High school girlfriends Annie Wise and Riley Loudermilk made history last month when their fellow seniors from Kings High School in Ohio elected them the first-ever queer prom king and queen in their suburban Cincinnati school district.

The couple, who are both 18, said they were aware their friends were voting for them but admitted that getting elected prom king and queen is a “popularity contest” they never expected to win. Loudermilk said that the crowing was “amazing,” saying that screams filled the room as they were announced. So many of their classmates jumped up to congratulate them that Loudermilk said her crown fell off and broke.

“There was a lot going on, but it’s something I’ll never forget,” she told NBC News.

Their win was widely celebrated by the local community in Kings Mills, a conservative area most famously known as the home of the Kings Island amusement park, but also drew its fair share of controversy. According to local NBC news affiliate WLWT, a number of parents protested the couple’s win at a school board meeting for the Kings Local School District last week.

“Sorry, but I believe that there are still two genders, a male and a female,” said a parent who was not identified by local media.

But the bulk of backlash to Wise and Loudermilk’s win was on social media. On April 17, the Kings Local School District posted a photo of the beaming couple in their prom regalia on Facebook. “Congratulations to Kings High School 2021 Prom King and Queen, Annie Wise and Riley Loudermilk! #KingsStrong!” the accompanying text read.

Trolls flooded the comments section, with one woman referring to the post as “stupid” and “nasty.” “God made us different for a reason,” the Facebook user claimed. “Women should NOT be with another woman, and a man should NOT be with another man.”

While the couple expected some blowback, they said that they were surprised to see a “bunch of adults were bashing teenagers.” In comments to NBC News, Wise added that it was “weird” that people old enough to be her mother were “so worried about my genitalia and what’s in my pants.”

“I think that’s more concerning than having a gay couple win prom, obviously,” she said.

But Wise and Loudermilk said they don’t believe that these views are reflective of the beliefs of the student body that voted them prom king and queen, nor do they represent the majority of the community in Kings Mills. Of the more than 2,000 people who commented on their Facebook photo, the vast majority were affirming and supportive.



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