National Magazine Remembers Historic 1979 Sioux Falls Prom
It's a high school ritual that dates back to the 1920's in the United States - the high school prom.
The traditional end-of-the-school year dance has been immortalized in movies like 'Footloose,' 'Back to the Future,' 'Pretty in Pink,' and even 'Carrie,' and now a national publication is remembering a Sioux Falls prom from the late 1970's alongside those famous prom scenes.
Mother Jones magazine published 'A Brief, Checkered History of Prom in America' in its May/June issue. In the recap of memorable prom events over the past 90 years, the magazine includes a mention of a dance in May, 37 years ago, at Lincoln High School:
1979: Police in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, show up to protect the first openly gay couple in prom history. 'Many students came over and congratulated us,' one of the boys said, despite threats to 'tar and chicken feather' the pair.
That was the night 17-year old Lincoln senior Randy Rohl and his date, 20-year-old Grady Quinn, attended the dance at the Downtown Holiday Inn's Embassy Room, in front of the watchful eyes of the Sioux Falls police and local media, as well as several media outlets from around the country.
Among those covering the event was the Washington Post, which reported:
Camera lights ignited and reporters jumped to life as the two entered the Downtown Holiday Inn's Embassy Room, but the disruption was brief and largely ignored.
The two melted into the throng, indistinguishable in their boutonnieres and brightly colored tuxedos. The only special treatment they got was a lot of room on the dance floor.
The National Gay Task Force in New York said it was the first time in America that such a couple had been allowed to go to a prom.
After graduation, Rohl moved to Minneapolis to attend the University of Minnesota and later worked at the University of Minnesota Hospitals.
Rohl died from AIDS related complications, December 31, 1993.