For many teenagers in the U.S., their senior year of high school is incredibly special. Many are excited for the last year of school, while meticulously planning and figuring out the next phase of their lives. Additionally, many students navigate different rites of passage like graduation, prom, and homecoming. For Missouri teen Zachary Willmore, homecoming will always have a special place in his heart, as he is the first teenage boy to win homecoming queen at his now alma mater, Rock Bridge High School in Columbia, MO.
@zachwillmore Reply to @poopacus thank you guys so much for all the support I’ve received I can’t explain how happy I am tonight💕 #fyp #queen #homecoming #gay #viral #lgbt ♬ original sound – Just smile and scroll
“It was literally like a dream” Wilmore told KOMU 8 News. “It was just really special to me.”
In November 2021, Willmore made history by taking on the crown. What started as a simple Instagram poll turned into an unforgettable moment.
“[My followers] thought “queen” would look prettier on the sash,” Willmore said for KOMU 8 News. “I was like, ‘You’re so correct.’ So I chose queen.”
In an interview with MSNBC, Willmore mentioned that, although campaigning was an optional part of the process, he really didn’t do any of it. It seems like the rest of Rock Bridge’s students had their sights set on changing the status quo as well.
The homecoming queen can also effortlessly add “TikTok star” to their resume. With 1.2 million followers, the 18-year-old’s account is covered in videos highlighting outfits of the day, the latest TikTok trends, and the everyday life of a teen poised on the verge of greatness. One thing that stays consistent throughout his content is the joy, confidence, and good times in abundance radiating off the screen.
@zachwillmore I have never felt prettier than when I try on my mom’s dress #trending #wedding ♬ so this is love – soft girl aesthetic
@zachwillmore “It’s just a phase” #gay #pride #trending #xyzbca ♬ As It Was – Harry Styles
One look at Willmore’s account and you can tell that he doesn’t play around with his aesthetics. The teen queen’s makeup and outfits stay impeccable within each TikTok video. Willmore plans to put his affinity for fashion to use by studying fashion design in college.
But beyond creating stylish looks, Willmore also advocates for his fellow students to wear what they want. Along with several other students, Willmore created a draft of a new dress code for Rock Bridge High. Though he’s leaving soon, his legacy will help other queer students feel a little more comfortable expressing themselves in the future.
“I want to help people feel comfortable in their own skin with whatever clothing they wear over their skin so I really hope that by wearing a dress, I helped someone else wear what they wanted too”, Willmore explains.
Hopefully students at Rock Bridge High School now feel a bit freer to express themselves how they want: the school recently officially updated their dress code, all thanks to the work of students like Willmore. Of course, it’s all in a day’s work for a queen.
@zachwillmore #duet with @zachwillmore for anyone new I changed the dress code at my school:) #fyp #dance #gay #viral ♬ Tokyo – Leat’eq
Willmore’s win is indicative of changing perspectives, acceptance of diverse gender expression, and encouragement to be yourself. Now, future students at Rock Bridge High School continue Willmore’s legacy and make room for others to do the same.
“It showed that people actually did care about me,” Willmore said of his homecoming win. “It was the final stepping stone for me to be like ‘people like me.’ I feel happy.”
So do we.♦