On Oct. 23, a teenage boy made history in Columbia, Mo., when he was named his high school’s homecoming queen.
Zachary Willmore, a senior at Rock Bridge High School, made national headlines when his fellow students voted him in as homecoming queen as opposed to homecoming king.
It all started when Willmore, who is a varsity cheerleader at his high school, posted a poll on his Instagram page. He asked whether he should run for homecoming king or homecoming queen.
“I took a really quick Instagram poll,” Willmore told KOMU 8 News. “They thought queen would look prettier on the sash. I was like, ‘You’re so correct.’ So I chose queen.”
Willmore — who has more than 1 million followers on TikTok — posted a quick video of himself with some of the other students on the homecoming court:
Willmore was not seeking the homecoming queen sash just to be facetious or ironic. In fact, he’s long been deeply invested in making his high school a more equitable place for people of all genders. He has often challenged his school’s dress code, using his TikTok account to decry the times he was “dress coded” for his “feminine” or avant-garde outfits.
“Teachers were allowed to make the call of what was appropriate,” Willmore told KOMU. “Many times I did feel like they could target students, and I did feel targeted in some scenarios.”
Columbia Public Schools spokesperson Michelle Baumstark confirms that Willmore has spurred conversations at Rock Bridge High School about what a fair and inclusive dress code should look like, saying to KOMU 8 that he “has challenged the dress code over his time at Rock Bridge and is working with the school to develop a more up-to-date dress code.”
Willmore was the first boy voted in as homecoming queen at Rock Bridge High school, and his homecoming victory quickly went viral as the video of Willmore accepting his sash — and the cheer squad rushing out to congratulate him — was shared on TikTok and YouTube:
@zachwillmoreReply to @poopacus thank you guys so much for all the support I’ve received I can’t explain how happy I am tonight ##fyp ##queen ##homecoming ##gay ##viral ##lgbtâ¬ original sound – Just smile and scroll
Willmore’s teachers says that Willmore is a dedicated student and a special part of Rock Bridge High School.
“Zachary Willmore is a wonderful student,” Baumstark told KOMU. “He’s engaged in school, active in activities, including cheer, and is not afraid to ask questions and identify challenges he sees around him.”