Matthew Crisson looking blissful in an art-inspired prom outfit. (Photo: Instagram/hotmessiah)
A famous performing-arts high school in Manhattan has crowned its new prom queen, but not everyone is celebrating.
Matthew Crisson, who was born male but is non-binary — meaning he does not identify as either gender — shot straight to the top when he was voted the first non-female prom queen at Fiorello LaGuardia High School of the Performing Arts, which inspired the hit 1980 film Fame and a popular TV show of the same name. Crisson accepted the honor of prom queen in a glittery gold cocktail dress and matching shawl, an outfit inspired by Gustav Klimt’s painting The Kiss, according to the teen’s Instagram.
Some girls who attend the school were less than thrilled for Crisson, and a backlash of jealous rants broke out on social media. “It just sucks that men win everything and we thought we at least deserve that,” one student who calls herself Taj Mahal, posted to Facebook, according to the New York Post. “I know I go to LaGuardia because a boy won prom queen,” another girl, Asia Pierre, snarked on the site, prompting hundreds of homophobic replies before Facebook decided to remove the post.
In light of the controversy, a slew of people is now rising to the teen’s defense — including LaGuardia’s newly crowned prom king, who calls himself “Kristion AndNothing Else Matas,” on Facebook. “It’s June of 2016 and people are being terrorized for their gender, race, and identity,” the student posted publicly. “Y’all are bullying people on social media acting like animals but it’s OK though. God don’t like ugly. Congratulations to Matthew Crisson on winning prom queen. You deserve it! Sincerely the prom king of 2016.”
Crisson accepts the crown beside Matas, the prom king. (Photo: Facebook)
Other students, including Zoe Saint-Mars, were proud of Crisson. “Very awesome strides our LGBT+ community has taken this year!!!,” she posted to Facebook, giving a shout-out to Crisson and saying, “In an age filled with so much hatred, isn’t it time we celebrate our differences? Love loudly my darlings!!!” André Maldonado, proclaimed, “Shoutouts to Matthew Crisson for winning prom queen at LaG. Sorry you have such a bitter class to graduate with!” according to the Daily Mail.
Despite the rising support, at least one LaGuardia parent, Mona Davids, was outraged at the negative reaction to Crisson’s win — especially in the wake of the recent Orlando shooting — and called attention to it by informing the school and the Department of Education’s LGBTQ community of the bullying.
And the community listened. Soon after the prom, hundreds of LGBTQ students — along with their parents and teachers — gathered for New York City schools’ first-ever Pride celebration last week. There, Crisson, an 18-year-old Staten Island native, kept his regal head held high. The teen told Fox 5 News, “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.”
Crisson hasn’t addressed the negative comments about his win. He did, however, reflect on his middle-school years in the Fox interview: A time when he says he was “very ready to end my life.”
The teen said he is “so glad I didn’t do that because there are so many great things that I accomplished this year … and that I’m going to accomplish.” He encouraged other young members of the LGBTQ community to “stay strong and know that things are going to get better for you.”