Kentucky residents defend ‘man pageant’

Supporters in Hazard held a rally Thursday for Hazard High principal Donald "Happy" Mobelini after a viral homecoming controversy drew national criticism.

HAZARD, Ky. — It was an event that once would have barely made news outside the school gymnasium, much less traveled beyond this 4,900-resident Appalachian mountain town.

But within hours of Hazard High School’s homecoming “Man Pageant,” where male students dressed in women’s undergarments appeared to lap-dance and grind on seated school leaders, the photos hit social media.

By the next day, they’d gone viral — sparking outrage that turned a derisive national spotlight on this tiny Kentucky community like never before.

Images that included principal Donald “Happy” Mobelini, who is also Hazard’s mayor, smiling while half-clad students danced suggestively — and young women dressed as Hooters waitresses — drew condemnation from legions of social media users. 

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear called it “totally unacceptable,” an investigation was launched and the resulting media coverage stretched all the way to a British tabloid. 

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