From Prom King to Queen: Using Homophobia to Prevent Teen Drinking

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Buzzfree Prom, a non-profit organization promoted by mall-shop Claire’s and conceived  Dallas-based cause marketer Liza Orchard, is warning kids about underage drinking with this ad:

Go from prom king to queen in three shots or less.

Tonight, his dance card is going to be full because he chose to drink underage. And instead of celebrating with his class on prom night, he’ll be toasting his new best friends. Play it safe and party smart. Please.

Okay teen drinking and driving is a huge issue, and drinking/drugging at proms is never a good idea. Recall if you will  the infamous two part episode of Beverly Hills 90210 where Donna, thespianized by Tori Spelling, has two glasses of champagne before the prom and passes out in front of the principal. "Donna Martin graduates!" became the rallying cry of a generation.

And then there was my own prom where I was on the decoration committee–our senior class adviser thought it was so sweet that I wanted to be involved in school activities, wow she was naive–we based the prom on the theme from Carrie. Afterward I went to some guy’s house with my friends and drank a lot of 151 rum and when I woke up I was in the ICU and the nurse told me I’d flat-lined. My parents were not thrilled at all and my mom taped the hospital bill to the fridge as a reminder of my misbehavior.

But equally as dangerous for teens and tweens: Bullies. Bullying using homophobic slurs is tremendous problem in schools, as Straightlaced: How Gender’s Got Us All Tied Up  and these two stories from Pam’s House Blend demonstrate.   And the poster shown here, part of Buzzfree’s high school school sober prom program, plays on gay fear: that if you go to jail as a straight dude, you’ll be turned into a queen. 

This is offensive on so many levels. So I called the creator of Buzzfree Prom, Liza Orchard who runs her own cause-based marketing company. She assured me that half her friends were homosexual, and the poster wasn’t promoting homophobia, rather

The poster doesn’t foster a fear of being homosexual but a fear of going to jail.

Orchard added that if you are the weakest person in the cell

you will appear to be the queen in the group.

She does admit that queen is a term used in and outside the homosexual community for "feminine" homosexual men.  But again she stresses that it’s not a homophobic ad, and that some schools are ordering more because it’s the poster that strikes the strongest note with students. She adds:

If you find it homophobic, that’s your opinion.

Orchard feels that she is promoting a fear of jail and a fear of rape, not of a fear of being turned into a queen in "a sexual sense," but one of being "run" and put in the lowest place in the jail house pecking order. And she concludes with:

Jail is deviant situation, not a homosexual situation and there’s a big difference between homosexuality and deviance.

Yes, there is a huge difference between deviance and homosexuality.  But why promote fear of homosexuals, of being a queen, and align that with force, with rape?

[Thanks to Jessi Tebben, Minneapolis Public Schools, Out4Good Program and Arthur Lipkin]

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