In the sexually liberated 1970s, trendsetter British rock legend David Bowie made gender bending chic with his glam alter ego Ziggy Stardust. That traditional of music—and androgyny—continued in the 1980s with Prince. (Both cultural icons are sadly deceased in 2016.) Like Bowie, Prince pushed the envelope for personal and creative expression. For a time, the Purple One was also known as The Artist. He of many monikers even went so far to adopt an unpronounceable love symbol (very much like a combination of the zodiac signs for male and female) in place of his birth name Prince Rogers Nelson. In this way, both entertainers were born to authentically stand out. And they did in talent, appearance—and everything else.
Still, what would any rock star be without a stunning supermodel at his side? For 26 years until his death, Bowie was married to such a woman, Iman. An interesting development despite a libertine's voracious appetite with a history of many lovers of both stripes. On the other hand, Prince was a conservative Christian (reportedly opposed to gay marriage). He was also meterosexual with an overly “pretty” and manicured gender-fluid persona. (Same as Bowie, being a defining sign of his time certainly escalated record sales.) Yet, in tight pants and silks what other straight guy could get away with wearing a feather boa—or frilly lace—and sweep any woman off her feet while in high heels? There's little doubt men held on tightly to their significant others when these musical geniuses were around.
Beyond the groundbreaking music, artistry and showmanship, both men inadvertently “fathered” a modern Western tolerance for gender and sexual diversity in all of its guises. Those brave and very public examples are remarkable cultural legacies in themselves. They've contributed to a domino effect that has positively influenced the views and social customs of today's youth. How else could a “non-binary” boy (neither identifying as male or female) be crowned prom queen at New York's Fiorello H. La Guardia High School?
Given the school's theatrical pedigree which inspired the 1980 movie and TV series “Fame,” might this be an attention-getting stunt? Something goofy teenagers (of any generation) are known for: a boy chosen for a role traditionally reserved for a girl? Surprisingly not for the individual in question, 18 year old Matthew Crisson. Interviewed by the local affiliate Fox 5, he said:
“I had always struggled with social anxiety and reaching for things I really want. Being prom queen was the first time I stepped out of my comfort zone and proved to myself that I have courage, and I have strength, and I have confidence.”
Beyond that, the even more amazing thing here is fellow student and prom king Kristion Matas's posted reaction to what some might view to be a rather dubious position:
“Its June of 2016 people are being terrorized for their gender, race and ethnicity. Trump is about to be our president! … But y'all arguing about prom king and queen. Y'all bullying people on social media acting like animals but its ok though. God don't like ugly. Congratulations to Matthew Crisson on winning prom queen! You deserve it. Sincerely the prom king of 2016.”
While the grammar is highly suspect, the poignant response of obvious acceptance is not. For further emphasis (and visual clarity), two emojis follow: a face with tears of joy and another blows a kiss.
After almost 8 years of polarizing, politically useful race-baiting how out of touch is “suave” Barack Obama now? How irrelevant is his intolerant creature Black Lives Matter?
The one mitigating factor in an otherwise happy story of tolerance and inclusion is several understandably upset young ladies left out of the loop. Among several gripes was this gem: “It just sucks that men win everything and we thought we at least deserve that.” Ah, the woe of an expectant lady denied what she feels is rightfully her due, a queenly prize.
Synchronistically, that's a fate corrupt Hillary Clinton will deservedly share this November. How does one know? Perhaps anyone in the habit of looking beyond surfaces—of a gender bending rock star or prom queen—can see into the heart of any matter including politics. If that holds true, the infinite wisdom of this 2016 prom king predicts another changing of the guard. Not at a school dance, but at the White House. ATrump presidency. That will preclude from high office another lady running solely on the empty selling point of her gender.