Compass, Inc., the gay and lesbian community center of Lake Worth and Palm Beach County, held its inaugural Masquerade Prom at the Center in downtown Lake Worth on Friday.
“More than 130 teens from eight schools pre-registered for the event but as the evening wore on it became apparent that many of the youth brought friends,” said Ryanmarie Rice, Compass Youth Coordinator. “But it’s all good. There’s plenty for everyone.”
Julie Seaver, Chief Operations Officer at the center said, “This is such an amazing gathering of young people at the gay center. We have members of the Compass Youth Group, school-based gay/straight alliance club members and young people from the Wyman Teen Outreach Project (TOP) that Compass coordinates under the auspices of Planned Parenthood of Palm Beach and the Treasure Coast.”
“A lot of these teens are straight,” said Julia Murphy, TOP Coordinator at Compass. “This is the first time they’ve been in a gay center and guests of a gay group. The experience will be with them for years to come.”
According to one of the gay youth who asked not to be named, “We had originally planned to have a gay prom just for gay kids but when we started planning the event we decided to invite other kids as well. This is actually better.”
The Compass Youth Group had raised money at the March PrideFest for the gay prom. Compass chipped in and turned to several supporters who volunteered a variety of resources, including their own time.
Virginia Sinicki from WILD 95.5 was the volunteer emcee and published several tweets as the festivities continued. DJ Josh also joined the festivities for the young people. Photographer Michael Cushman took complimentary portraits of couples and singles, and Hullabaloo restaurant donated pizzas.
Justin & Greg’s Beauty Suite provided gifts and co-owner Justin Lynch responded to a question about why he was involved by saying, “It’s all about the kids. Really. I love what Compass does for our gay youth and I want to participate so I get involved whenever I can.”
Debbie Frazier, President of United Straight and gay Alliance, was directing young people to the registration table and expressed her support for the program, saying, “It doesn’t matter who helps whom. What counts is that we all help each other and this prom expresses that belief.”
Additional entertainment was provided by drag shows with Melissa St. John and Roxi Devine, followed by Aiden Blue and Mr. Collins, drag kings.
Michael Woods, a Compass board member and special education teacher in the Palm Beach School District also attended as did Compass President and CEO Tony Plakas with his husband, Jamie Todd Foreman.
“Isn’t this incredible? We’re officially 25 years old on Sunday and here we are hosting a prom for youth of all kinds – gay, straight, bi, transgender, white, black Hispanic. It’s amazing,” Plakas told SFGN. “We hope all of these young people will join us at the end of June for our annual Stonewall Ball Black and White Party at the Harriet and our official anniversary celebration.”