To say I was an unlikely prom queen is like saying Susan Boyle is an unlikely celebrity. For a start, no one had even asked me to be their date that night, suggesting that the majority of my support (prom kings and queens are elected) came from female friends rather than undisclosed male suitors.
But this also means that I had the ultimate prom queen experience, in that I was the unpopular girl who somehow became queen. This is now a total Hollywood cliche, the self-validating final scene to movies such as Mean Girls, starring Lindsay Lohan, and Never Been Kissed, with Drew Barrymore. Well, Drew? Lindsay? Eat my silver spray-painted dust, because I lived that cliche first.
Instead of slinking home and venting her misery into her diary as most teenagers would do, the precocious McMillen has taken her case to the American Civil Liberties Union, reviving the seemingly unwinnable fight in America's deep south between gay rights and conservatives.
It is completely apt that a high school prom should be the device to spark a debate about human rights in America, because proms really are still a very big deal there. Not so much for the mixing with the opposite sex or the underage drinking – both of which are less hard to come by for today's American teen than they were in, say, 1952 – but the tradition. Proms were important before they started being a convenient climax for movies, but movies made them even more symbolic. They came to represent the end of adolescence, the last chance to lose one's virginity before college (American Pie) or just kiss that boy or girl you'd fancied since you were 14 (every prom movie, ever). Thus, all the 1950s hoo-hah you see in films is still adhered to, as proven by McMillen wanting to bring a date and wear a tux.
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