MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - White Station High senior Brandon Allen made history when he was named to the school’s homecoming court on Friday, Sept. 27.
Winning the crown, what he wore to the game and the message his classmates delivered with their votes, combined to make a story that's been grabbing headlines across the country for the last week now.
"It makes me feel honored my student body voted me homecoming queen," Allen tells WMC Action News 5, "I was so happy it took my breath away."
A picture of Allen, in a bronze sequin dress with a crown on top of his head certainly got people’s attention. He’s the first openly gay teenager crowned WSHS Homecoming Royalty.
"I really just wanted to wear a dress," he says, "because I'm a queen. I deserve to look the way I want to look."
Allen’s story quickly went viral, shared by NBC, CBS, CNN, Inside Edition, even the Daily Mail in London.
The critics began name-calling, posting to the school’s Facebook page. But WSHS principal Carrye Holland shut them down.
"It's Brandon's right to run for homecoming court under Title IX," she wrote, "and WSHS loves and supports everyone."
Shelby County Schools Superintendent Dr. Joris Ray weighed in on Twitter.
"Shelby County Schools," he tweeted, is a place where "everyone is treated with dignity."
Even Queer Eye’s Jonathan Van Ness chimed in with a tweet about the photo of Allen in his dress saying, “what a beautiful picture.”
Allen says the outpouring of support has been inspiring, and he admits, surprising.
"I'm honored for people to support me like that," he says, "because sometimes some people don't get that support. I didn't know so many people cared about me at the school."
When his name was announced out on the football field, the crowd in the stands erupted into a roar.
The Memphis school sent the world a loud message about equality and love. And now, a brave young man is taking his new found fame in stride.
“I don’t pay attention to it half the time,” he says. “I feel like that’s some people’s mistake. They pay attention too much and be like, ‘I gotta be this person or look like a certain person.’ You just have to be yourself. That’s all I really care about.”
Brandon says the Ellen Show has contacted him, and his eyes light up when talking about the sweet shout-out he received from Miss Tennessee. His next goal is to audition for America’s Got Talent and plan for college.
“Be yourself 100-percent,” he says with a smile, “and don’t try to lie about yourself or change yourself because somebody doesn’t like you. Just be yourself.”