Gay couple elected prom king and queen in Maine's Sanford High School

Friday, June 3, 2011

Although prom may have taken place over two weeks ago at Maine's Sanford High School, the fact that students elected a gay couple as prom king and queen remains the talk of the local community.

Sanford, Maine (2003)
Image: Kaelus Primus.

During the May 14 event, 17-year-old Christian Nelsen was named prom queen, running as a write-in candidate. One of Nelsen's friends, Holly Smith, spoke of the help they provided in getting him elected: "The day of prom, we went downstairs, and he was yelling 'Vote for Christian Nelsen!' And I was helping people spell his name, or telling them how to write it on the ballot".

Anyone can win, and on that same notion any type of person can win.

—Christian Nelsen

Nelsen's boyfriend, Caleb Jett, was elected prom king. "I kinda got voted in because he got queen, and it was like 'Who do we vote for king?' and it was like 'Oh, well, his boyfriend, obviously, because that makes sense,'" he said. The two young men wore suits, shirts, and ties to the prom. When the results of the election were announced, they danced the king-queen dance together, Jett wearing his crown and Nelsen his tiara.

Maine is one of only two states in New England that have not recognized same-sex marriages. Though they are aware that not everyone supports them, the couple ran to combat high school stereotypes and to encourage more tolerance. Nelsen commented, "It doesn't matter if it's a guy or a girl who wins prom king or prom queen from now on. Anyone can win, and on that same notion any type of person can win. And I'm talking about the tolerance level of all people when I talk about that, so anyone who is bullied or even just under the radar can win this type of thing."

Minister of a parish of the United Church of Christ Reverend Diane Wendorf supported the couple, citing her church's values of tolerance and diversity. "I'm glad, too, that they were crowned king and queen, because there are all different kinds of people in this world." Some Sanford residents a local news agency interviewed did not approve of the gay couple's crowning, though none agreed to go on camera — out of concerns that their comments might offend someone.

The matter is expected to be brought up by interested citizens at an upcoming school committee meeting. Committee Chair Mark Lucier stated that the school is gathering information on the election, and that the committee may decide if it needs to address the future selection of prom kings and queens.