Local High School Crowns First Transgender Homecoming King
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Blake Brockington is East Meck High School's newest homecoming king. Seventeen-year-old Brockington identifies as transgender. Judging from the loud cheers and applause when his name was called during halftime of the varsity boy's basketball game, many of his classmates apparently identify him as simply cool. When asked what it's like to know he's supported, Brockington says, "It felt amazing because I haven't had that always, but now I have it."
Brockington is the first transgender CMS student to be named homecoming king. If the trans community continues to grow in Charlotte, he won't be the last. "This is a great example that even if we don't understand, we can accept and we can continue to grow," says Time Out Youth (TOY) Director of Youth Services O'Neale Atkinson.
TOY, an LGBT community organization, just launched a transgender support group in response to growing demand. Atkinson says, "Eight years ago, the majority of our youth were gay men or lesbian women. Honestly, now, what I see is a lot of 'queer pansexual' or 'trans romantic.'"
Meaning, it's no longer as simple (if it ever was) to just be a gay man or lesbian woman in Charlotte. There's a lot more language to learn. Advocates say moments like Friday's homecoming signify a step toward greater acceptance of a growing population.
"They need that support and they need that safe space," says Carrie Barto. She leads the trans support group at TOY. She says Charlotte is becoming more and more inclusive of the LGBT community and points to several indicators as examples: this week, UNC Charlotte hosted nationally-known transgender speaker and actress Laverne Cox. Companies like Bank of America and Wells Fargo provide transgender bathrooms to their employees. And there's even an app to help trans users find safe restrooms.
Atkinson says, "It makes me proud to be a part of Charlotte, without a doubt."
It makes East Meck's new homecoming king proud, too. Brockington says, "That's an honor. That's an honor to be a part of East Meck's history."
Brockington raised more than $3,000 for charity in his bid for king. The TOY transgender support group is open to kids ages 13 to 20. They meet once a week.