Openly-gay student surprised when fellow students elect him homecoming king at conservative East Texas school
University of Texas at Tyler senior Chad Myers admits his recent election as the school’s first openly gay homecoming king surprised a lot of people especially him.
“Everyone knows me as openly gay,” Myers said. “It was a surprise to me when I won.”
Myers was elected during homecoming activities on Oct. 14. He was crowned along with homecoming queen Lea Guard, who is a senior from Huntsville.
Myers, who came out his senior year in high school in Liberty Hill north of Austin, said the Tyler campus is hardly thought of as a liberal haven.
“I had never been called a faggot until I moved to East Texas,” Myers said. “I think it is a pretty big deal that an openly gay guy won homecoming king at such a conservative school. Thanks to everyone that voted for me.”
Myers, who was nominated by the student government association, defeated contenders nominated by the Black Students Association, the Baptist Student Ministry, the University Students Veterans Association and several others.
Every organization on campus is allowed to nominate one male for homecoming king and one female for homecoming queen.
Myers said the school does not release the number of votes each can didate receives so he has no idea how close the election was.
“There was quite a few people who were surprised,” Myers said. “It was like, he’s being crowned right now and he’s gay and everyone knows he is gay.”
Myers led Campus GLBT, the school’s gay group, last year, and he currently is the vice president of external relations for the group. Campus GLBT did not nominate him for homecoming king because the group had not yet completed its paperwork for formal recognition.
Myers said he ran for homecoming king as a way of capping his college career. He noted that he has been active in several student organizations in addition to Campus GLBT, the school’s gay group.
“It’s just a good way to go out with a bang,” Myers said. “Your senior year, you just want to leave your mark on your school. It was a good way to leave my mark.”
Samantha Dwight, co-chair of Campus GLBT, said Myers had already left a mark on the school where he has spent two years.
“Chad contacted Campus GLBT Outreach the summer before he transferred here and has been the best thing that has happened to us in terms of visibility,” Dwight said.
Dwight said she was thrilled when Myers was elected homecoming king.
“I think that proves what a huge impact Chad has had in terms of dispelling myths and stereotypes about LGBT persons here on campus,” Dwight said. “I know it doesn’t mean that most students are completely comfortable with homosexuality, but at least it shows they honor the contribution that Chad makes to the diversity of our campus.”
Dwight said she was also proud of everyone who voted for Myers.
Myers said that so far no one has made any sarcastic comments, such as did he consider running in both categories.
“I don’t get a lot of harassment at least to my face,” Myers said. “I’m sure there’s plenty of talk that goes on behind my back.”
Myers said he hopes that during his college career he has helped dispel the stereotype of gay and lesbian people as “awkward, weird people.”
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, October 27, 2006.