Zachary Willmore, a student at Rock Bridge High School in Columbia, Mo., became the first male student to be crowned Homecoming Queen. The teenage Missouri High School student won the title to rapturous applause and cheers this week, which he called “literally like a dream.”
“It was just really special to me,” he told local NBC News outlet KOMU 8.
As one of the cheerleaders for Rock Bridge High School’s varsity team, he posted a poll to his social media pages on whether he should aim for Homecoming King or Queen.
“They thought queen could look prettier on the sash,” Willmore revealed. “So I chose queen.”
Wearing a gold gown, he accepted the sash and Homecoming Queen title from the team’s mascot, and later celebrated on the field with friends and family.
Video of the event was shared all over Twitter and YouTube. “We’re having a blast,” he can be heard screaming in the video. “In front of all these people… it’s scary as hell!”
Columbia Public Schools spokesperson Michelle Baumstark told reporters that “Zachary Willmore is a wonderful student.”
“He’s engaged in school, active in activities, including cheer, and is not afraid to ask questions and identify challenges he sees around him,” she said.
According to Baumstark, Zachary Willmore gained attention in the school system for challenging to the school district’s dress code. Thought he’s received dress code violation notices in the past, he is currently working with the school district to update their rules.
“They put me in charge of creating the new dress code,” Willmore said. “I got to make a rough draft which got sent to the student council and then to the principal.”
Due to his prominence in the fight against more-conservative school dress codes, he has amassed over a million followers on TikTok, where he often shares stories about what he wears to school and what is considered “a violation.”
According to KOMU 8, the current Rock Bridge High School dress code is written as “undergoing a revision for the 2021-2022 school year to be more inclusive of all students.”
Though the school can still decide to give out dress code violations for outfits that they deem to be inappropriate, disruptive, or unsafe, the school district is reportedly hoping to update what is allowed by the time Zachary Willmore graduates in the Spring of 2022, at the end of the school year.
“Teachers were allowed to make the call of what was appropriate,” Zachary Willmore said. “Many times I did feel like they could target students, and I did feel targeted in some scenarios.”
Despite all the support, Zachary Willmore said that he did receive some negative comments on social media following the Homecoming Queen win, but he tries his best to brush them off.
“Online, I did get some hate,” he said. “After I won, my TikTok account was reported and banned for a couple days.”
Due to some of the outfits he wears and posts online, he revealed that he’s dealt with negativity on TikTok before.
After the event, he told KOMU 8 reporters that the Homecoming Queen win “showed that people actually did care about me.”
“It was the final stepping stone for me to be like ‘people like me,'” Zachary Willmore said. “I feel happy. My grandparents were there that day, and I hadn’t really formally come out to them. I was really nervous about that.”
He said that he “saw them in the crowd,” and noticed that “they were crying,” which brought him a lot of joy to know that he accepted by his family for who he was.
It “made me really happy when they called my name,” he said. “It made the win a lot sweeter.”