On Saturday night, a New Hampshire high school student attended his prom as his drag queen alter ego, known as "Raya Sunshine," and took home the title of prom queen.
Oyster River High School senior Liam Mills says he was in shock when he heard his drag queen name called by the assistant principal on prom night. The winner of the prom king title happened to be an openly gay student, noted the 18-year-old, so it made his win even sweeter due to all the "LGBT representation."
Liam's mother, Tracy, gushed over her son's win. "She is incredibly brave to do what she did," she told Foster.com of her son.
Liam came out as gay when he was twelve, but Tracy claims she's known of her boy's sexual ordination since he was three years old. The teen says his fashion obsession mixed with doses of the VH1 show "RuPaul's Drag Race" turned him onto dabbling in drag. Eventually he began dressing in full-blown drag and performing musical numbers as "Raya Sunshine."
In anticipation for prom, Liam asked his classmates to vote for him as either prom king or queen.
"It would honestly be like the best thing that could happen," he told Fosters.com back in April. "Like, I’m going to be happy either way because I know like I am the queen, like in general. Be who you want to be. That’s a very simple thing but it’s very true."
Tracy was over the moon with the news of her little boy taking home prom queen. "I think that the students at Oyster River High School made a bold statement on Saturday night," she said on Monday. "She is incredibly brave to do what she did. It could’ve gone in a completely opposite direction and she was prepared for that, but nonetheless she went there as herself ... as himself!"
"She owned it, from the second she became Raya," she continued. "I am proud of the fact that Liam is so confident with himself that he could do this and do it so beautifully. I’m proud of Raya because she wants nothing less than to be like any other — accepted and loved for who she is. The ORHS students made her feel that on Saturday. With each of their votes, they ultimately said, be who you want to be and that is amazing."
Liam said everyone at school was supportive of his drag queen persona. "As soon as I walked in, every one of the teachers that was chaperoning was so excited to see me, even the ones I hadn’t met before, and it made me so happy that I was so important to them," he recalled. "I was worried that some of the people going wouldn’t be so kind, but after a couple minutes in the room my worry completely vanished."
Throughout the night, classmates told Liam how nice his hair, dress, and makeup were, he said. "Whenever I talked to someone they were always smiling and I felt so happy that I could be that ray of sunshine, pun intended, to people."
"It turns out, an openly gay boy won prom king," he noted, "I was just happy that there was some LGBT representation this year at all, so I already felt like a winner. ... Then they announced the runner-ups for queen, and one by one I got more and more nervous."
When Assistant Principal Mark Milliken announced "Raya Sunshine" as prom queen, Liam said he was overwhelmed. "Right before Mr. Milliken announced who had won, he looked over at me and there was a jolt of electricity," he said. "I couldn’t believe it."
He walked on stage to take the crown as the song "Dancing Queen" played.
"The king and I had a moment before I had to step outside (it was insanely hot in there!) and I mentioned how lovely this message was," Liam said. "Simply, the image of an openly gay boy and a drag queen winning prom king and queen is a lovely sight, but It’s not about the title at all. It’s about the message that our communities are moving forward."
"[W]e are truly making strides for love and acceptance," he added. "I have always felt accepted at my school, work, and the places I like to go, but now I feel truly loved by my community."