Out Iron Chef Cat Cora is making the news again, this time for her co-sponsorship of a gay-friendly prom (the "Second Chance Prom") next month in Mississippi.
The annual event is organized by the Mississippi Safe Schools Coalition, but this year it’s receiving added media attention because of the case of Constance McMillen, the high school senior who challenged her school district’s rule banning of same-sex dates at proms. The American Humanist Association will contribute $20,000 for the May 8 event in Tupelo, and out performer Lance Bass, also a co-sponsor, is one of several celebrities scheduled to attend.
We had a quick chat (via email) with the busy Cora about her involvement with the Mississippi prom and her other charitable efforts, including her trip this week to Haiti with her organization Chefs For Humanity
AfterEllen.com: We recently learned that you’re helping pay for the pay for a gay-friendly prom in Mississippi on May 8. How did that come about?
Cat Cora: I offered when I heard the story. I thought it was appalling that a whole senior prom was canceled because a girl wanted to bring someone she cared about to the prom. So I stepped up and offered my services. It comes right down to not being a civil rights issue, not a gay or straight issue.
AE: What was your reaction when you initially heard the Constance McMillen story? Were you shocked when you learned of her being sent to a "fake" prom?
CC: I thought it was the cruelest thing you could do to a person. It was shocking and just immature and hateful. If there were parents that were a part of that plan, then shame on them for setting an example like that for their children.
AE: How did being a Mississippi native inspire you to get involved?
CC: Being my home state, it was embarrassing and outrageous. I am always promoting Mississippi and will continue to do so. I am always talking about how far Mississippi has come over the years and what a great state it is. I still believe that, but there are some people who are not as up to speed.
AE: If you were a teenager today in Mississippi and attending the gay-friendly prom, what would you wear to it?
CC: I would wear a dress, but that is my personal preference. When I was a junior, I was actually dating a boy who was a senior and at that time tuxes on girls was the "in thing," so I wore a tux to his senior prom.
AE: You just returned from a trip to Haiti with Chefs for Humanity. What was that experience like for you?
CC: It was one of the most profound, sad, but at the same time inspiring, trips I have ever taken. There is still so much work to be done there, it is still a desperate situation and needs our full attention. There is a lot of work to be done and I plan on being a big part of it with my organization Chefs For Humanity.
AE: You prepared the menu for the Greek Independence Day celebration attended by President Obama and the Greek Prime Minister Papandreou. Any word on which of your dishes was the President’s favorite?
CC: He loved my dolmades, stuffed grape leaves, which we did with a truffle lemon sauce. The First Lady loved the lamb chops. I heard that they were raving about the food on the way to meet the Prime Minister of Greece.
Cat Cora’s new cookbook, Classics with a Twist, hits
stores in June. You can keep up with Cora via her website and on Twitter.