To celebrate the fast-approaching end to the school year, Compass hosted its seventh annual Youth Equality Prom. This year's theme was “Galactic Gala.” Prom is one of the most sought-after events for the youth of Compass.
“The whole reason we started the prom was because we found out that one of the youth in the program was not allowed to go to prom in a tuxedo or with her same-sex partner,” Amanda Canete, Compass’ youth service director, said. “It’s amazing how much our prom has grown.”
Over 100 high school students from all over Palm Beach County showed up ready to dance the night away, decked out in everything from 3-piece glam-rock tuxedos, classic floor-length ball gowns, light-up skirts, and other space-themed accessories.
“I understand that people want to be their true authentic selves; sometimes it could be dangerous, that’s why Compass is so important,” said Elias Anderson, a trans male and recent graduate of A.W. Dreyfoos School of the Arts. “People can come and use Compass as an outlet … people can also come to prom and not worry about fitting in.”
Compass hosted many events throughout the year to sponsor the prom, so participants were not charged admission — and it’s been that way for the past seven years. Some of those fundraising efforts took place at Penny’s at the Duke’s annual chili cook-off, Cocktails for Compass, and the Great Give of Palm Beach and Martin Counties. Plans have already started for the theme and mood for next year.
Participants experienced the galactic theme with props like inflatable aliens, flashing lights, a gigantic space shuttle, and more. Outside organizations pitched in resources for the night — members of Haus of QUOTA donated several props to the prom, food and refreshments were provided by Whole Foods, and the DJ was sponsored by TD Bank.
Compass recruited local talent to entertain the young crowd — including performers like the Elite Drag Kings, drag queen Velvet Lenore, and members of Haus of QUOTA.
This was many people’s first appearance at the Youth Equality Prom — as it was for Pearls Anne Heels, a Haus of QUOTA member.
“I didn’t really attend my prom because I wasn’t really into those type of activities, I didn’t feel like I needed to be a part of it,” they said. “It felt great performing … in my drag persona. If I can say anything to someone that is struggling with being their true authentic stuff at prom, I’d say just go! Show up and show out!”
And for the people who weren’t new to the event, the night was something that families and youth were looking forward to.
“I think this event is fantastic — I came with my daughter last year. I'm glad that this event is happening, but I’m sorry that it has to happen,” said Pete Stewart, a health education specialist for the Palm Beach County school district.
“I hope that our schools are welcoming, and according to their policy, they should be,” Stewart said. “ … I think everybody should be welcomed at their prom, they should wear what they want, go with who they want to go with, and take pictures with whoever they want to take pictures with.”
Compass Youth Group is available for teens ages 12 to 18. For more information on how to donate or join, visit .