“The Prom”: Addressing Homophobia and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

By: Violet Webster

In many ways, this year’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade was similar to the 90 that came before it. There were pop stars hanging out with the Muppets, giant balloons floating through the sky, and the Rockettes did their trademark kickline. However, besides being the coldest Thanksgiving in the history of the parade, this year also marked the first kiss between two women to take place during a performance. This kiss was part of the musical performance by the cast of “The Prom”, one of the newest arrivals on Broadway for the 2018-19 season.

Though it had altogether a subpar performance in the parade, as a member of the LGBTQ+ community (and an avid fan of Musical Theatre) when I heard that “The Prom” was coming to Broadway this November, I was ecstatic. When Emma, a queer teen in small-town Indiana, expresses that she wants to go to her junior prom with her girlfriend, she is faced with a homophobic PTA and an intolerant community (including her mom). Rather than letting Emma and Alyssa –Emma’s closeted girlfriend– be together, the PTA decides to cancel the event all together. The news of this makes its way back to Times Square where four washed up (and self-obsessed) Broadway stars decide to come to “help” Emma’s cause. The music is catchy and the story is adorable, which is why it has gained so much buzz within the community (particularly from the fans of Mean Girls the musical as the two shows share Tony nominated director-choreographer Casey Nicholaw).

Though the theatre has been a refuge for many members of the LGBTQ+ community throughout the years, “The Prom’s” performance outraged many who argued that it showed “adult themes” on a family-oriented program. In my opinion, that couldn’t be further from the truth. “The Prom” is the story of someone who overcomes every obstacle to be with the person they love. This is a universal theme. For hundreds of years, we have been given countless tales along the lines of “knight in shining armor slays a dragon to be with his princess”; “The Prom” follows that same general narrative. A girl overcomes homophobia, a much scarier beast than a dragon, to be with the person she loves. Who cares if that person just so happens to be another girl. By showing this kiss, it sends a message of hope to all of the people hiding who they are from the world, a world that they are terrified won’t accept them. Coming out is hard, especially when you don’t know if you will be supported. I know when I saw that kiss, sitting in my pajamas on Thanksgiving morning with my mom and brother I felt like I, and people like me, had a voice. “The Prom” might just be another musical, it might just be a passing craze, but for one moment it was something much, much more.