By Susan Payne
Beyond the suits, dresses, jackets, dancing and crown royalty was a prom made safe by Santa Monica High School’s Gender and Sexuality Alliance.
Pride and lesbian, asexual and trans flags were decorated fixtures at the Welcome to Queer Prom, allowing high school teens to dance to Lady Gaga, Lorde and Harry Styles, in a place they feel safe and welcome, according to a report from KCRW.
Two students from the San Gabriel Valley, Bo Ryan and Morgan Lind, traveled to Santa Monica for the festivities.
Queer prom is the equivalent of an official prom — suits, dresses, jean jackets, dancing and crown royalty — but with decorative pride and lesbian, asexual and trans flags in a welcoming, safe environment. Queer proms have become a safe space where they can show up and truly be themselves without fear, Ryan told KCRW.
“When you’re in public, you’re cautious going to the bathroom. Even when I’m in safe spaces, going into the men’s restroom — it’s always like you keep your guard up,” Ryan said. “These types of events are good because it is a moment where you can let go of that caution. You don’t have to have that fear that you keep with you. That can just go away for a little bit. Nobody is going to dehumanize you for your identity.”
Chair of the Santa Monica High School GSA, Leo Patel, said he attended the official high school prom a few weeks ago, but the experience didn’t feel the same.
Spaces like queer prom are still important, Patel said, regardless of more acceptance in the world for the LGBTQ community.
“A lot of people nowadays are like, ‘Well, why can’t they just go to the normal prom? It’s California. It’s not a big deal.’ And I feel like at my prom, at my school, especially if you are homophobic, you’d be the one being bullied, which is great. But I feel there’s also this environment where it’s like, people aren’t judging you for being gay. They’re judging you for being different.”