May Day 2019 included a female escort for the first time in the 99 years WLHS has had the annual tradition of the Maypole dance.
The first female escort, Matilda Frysinger, walked Maypole dancer, Rachel Dumas, to her dancing spot. “My friend, Rachel, didn’t really feel comfortable having a male escort, so I volunteered,” Frysinger said. Other Maypole escorts and dancers accepted Frysinger as an escort. “It’s pretty normal. There is only one [female escort] this year, I think it’s cool.” ASB Officer and Maypole escort, Ian Roane said.
Our interpretation of the symbolism of the maypole dance has changed over the years as it continues to be an annual tradition on May Day at WLHS. The maypole dance performed on our school’s annual May Day festivities originated from Germanic pagan rituals centered around fertility. Today students participate in the Maypole simply because it is a fun tradition at the school. “It’s just fun to be able to participate in May Day. [There being a female escort] doesn’t change anything, it’s all the same,” Ian Roane said.
Frysinger had more than one reason for agreeing to escort for the Maypole, “I am doing Maypole to support my friend and be her escort as well as representing the LGBTQ+ community.”
With 29% of teens in Oregon identifying as LGBTQ+, having a female escort another female in a dance performance like May Day’s Maypole is excellent representation. A female escorting another female shows that you don’t have to be escorted by a male. “I feel there is the pressure of the tradition of a boy to be an escort,” Dumas said. It validates that you can be with someone of the same sex. “We might do that [include female escorts] more in the future, it helps show the diversity of our school,” Roane said.
Frysinger was treated the same by the male escorts and admin during practices and by the audience on May Day. “Being a female escort is no different than being a male escort. I don’t get treated differently which is really great,” Frysinger said. “If someone feels more comfortable having a girl as their escort I hope that that is an option. I think it’s really great that they are including us this year.”
As the first to break tradition, Dumas hopes “there are more female escorts in the future. I want more girls to have that opportunity to have other girls to be their escorts. I think that it a big possibility that we will have boys dancing in the Maypole as well. I don’t know if we’re there yet but it can definitely happen in the future.”