2019 | Schools

Male Prom Queen Challenges ‘Gender Norms’

Northwood High student later passes crown to girlfriend of dance’s king

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Northwood High prom royalty. Kramer is second from left.

Photo via Northwood Principal Mildred Charley-Greene

In an unprecedented move at a Silver Spring high school, the student body elected its first-ever male prom queen on Saturday.

Brian Kramer, a 17-year-old senior at Northwood High School, earlier this year decided to run for prom queen after realizing he likely wouldn’t be elected king in a competitive field.

His goal, he said, was to challenge “gender norms” and it quickly became clear he had support from students.

“We spend all our time worrying about this societal norm that exists for some reason, and what I wanted to do was show people it’s OK to do something just because you feel like it, even if it isn’t what you’re told you’re supposed to do,” Kramer said. “Just do it because, realistically, it doesn’t matter.”

Although unusual, Saturday’s selection at Northwood isn’t the first time Montgomery County students have taken a unique approach to selecting homecoming or prom royalty. In 2016, students at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School elected a “gender-neutral homecoming court,” allowing students to elect either the traditional male and female court or two males, two females or transgender students, according to a school system spokesman.

Up against about 10 other girls for queen, Kramer said he hasn’t received any negative feedback from students or parents. Rather, he’s received an influx of positive feedback, Kramer said.

Northwood has a student enrollment of about 1,700 students.

“Everybody was going insane,” Kramer said of the moment he was announced queen, the same day the school system hosted its first-ever forum focused on LGBTQ issues. “All I could think was, ‘Wow, this is wild.’ ”

Kramer didn’t hold the crown for long, though.

After taking a few pictures, he handed the crown over to the girl who received the second-most votes. She was the girlfriend of the boy who won king, Kramer said.

“It wasn’t necessarily about winning, but the amount of time we spend thinking about labels and what they mean, and the standards people set for us, we’re wasting our time,” Kramer said. “We’re not here that long, so it doesn’t really matter what the label is. You can run for or do whatever you want.”

Caitlynn Peetz can be reached at caitlynn.peetz@bethesdamagazine.com