Gay Man Picked as Homecoming Queen
FAIRFAX, Va. | George Mason University senior Ryan Allen dresses in drag and doesn't mind being called a queen - homecoming queen, to be exact.
Allen, who is gay and performs in drag at nightclubs in the region, said he entered the homecoming contest as a joke, competing as Reann Ballslee, his drag queen persona.
But he considers the victory one of his happiest moments and proof that the suburban Washington, D.C., school famous for its run to the Final Four a few years back celebrates its diverse student body. "I was very touched by how Mason was so supportive through the whole process of allowing a boy in a dress to run for homecoming queen," Allen said in a phone interview. "It says a lot about the campus that not only do we have diversity but we celebrate it."
The senior from Virginia's Goochland County won the pageant Saturday at a sold-out Homecoming basketball game against Northeastern University.
Large portions of the crowd cheered as Allen, wearing a gold-sequined top, accepted the tiara and the Ms. Mason 2009 sash.
The school, known for racial diversity and a basketball team that pulled off a string of upsets to advance to the Final Four in 2006, was selected the nation's top "school to watch" in the most recent U.S. News and World Report rankings.
Allen's selection does not appear to have caused much consternation among the school's 30,000 undergraduate and graduate students. An online article in the student newspaper prompted only two comments, both positive.
University spokesman Dan Walsch said the school is "very comfortable" with Allen's selection and the contest rules are not sex-specific.