INDIANAPOLIS — Alan Belmont waited patiently to see if his name would be called.
The 17-year-old junior at North Central High School stood with the other four nominees for prom king Saturday. He hoped he would win. His friends assured him there was no other possible outcome, but he didn’t want to get his hopes up.
Then the student council member announced the winner, and all Belmont could hear were his classmates’ cheers and screams. He was North Central’s first openly transgender prom king.
“I was just really hoping that I was going to be able to win,” Belmont said. “I knew that it would give me a platform and an opportunity."
He said he knew it would give others an opportunity to see somebody who shares their experiences and is eager to talk about issues they feel need to be discussed.
Less than a week later his story has spread across the state and nation. Belmont’s friends told him this would happen — although again he was skeptical of their prediction — and now he has the opportunity to use his position to further the conversation.
He said he has always believed in the importance of visibility, and running for a position like prom king gave him that visibility. The confidence to run, though, came in part because Michael Raunick, the director of North Central’s mixed show choir group Counterpoints, offered him the chance to dance with the guys in 2016. Counterpoints is the school's top choir ensemble.
Raunick said some of the other students told him that Belmont had come out publicly through a social media post Jan. 1, 2016, in the middle of Belmont’s sophomore year and just before the start of the show choir season.
Raunick brought Belmont into his office and said he told him he was 100 percent comfortable with who Belmont was and made sure he felt supported. However, because the show choir performs in male and female costumes, Raunick needed to know what costume to get for Belmont and where to plan for him to stand during shows.
Belmont chose to dance with the guys.
“Dancing with the guys and having a close relationship with a whole group of guys is what’s helped me have a lot more confidence in myself,” said Belmont, who’s been a part of the group for two years now. “I’m really thankful to him for reaching out to me.”
At first Belmont sang with the altos, danced with the guys and sang with the girls when both were performing, and sang with the guys when it was just the guys. Now he sings with the tenors, and said it’s been a lot easier keeping everything consistent. Raunick said Belmont handled it all well and that no one would have noticed how challenging it was.
“I might need you again on alto in the future, we’ll see,” Raunick told him Thursday.
“But if I start hormones I’m going to start singing bass,” Belmont joked. “I’m working my way through all the sections.”
Belmont hasn’t engaged in any hormone treatment or had any surgeries. He came out to his parents in November 2015 and said while they’re supportive and accepting of who he is, they are still a bit uncomfortable with hormone treatments.
Belmont said they’ll feel better when a doctor tells them it’s safe and that when he turns 18 in September he’ll go to an endocrinologist because he wants at least to try hormones before 2017 ends.
A few years ago he didn’t even know what being transgender meant. He said he had gone to a private school for 11 years with the same 60 people before going to public school and didn’t start to come to terms with his sexuality and gender until then. At a gay-straight alliance meeting his sophomore year he came to understand what it meant to be transgender, and the confidence he gained through show choir helped him decide to run for prom king.
“I was like okay, now’s the time,” Belmont said. “I mean, I might as well. I’m not going to get a chance to do it again, and it’ll be a good thing if I end up winning.”
The response he’s gotten from the school community has been positive on the whole. While he ran for prom king a flyer of his was vandalized, the king in “Al Belmont for Prom King” crossed out and “queen” put in its place, but other than that he’s only had to laugh off weird comments on social media posts.
Raunick said he’s more impressed by the fact that students don’t seem to care that Belmont is transgender than the active support they show him when any sort of negativity occurs. He said it shows a lot about the school and community that the kids voted for Belmont, too.
“There’s so much talk about ‘they’ gave him this prom king, and I’m like ‘they’ is just the community," Raunick said. "It’s just the kids. This isn’t the administration trying to make a statement that we’re forward thinking. This is kids just voting for Al.”
Raunick said the school community has done a good job of walking the line between addressing an important issue publicly and demonstrating it is normal. Belmont agrees, and isn’t shying away from using his platform now and in the future.
“Everyone needs a voice, and everyone needs a role model to look up to,” Belmont said.
Like what you're reading? Support independent, award-winning college journalism on this site. Donate here.
Pushing football to spring poses issues with event staffing, student health for the 2021 season.
Sen. Kamala Harris is the first woman of color to appear on a major party's presidential ticket.
The announcement came Tuesday afternoon.