'It showed that people actually did care about me. It was the final stepping stone for me to be like 'people like me.' I feel happy,' the teen said.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on October 29, 2021. It has since been updated.
A Missouri high school student made history, this homecoming season, by becoming the first male student to be crowned Homecoming Queen during the school's homecoming game this week. "It was literally like a dream," the student, Zachary Willmore, told KOMU 8. "It was just really special to me." A video of the ecstatic moment when Willmore won the hearts across social media after it was posted to Twitter and YouTube. In the footage, people in the vicinity are heard going wild with cheers when the teen's name is announced and he adorns the homecoming sash on the field in front of the crowded bleachers.
Willmore, who is a cheerleader on Rock Bridge's varsity team, wore a beautiful shimmery gold gown to the event and looked stunned for a moment as his friend placed the crown on his head. In a video posted to his TikTok prior to the announcement, he admitted that it was "scary as hell" to be "in front of all these people" even though they were "having a blast." Speaking about his unforgettable homecoming experience, Willmore explained that he had put up a social media poll that determined whether he should become king or queen.
"They thought queen could look prettier on the sash," Willmore explained. "So I chose queen." CPS spokesperson Michelle Baumstark praised the youngster while speaking to reporters. "Zachary Willmore is a wonderful student," Baumstark said. "He's engaged in school, active in activities, including cheer, and is not afraid to ask questions and identify challenges he sees around him." The teen gained over a million followers on TikTok after he began posting videos of outfits he's worn at school that have caused him to receive dress code violations. "Teachers were allowed to make the call of what was appropriate," he said. "Many times I did feel like they could target students, and I did feel targeted in some scenarios."
Willmore revealed that he does receive hate online for his outfit choices. "Online, I did get some hate," he said. "After I won, my TikTok account was reported and banned for a couple of days." However, despite the negativity he faces on the app, Willmore chose to use the platform to make a difference in the real world by calling for a change in Rock Bridge High School's dress code. "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 for the school," Baumstark explained.
Willmore said he's part of a group of students who are taking active steps to rectify some of the dress code rules to better reflect current times. "They put me in charge of creating the new dress code," he said. "I got to make a rough draft which got sent to the student council and then to the principal." The dress code in the student handbook at Rock Bridge High School currently states: "The RBHS dress code is currently undergoing a revision for the 2021-2022 school year to be more inclusive of all students. Dress and grooming are considered matters of individual taste. The primary responsibility of dress for school is left to students and parents. The RBHS administration reserves the right to limit specific dress that is disruptive, distracting, unsafe, or inappropriate for the school environment."
"A group of students has been assembled to work on the dress code revisions with administration," Baumstark said. "They are still at the beginning stages, but Rock Bridge hopes to have a revised dress code by the end of the school year and before Zachary graduates." Reflecting on the memory of winning homecoming queen, Willmore said: "My grandparents were there that day, and I hadn't really formally come out to them. I was really nervous about that. I saw them in the crowd, and they were crying which made me really happy when they called my name. It made the win a lot sweeter. It showed that people actually did care about me. It was the final stepping stone for me to be like 'people like me.' I feel happy."