Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

So You Think You Can Dance? in 1980 the Nation Was Riveted by Another Gay Student's Prom Battle

Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

So You Think You Can Dance? in 1980 the Nation Was Riveted by Another Gay Student's Prom Battle

Article excerpt

AARON FRICKE WALKED into the principal's office of Rhode Island's Cumberland High School with a big question: Could he bring a male date to his prom? Because the principal believed violence would break out if two men danced together, the answer was a firm no. It's a similar story to that of Mississippi's Constance McMillen, who fought this spring to bring a female date to her prom and was later tricked by her classmates into attending a sham event. The difference is that Fricke's prom was 30 years ago--and, more important, he ended up attending prom with his date, Paul Guilbert, anyway.

Making national news in 1980, Fricke, a senior, sued his school and ultimately won the right to his date. Aided by the ACLU and the Boston-based Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, he convinced a judge that his First and Fourteenth Amendment rights were violated.

In his ruling, later upheld by an appeals court, Judge Raymond Pettine said officials could take safety precautions and that "to rule otherwise would completely subvert free speech in the schools by granting other students a 'heckler's veto. …

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