Big Girls, Don't Cry

The fight for the right to be fat, queer, and proud

Back at the Prom, Meire is about to announce the Prom King and Queen. People fish out their tickets, balancing long loops of them on their laps. When the winning numbers are called, they sort through their piles of paper, frantically shuffling. An awkward silence stretches on.

Finally, Bevin Bermingham, a bodacious blonde from Jersey City, comes up to claim her Prom Queen crown. As the crowd cheers, Bermingham gives a prim wave, and, moments later, in a strange coincidence, Bevin's real-life fiancé wins the title of Prom King to a smattering of applause. They are two of the handful of straight attendees at the Queer Prom. It's not a terribly radical way to end the evening—with a straight King and Queen—but the surprising turn does little to dampen the crowd's mood. Soon people are dancing again.

Eventually, Meleo-Erwin hopes, NOLOSE will expand beyond the existing conference and the prom. It already runs the annual Fat Girl Flea Market, a plus-size clothing sale at the Manhattan LGBT Center, and is hoping to do more parties. But Deb Malkin, who organizes the flea market, is skeptical that their community will ever become as prominent as that of the bears. "The commodification of bear culture is pretty brilliant," says Malkin, "but women just don't do it that way."

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