
Except, on June 4, it did happen when their Pennsylvania high school’s student body elected both of them to share the crown and become the school’s first co-reigning prom queens.
“This win means that people who are different still can be acknowledged and can win and can represent a community. Seeing our school come together for us just gave us a large sense of hope,” Levy told USA TODAY.
The two Pennridge High School seniors never suspected they’d be considered for the throne until friends started telling them they were going to vote for the pair. And several of their friends on the prom’s executive council voted to change the gender-oriented terms “king” and “queen” to “prom royalty.”
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Despite their friends’ support, Levy was surprised they even made it on the ballot, especially in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.
Steiner said the county leans toward the right and in some places, the couple has experienced micro-aggressions and stares. She viewed the student body electing two women as prom queens as rejecting gender norms and homophobic beliefs.
Fortunately, the couple experienced an overwhelmingly positive reaction from the local community and students. Steiner recently came out as queer to extended relatives who quickly congratulated her when they heard the news.
“It meant so much to know people we’re willing to look past the traditional heterosexual couple choice and support us,” Steiner told USA TODAY.
Despite the support, Levy said some students tried to discredit their victory. Several said the girls only won because they’re a homosexual couple and it’s Pride Month.
“That was disheartening but also so far from the truth. We won based off of our character,” Levy said.
GLAAD, the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, had not heard of a same-sex couple being named prom queens in Pennsylvania. The organization could only name two instances across the country in which same-sex couples were named prom royalty.
“GLAAD celebrates Carly and Courtney for their courage in living their truth with pride and joy. Props to their families, friends and classmates not just for accepting them for who they are, but honoring them in such a public and affirming way. The world is a safer and healthier place for everyone when all are included. Congratulations, Queens,” Barbara Simon, head of GLAAD’s news and campaigns told USA TODAY.
Levy said the fact that she and Steiner were crowned prom queens during LGBTQ Pride Month was “the cherry on top.” Both girls have been flooded with messages of support and appreciation.
Steiner said she’s grateful their win as prom queens represents a future of inclusivity and acceptance for people who are “different and overlooked.”
“My sister said her co-worker told her that seeing us win gave her hope and inspiration for when her gay daughter goes to high school,”’ Levy said.
Follow Gabriela Miranda on Twitter: @itsgabbymiranda