Since his freshman year at East Mecklenburg High School in Charlotte, N.C., Blake Brockington has always wanted to be the school's Homecoming King.
"I thought it would be nothing more than thata dream," he said.
But, on the first Friday of February, Brockington's dream became realityto the cheering, overflow, soldout crowd attending an East Meck home basketball game.
Brockington, 17, a senior, is believed to be the first openly transgender Homecoming King in school history and, perhaps, the entire state of North Carolina.
"I feel this is something that needed to be done eventually and I am honored that I'm the one to have done it," said Brockington, who noted that he is dating ( Surrell Thomas, a female ). "Living in the same state that deemed same-sex marriage illegal, I never thought that I would have this opportunity. I hope that this allows my peers and school officials ( to see ) that just because someone is different, they are not less human. I also hope that this opens the doors for transgender policies in schools."
Brockingtonwho is a drum major in the school's marching band, plays on a rugby team, and enjoys photographywas one of 13 finalists to be king. Then it was a battle to raise the most funds for a selected charity: Mothering Across Continents, to help raise money to build schools in South Sudan.
He raised $2,335.55 of $3,203.22 that the school will be donating, thanks to support nationally, not just locally, and considerable aide from Time Out Youth, a local LGBT youth services agency.
When Brockington officially heard the crowning announcement, he thought, "Am I dreaming?! This is unbelievable."
In an exclusive interview with the Windy City Times, Brockington admitted that he did not think the school would support his bid to become kingand some didn't.
But Brockington triumphed. Being Homecoming King "was one of my few typical teenage boy aspirations, and I hope that it will pave the way for transgender youth of America, if not the world.
"I have made history and have hopefully opened eyes, minds, and doors for progress in the community as a whole."
Brockington said he's received "a lot of positive feedback" from peers, mostly female, members of the LGBTQ community, and random people in the local community since the announcement. He also has received "a lot of negative and harsh feedback" from male peers and men of the local community.
"I didn't know that I was 'female' until I was 6. I always knew that I'd eventually be a man. I just never knew what that meant for me, what it was called, or that it was even possible," Brockington said. "I have never blatantly told my family upfront, but I assume that they have gotten the hint. My mom and sister didn't know until I was in state custody. They have been trying. My stepmom was always supportive, just very concerned about my safety. My dad was not accepting at all, but according to my family, he is trying to do better with my name and [male] pronouns."
Brockington now lives in state custody with his foster father, Donald Smith.
Brockington said he has been supported extensively by his "friends, girlfriend, social worker, her co-workers, family court judge, teachers, coworkers, and people of the community." However, he has not been supported by "some of my peers at school, some of my family, people of the community that know that I am transgender, though they are few in numbers."
"My teachers took well to calling me Blake as opposed to my legal name," he said. "My friends have been through my transition with me. I have lost some due to their refusal to accept me and have grown closer to those in my corner. My counselor, administration, and staff that have known me since my freshman year were not receptive of my name and pronoun preference. Part of it was due to ignorance, some of difficulty to get used to it, and some of it was due to their lack of knowledge."
Brockington is planning to attend the University of North Carolina-Charlotte in the fall to major in math and minor in music and education. "My aspirations are not set in stone, but I think that I want to be a math teacher," he said.
Brockington spoke on the youth panel at last year's Philadelphia Trans-Health Conference, and will be there again this year"hopefully in charge of a few workshops," he said. "I also mentor an 8 year-old boy that is also transgender. I have helped many guys with beginning and making it through their transitions. I am currently trying to win a battle with USA Rugby because they will not allow me to play on a boy's team. I don't want to play on a girl's team and would feel extremely uncomfortable, especially since I have started testosterone. I swam on my neighborhood boys' swim team and never got any negative feedback."