All Hail the Homecoming King, Long May She Reign

Seniors JeNessa Bogan, Aaron Holmes and Sabi Nieves walk down the decorated football field as part of the 2015 Homecoming Court. JeNessa Bogan and Sabi Nieves became the first same gendered King and Queen in Loy Norrix homecoming history. Photo Credit / Cori VanOstran
Seniors JeNessa Bogan, Aaron Holmes and Sabrina Nieves walk down the decorated football field as part of the 2015 Homecoming Court. Bogan and Nieves became the first same gendered King and Queen in Loy Norrix homecoming history.
Photo Credit / Cori VanOstran

By Grace Marshall, guest writer

Well dressed couples walk down the green football field and assemble in a line. Shivering from anticipation or perhaps the freezing wind, the homecoming hopefuls are awaiting the announcement. The homecoming prince and princess have already been announced and the remaining members of the court are anxious to find out the school’s new reigning monarchs. “And the homecoming king is… Sabi Nieves!”

Loy Norrix history was made on Friday, October 16th, when students elected the first female homecoming king, senior Sabi Nieves. Sabi ran with JeNessa Boggan, who was elected queen.

“At first I wasn’t intending to run for king, but then I just factored in that ‘cause I like girls and not guys, why not just run with a girl?” said Nieves.

In today’s society, girls running for homecoming king, and vice versa, has become a symbol of gay and transgender pride. The “Tampa Bay Times” tells the story of a transgender teen boy who struggled to be accepted at his school, Osceola High. Sebastian Rollins, born Gina Rollins, decided to run for homecoming king, thinking that maybe if he was accepted as a king, he could be accepted as boy.

Unlike Sebastian, Sabi Nieves, wasn’t looking for acceptance or trying to make a political statement, but rather a personal triumph.

“It was my senior year and I wanted to do something big,” Nieves said.

Dressed in a neon pink tee and a leather jacket, Sabi shares about her homecoming night.

“I was just really happy. All of my really close friends came up to me and made a really big circle around me and everyone was jumping up and down,” she said, a small smile on her face.

It was an exciting night, both Sabi and JeNessa Boggan, were ecstatic.

“I was sorta expecting to win, but it was still a really proud moment, being able to make history for Loy Norrix,” said Nieves.

Like any change, Sabi’s road to success was not without speed bumps. Despite the Supreme Court’s ruling that legalized gay marriage, many people still openly oppose gay or transgender people, and not even Sabi’s campaign was spared criticism.

“Not to my face, but I was told, like, people at [Kalamazoo] Central were saying that a girl shouldn’t have won or that they shouldn’t have let me run,” Sabi continued. “Some people even ripped up campaign posters and left them on the ground.”

Despite the negative response from some, Sabi did not once consider dropping out of homecoming court.

“No, I didn’t care, ‘cause like all the fun and positivity that came out of it overpowered the negative,” Nieves declared proudly.

Homecoming was not Sabi’s first time standing out against society’s ideals. Nieves came out as lesbian the summer before her junior year.

“At first I was kinda scared like just of what people would think or if people would treat me differently. When I told everyone, everyone was really supportive. A lot of people said they already knew,” Nieves said laughing.

Sabi kept her sexuality from her family longer than her friends because of their religion. She was worried that her family wouldn’t be accepting of her. Nieves remembers times where she overheard her family talking about how being gay was wrong. Despite her concerns, however, Sabi did eventually come out to her mom.

“I remember her exact words were, ‘That’s not the choice I wanted for you, but I don’t love you any less,’” Sabi revealed.

True to her word, Nieves’ mother did support her campaign for king and she wasn’t the only one.

“My friends were really supportive, they helped me campaign and everything. We made hundreds of posters. We made cookies. Nessa handed out candy bags. It was all over Facebook and Twitter. When we told people to vote for us a lot of people told us that they were already going to,” Nieves recalled fondly.

Sabi later said that it was nice to have so many people supporting her, but even if she hadn’t received such an immense amount of support, Sabi still would have chosen to run for king.

Nieves said, “I probably still would’ve [run for homecoming king] just so I can rub it into people’s faces that I did it.”

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