BY ANNIE ROSENTHAL, CO-EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
It all started as a joke. Senior Emiliano Muñoz was listed in the yearbook twice last year–once as “Emiliano” and once as “Emiciano.” When it came time to sign up for Homecoming Court elections, he had an idea: “I wanted Emiliano to be king and Emiciano to be queen,” he said. “But I wasn’t allowed to do both. So I just ran for queen. It went from a joke to a message saying a male could be queen if he really wanted to.”
Muñoz won by a landslide. The next day, Principal Pete Cahall called him in for a meeting before the homecoming game, when the members of the court were set to be announced.
“He told me how he takes offense to this act because he thought I was being homophobic…I apologized that it was poor judgment, that it could be seen as homophobic. I would renounce my title and step back,” said Muñoz.
However, after further conversation around what he understood to be Munoz’s motives, Cahall made a summary decision to cancel the court entirely. He interpreted Munoz’s behavior as a personal attack. He said: “I’ve got a young man who thinks it’s a joke to say he’s queen when I suffer for 50 years of my life being gay. And I don’t think he saw it on those terms, and the hundreds of students who voted for him didn’t either. But to me it’s a slap in the face. It doesn’t say we are a community of tolerance when people think it’s a joke to say you’re gay.”
The court’s cancellation came as a disappointment to many students who ran for positions. Said senior Angel Cox, who ran for queen, “This is my senior year and I spent a lot of time and money in hopes of becoming Homecoming Queen. It was very disappointing that there was no homecoming court this year. I think whomever is responsible should apologize to the participants.”
Senior Jazmine Bunn, who also ran for queen, agreed: “Honestly at this point I don’t care anymore, but for the underclassmen it’s not fair.”
Some students feel that the cancellation was excessive. “Some boy ran for Homecoming Queen as a joke, just to be funny. It was nothing against being gay. I think Mr. Cahall called it off because he felt that it was towards him being gay,” said senior Brandon Sharp, who was a candidate for king.
Cahall says the decision to cancel the court was a product of multiple factors. One candidate for queen had been left off the ballot, and several students ran unopposed. Additionally, he was disappointed with student behavior at the pep rally.
“I expect our seniors to be leaders and when we’re at a pep rally shouting obscenities that’s not leadership,” he said. “I loved the energy. What I didn’t like was the negativity.” Next year, he said, he hopes cheerleaders will develop interactive cheers that “channel the energy in a positive way.”
In the coming week, Cahall plans to visit senior English classes to explain his decision. “I want to talk about how hurt I was and continue to be, as well as say I made the decision and this is why,” he said.
The complications surrounding the court raised questions about whether a homecoming court will be included in Spirit Week festivities in coming years. “If we’re going to continue to have Homecoming King and Queen, which is a 78-year tradition, we’re going to have to reevaluate the process. But if it’s a big joke, why are we doing it anyway?” said Cahall.
Student Government Association faculty adviser Eden McCauslin remains optimistic about future elections. “We’re actively looking at how we nominate and vote for Homecoming Court and we hope to have a new and improved way starting next year so that it’s fair and inclusive for everyone,” she said. “Overall, I think Homecoming was a great, positive week that got a little dramatic. And hopefully we can keep that positive energy into winter break.”