Call Vanderbilt students what you likeprivileged, preppy, single-handedly keeping the Nashville tanning salon business alivebut they can't be labeled wholesale as conservative. A gay man has decided to run for homecoming queen and, so far, the university has reacted with little more than a raised eyebrow.
Lambda, Vanderbilt's gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender organization, nominated a male homecoming queen and a female homecoming king. Both students went through the application and interview process, and senior Everett Moran made the top 10 homecoming queen finalists. Needless to say, he wears this honor with glee.
"I accepted the homecoming nomination because I think that the way homecoming court works now, it doesn't represent all students. It just presents Mr. Vanderbilt Senior and Mrs. Vanderbilt Senior as this perfect heterosexual couple. I wanted to change that."
Moran completed his application and wrote an essay just like all the other homecoming hopefuls, outlining why he wanted to be homecoming queen. "I said [being homecoming queen] is a chance for students to speak up and say that Vanderbilt is an inclusive place. It's time for us to represent our queer community."
Vanderbilt's homecoming court has a history of diversity-related scandal; three years ago, students protested the all-white, nearly-all-blond female finalists, and even this year, despite Everett Moran's nomination, there are murmurs about the lack of minority representation among the candidates; only three of the top 20 king and queen finalists are minorities.
When Moran went through the interview process for homecoming court, he was asked what he would most like to change about Vanderbilt if he had $1 million to spend on the school. "I said I would foster discussion between students. Vanderbilt has a lot of diversity, but students don't embrace it; they don't like to step outside of their groups and talk to each other. I would want to make them interact, bring everyone together." Everett may not have $1 million to spend, but he serves as Lambda's community outreach chair, trying to bring Vanderbilt students together with the rest of Nashville.
The administration has remained quiet about the whole thing, which can be viewed as either supportive or strategically dismissive. Last week, Everett got a call from Mona Hicks, assistant vice chancellor of student activities, who asked to meet with him. "She said that because of the voting procedure rules, they were having problems with me running," Moran says. Vanderbilt's rulebook doesn't specify the gender of king and queen nominees, thus Moran could "legally" run for either position, but according to Hicks, voting procedure requires students to vote for their top three female and top three male choices. Things would get confused if a male ran for the position of queen, she explained. Moran was incensed. "I told her, 'Whether or not this is an issue, I'm already a finalist. I've gone through the interview process, and the committee selected me as a finalist. It's not my problem.' " Hicks, who couldn't be reached for comment, then told him to go ahead with his candidacy and that the administration supported his decision.
Students found out about their male homecoming queen nominee on Monday and, so far, they seem unaffected. Many students applaud Moran's efforts, but others of them simply don't care about the homecoming court. Moran says he hasn't personally received any negative feedback from the students, "although," he says, "a couple of my friends have told me that they've heard people in their classes talking bad about it. But nothing has been said specifically to me."
The homecoming court polls opened Monday and continue until the end of today. If Moran makes the top five, he will appear in the homecoming parade and Commodore Quake (pep rally and concert) and will be escorted to the football game and presented to the university at halftime. "I asked my friend, Melissa, to be my escort, but she has to go out of town, so I think I'll ask another friend, Allan." Moran says he'll wear a dress to the football game like all the other homecoming queen nominees. "I don't have one picked out yet. I'm waiting to see if I make the top five before I go on a major shopping spree."
There's no link to the NYT story.
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