The weekend of May 21 will be a weekend of LGBT proms in South Florida. Both Broward and Miami-Dade Counties will host an LGBT prom, on Friday and Saturday respectively. For Miami it marks year 14, Broward however has not had one in ten years.
The importance of these events is readily apparent, given the aggressive reaction to North Carolina’s out teens Chase and Jordan, and Mississippi’s Constance McMillen who drew controversy from schools when they planned to bring same-sex dates.
Pridelines in Miami, and Sunserve in Fort Lauderdale provide the proms so that our youth can come enjoy an atmosphere more accepting than the traditional school-funded event. Victor Diaz-Herman, Executive Director of Pridelines Youth Services, has been with the organization for several years.
“This year’s event will be at Florida International University’s Biscayne Bay campus, on Saturday, May 22 from 7-11pm. Ages 14 through 24 are invited to attend, as it also offers a venue for college-age students to experience something unlike what they experienced in high school.”
Pridelines has confirmed the guest hosts, choreographers Glen Douglas Packard and Daniel Miagany. Glen, a contributing columnist to SFGN, has been featured on Brooke Knows Best, Brooke Hogan’s reality show. He’s worked with Michael Jackson and Brittney Spears. The theme for this year is a Night on Mount Olympus, a classical, Greek theme.
“Pridelines encourages our youth to feel comfortable, so if they want to come in a tux, come in a tux. If they want to wear a dress, wear a dress. If they want to play with the theme they can certainly come in a toga as long as they keep it cute and clean,” added Diaz-Herman. “Nothing inappropriate, please.”
While they have a venue, and hosts, Pridelines is still trying to work with a radio station to provide music. People who wish to attend can purchase tickets at pridelines.org, or at the door. Tickets are $20 per person, $30 per couple. The revenue benefits Pridelines.org.
Ricky Alvarado, is 18 years old, from Miami and will graduate from William H. Turner Technical Arts High School soon after the May 22 event.
“I’m a Youth Counsel Member, or YCM,” said Alvarado proudly, also involved in the 2009 prom. “As a YCM it is one of our responsibilities to plan the prom. Yet, it is the one we most enjoy because even though I’m still in high school I don’t get to plan a prom for everyone.”
Alvarado says he is not taking a date this year, but will attend with a group of friends. “The majority of friends I’m bringing are straight, but they want to experience a gay prom so, of course I want them to come.”
Mark Adler, Executive Director of Sunshine Social Services and SunServe is very happy to bring an LGBTQ prom back to Broward County after a ten year absence.
“The community has talked about doing another one for the last seven years. When we realized this is something the kids really want to do we grabbed the bull by horns.”
However, initial plans did not materialize. According to Adler: not wanting to disappoint the kids was a main concern.
Cheri Cummings, of Coconut Creek High School, is the school’s Gay Straight Alliance Advisor. She is also a physical education teacher who picked up the pieces when the original plans fell apart. Adler appropriately said that Cummings “picked up the broken pieces and ran with them.”
Cummings comes from a self-described, “long line of people trying to build a strong GSA in South Florida.”
“My uncle, was Roland Funk, who co-founded Safe Schools of South Florida with Robert Lupo. This year’s prom came about when one of my GSA presidents, Andrew Barrow, stood up and asked why we didn’t have a prom. He had a real concern, as a senior he wanted to set the tone for the younger students. Knowing Andrew’s passion, a colleague of mine just asked me to go with it. So I did. SunServe has worked with us in the past and they gladly donated space at the Sunshine Cathedral.”
Cummings also credits motivation to develop the prom to Terry Williams, with the Office of Preventions for Broward County. “Terry goes above and beyond to give kids in Broward a safe environment.”
In terms of being “inclusive” the event was first open only to GSA members. However, they have opened it up to anyone between the ages of 14 through 18 who wants to attend.
They expect about 200 students and 100 chaperones, to make sure that everyone is safe, and respected when arriving and leaving the prom. Tickets are available through campus GSA chapters and online.
The Broward prom will take place on Friday May 21, from 7 to 11pm, on the campus of the Sunshine Cathedral in Fort Lauderdale. The theme is Alice in Wonderland: the Inclusive Rave. The event is co-sponsored by SunServe and Safe Schools South Florida. Tickets are $40 per person.
Advance ticket sales will benefit the event itself, and the kids, through advance ticket sales. The prom committee promises a dance contest, prizes, and lots of fun. They will crown a king and queen. Those who wear the crown will be chosen regardless of gender.
For Andrew Barrow though, a senior at Boyd Anderson High School, and president of his GSA the event will foster the welfare of his peers. It was Barrow who stood and asked “where is our prom?”
“I looked at it as we’re trying to be comfortable with our sexuality. So we need an event where we don’t have to feel like outcasts. I am glad it’s come together because now we can stand and let people know we’re here and we have equal rights to come to the prom like everyone else,” Barrow said. “Just talking about it I have a big smile on my face. I am so excited!”
When asked about his outfit for the event he informed SFGN that his father is helping him pull together a casual version of a tuxedo. “My parents are very supportive of me. I wish everyone’s parents were as supportive,” he added.