Teenager makes history as Orlando's first transgender homecoming queen

For 17-year-old Evan Bialosuknia, winning the crown of homecoming queen was more than a simple award. It meant being accepted, even celebrated, for who she truly is.


Sharing her journey in an interview with WESH2, Evan revealed she had only begun her transition a few months ago. But for her, it was the obvious choice. "Looking back it doesn't even feel like that's me," she said. "I played football for like six to eight years and I remember during practices I would stare at the cheerleaders because I wanted to be with them."

Evan didn't quite know what to expect when she decided to run for homecoming queen. Despite having the love and support from her family, the teenager was afraid to be seen as a joke. And yet, she still desired to have "a moment of glory."

And indeed her glorious moment arrived, as she received not only the coveted crown, but an outpouring of encouragement from her fellow students. Including the school's nominated homecoming king, who, according to Evan, "made me feel like any other girl." More so than the thrill of a win and excitement of applause, the real gift, according to Bialosuknia, was the welcome embrace from her community. As she put it, "It just made me realize I was not alone and don't have to go through this alone."

Evan proudly posted pictures of her win on Instagram. And it's a collective victory for LGBTQ teens everywhere.

For transgender teens that are still suffering against discrimination, stories like Evan's help provide comfort against the struggle.

And hers is not the only story like this. There is an increasing number of students challenging the status quo of homecoming tradition, including the election of gay prom kings and queens, as well as some schools doing away with gendered homecoming titles altogether. And most reassuring of all, nearly half of the entire Gen Z population openly support gay marriage, with one in six Gen Z'ers publicly identifying as something other than heterosexual. Though there is still much progress to be made in the name of inclusion, this data does tell us one thing: no one is alone.

The crowning achievement marked a brighter outlook for Evan's future. Though she noted that "more change is coming," she will always have this memory to look back on, to remind her that she belongs. Exactly as she is.

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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."