Nothing pleases us more than seeing gay young people accepted in their schools. We scoffed at our high school’s gay-straight alliance (we were still in the closet and struggling to self-identify, cut us some slack); but some schools don’t even have them. So to hear California’s Murrieta Valley High School senior Chad King crowned prom king is good news for all of us — we thought. King, who’s been out since his sophomore year, was awarded the honor at prom alongside queen Taylor Osland, who has both Down syndrome and alopecia — a fact that didn’t make us feel all that comfortable.
On one hand, King’s winning the crown suggests his fellow students accept him as their peer, regardless of sexual orientation. But voting for him alongside a mentally disabled person connects two dots that shouldn’t necessarily be associated. Don’t misunderstand: We’ve got nothing wrong voting for the underdog, and there’s no reason why a gay or mentally disabled student shouldn’t be crowned king or queen. But the student body’s concerted effort to get these two to sit in the prom thrones side-by-side sounds more like a pity vote and suggests an equating of homosexuality and mental retardation. Nonetheless, congratulations to them both.