Jack Lodge, 16, arrived at the Sedgefield Community College for the end-of-year prom in a floor-length red dress. He was helped with his hair and makeup by his mother and sister
A schoolboy went to his prom dressed in drag to stand up to bullies who targeted him for being gay.
Jack Lodge, 16, arrived at the Sedgefield Community College in a floor-length red dress and was helped with his hair and makeup by his mother and sister.
The student, from Trimdon, County Durham, also wanted to raise money for his favourite teacher, Sandra Lee, his head of year at the school who had recently been diagnosed with cancer.
Jack said Mrs Lee was someone he could go to for advice and support, which had a positive impact on his time at the college.
He said: ‘I also wanted to raise awareness of discrimination towards the LGBT+ community which still goes on today.
‘Me and my friends have faced bullies before who targeted us because of how we identify.
‘I wanted to stand up and let bullies know they won’t keep us down and put an end to this behaviour.
‘I think it’s really important to raise money for the cause because it will go towards helping people like my teacher.
‘Everyone at the school was really supportive and brilliant – I got so many compliments from people for my dress and I enjoyed it.
The student, from Trimdon, County Durham, wanted to stand up to homophobic bullies at the school, and also raised money for his favourite teacher, Sandra Lee, who had recently been diagnosed with cancer.
‘I would definitely consider doing drag again in the future even though it was scary because it was the first time.
‘When I decided to raise money I thought this would be the best way to do it.’ In what could be a case of life imitating art, Jack’s experience at school is mirrored in a 2017 theatrical production, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, which was subsequently turned into a documentary for the BBC.
It was first performed in 2017 at the Crucible theatre, in Sheffield, but has since moved to the Apollo theatre in London’s West End and has received five Olivier Award nominations.
Stylish transformation: Jack Lodge (left, wearing school uniform) drove to the prom in a limo with friend Rebecca Thompson
In it, Jamie a 15-year-old school pupil is bullied after he tells his class he wants to be a drag queen when he grows up.
It culminates in Jamie, who is the subject of homophobic abuse throughout the play, attending his school’s prom in a white dress. When the teachers initially deny Jamie access to the prom, his classmates cheer his name until they relent.
The teenager’s mother, Samantha Lodge, said: ‘Jack said he wanted to do something different and he wanted to raise money for charity. He said he wanted to go as a drag queen.
‘He is homosexual himself and he has been bullied a lot. He wanted to stand up for the LGBT community.
Jack has now left the college since he completed his GCSEs and is waiting to receive his results. He has planned to attend Middlesbrough College to study art and design to build a career in the industry. Pictured: Jack (left), with friend Nathan (centre) and teacher Mr Peachy (right)
‘I was shocked but I support him no matter what. I was so proud of him for raising money for charity.
‘I am so proud of Jack for doing this as he is quite shy and has never dressed in drag before.
‘Jack is hoping that people send money and donate to these great causes.
‘All of us have known people who have lost their battle with cancer or are fighting the disease.
‘In the past we have lost family members and friends and now an excellent teacher is fighting for her life because of this disease.’
Jack has now left the college since he completed his GCSEs and is waiting to receive his results.
He has planned to attend Middlesbrough College to study art and design to build a career in the industry.
Jack Lodge said: ‘I almost chickened out. I was absolutely terrified. But the reaction I had was amazing. Everyone was so positive.
‘I got mistaken for a girl about seven times. People were saying, “Who’s she?”
‘I absolutely loved the experience. I felt unbreakable. I will definitely do it again.
‘I am really glad I managed to raise some money at the same time.’