FRANKLIN, Tenn. (WKRN) — A viral video out of Franklin, Tennessee is gaining widespread support, and is now catching the eye of the celebrities like Kathy Griffin and Billy Porter.
The cell phone video which was taken Saturday and posted to several social media platforms. It shows a male high school senior being ridiculed for wearing a dress to prom.
“I very much view clothes as genderless,” said Dalton Stevens, a senior at Franklin High.
Stevens knew he wanted to make a statement for his senior year, so he decided on bold, formal attire.
“He did his big ‘prom-posal’ and asked me to prom,” said Jacob Geittman, Stevens’ boyfriend. “And he decided he was going to wear a dress, and I’m like okay! You’re going to look good in it!”
Stevens decided to wear a floor-length red dress.
“I was very confident,” Stevens said. “I knew that I felt beautiful, and I felt great.”
While Stevens and Geittman were at the Harpeth Hotel in downtown Franklin taking pictures, a man later identified as Sam Johnson, walked up to Stevens and ridiculed him for his attire.
“Slander terms thrown towards me of like ‘you look bad,’ ‘you’ve got hair on your chest, you shouldn’t be wearing a dress,’ ‘you’re not a man,’ blah, blah, blah,” Stevens explained. “The fact that he thought he had the audacity to come tell me what I was supposed to wear, and what I was supposed to do because of his standards.”
Johnson was the CEO of a local telemedicine company, VisuWell. On Monday evening, VisuWell terminated Johnson.
“You can have your thoughts and opinions, [but] keep them to yourself,” said Geittman. “You don’t need to go up to a teenager, in public, on their prom night, and publicly shame and harass them for what they decided to wear.”
Stevens wants to now raise awareness and challenge gender norms when it comes to clothing.
“I think clothing should just be taken as a piece of cloth and nothing more,” said Stevens. “Everybody should just wear what they want and shouldn’t be ashamed to wear anything because of societal standards.”
VisuWell released a statement on Twitter Monday night condemning Johnson and his remarks, saying in part, “We share the concerns that so many have expressed on this matter and look forward to announcing concrete steps we are taking in support of the LGBTQ community in particular over the coming weeks.”