Prom. Graduation. After-parties. In movies, high school is often played up to be the glory years of youth, full of excitement, achievement and happily-ever-afters. But, for many teens, it is more a torturous time of peer pressure, bullying and hormones, not to mention intense stressors from diplomas to university applications. Students who identify as queer often have it even harder as has been famously publicized by the “It Gets Better Campaigns,” which have spread virally after Dan Savage’s initial launch in 2010.
Calgary, and especially the University of Calgary, has been on the forefront of not only pushing for safe spaces, advocacy and equal treatment of the LGBTQ community, but welcoming them with open arms. Examples include the growing number of events, arts, groups, and parades that not only support the community, but loudly cheer them on. Fortunately for Calgarians, one of the loudest and most open supporters of the LGBTQ community is none other than Calgary’s Mayor Naheed Nenshi.
While today the world may seem much more accepting, young people who identify as anything other than straight are still facing challenges and social limitations which many outsiders are unable to appreciate. Miscellaneous Youth is stepping up to bat for queer youth by putting on their second Queer Prom. The purpose: reclaim proms of high school graduates everywhere and give current high school seniors the chance to celebrate prom on their own terms by putting on the 2012 Queer Prom.
Prom organizer Justine Bonczek gushes over the significance of the event: “It is a night of reclamation and what it really comes down to, kind of reclaiming all those proms and all those graduation dances out there in the world where you couldn’t be yourself. You couldn’t wear what you wanted, you couldn’t bring who you wanted, you couldn’t be yourself. It is a night of reclaiming that and being able to celebrate your own achievements! You are celebrating a milestone of finally being an adult!”
Queer proms have been popping up all over North America in opposition to schools who restrict queer youth from bringing their same sex partners to prom. Calgary’s Queer Prom will not just be for current students, but for anyone who felt left out or robbed of a true high school graduation.
“It is not just for queer youth,” explains Bonczek. “We are targeting a huge part of the queer community. A lot of people who didn’t get to experience a queer prom are honestly over the age of 35 and older, so we are targeting a lot of those people, [as well as] an under-25 crowd and anyone who wants to come, and allies, absolutely!”
The event was held on June 23.
by Andrea LlewellynAB, Alberta, Featured