In 1980, Two Boys Fought For The Right To Attend Prom Together

    Aaron Fricke filed a lawsuit after his principal refused to allow him to take Paul Guilbert to prom. Fricke v. Lynch is now considered one of the first groundbreaking legal victories for LGBT youth.

    Aaron Fricke wanted to take his friend Paul Guilbert to Rhode Island's Cumberland High School prom in 1980. The principal would not allow it.

    Aaron wrote of the special night in a personal essay:

    The crowd receded. As I laid my head on Paul's shoulder, I saw a few students start to stare at us. I closed my eyes and listened to the music [Bob Seger's "We've Got the Night"], my thoughts wandering over the events of the evening. When the song ended, I opened my eyes. A large crowd of students had formed a ring around us. Probably most of them had never seen two happy men embracing in a slow dance. For a moment I was uncomfortable.

    Then I heard the sound that I knew so well as a B-52s fan. One of my favorite songs was coming up: "Rock Lobster."

    Paul and I began dancing free-style. Everyone else was still staring at us, but by the end of the first stanza, several couples had also begun dancing. The song had a contagious enthusiasm to it, and with each bar, more dancers came onto the floor.

    People magazine wrote of the night in 1980:

    Before the dance had even begun, the evening was tense. Police kept reporters and photographers at bay outside while tight-lipped chaperons watched for trouble on the dance floor. Fricke, wearing an electric-blue tux, and Guilbert, in formal black, were driven to the dinner dance at the nearby Pleasant Valley Country Club by a member of the Rhode Island Gay Liberation Task Force. A protective phalanx of officials ushered them to the door, where Fricke turned to face the press and TV cameras, waved and gleefully stuck out his tongue.

    Aaron would later publish a book about his experiences:

    Now, over 30 years later, Aaron’s book about the experience has been adapted for the stage.

    The play, like his groundbreaking court case, immediately received national attention:

    It was premiered by Boston Children’s Theatre in 2012.

    Aaron Fricke discusses the premiere of the play:

    View this video on YouTube

    H/T:Box Turtle Bulletin