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Joy Abounds at Queer Prom

By Abby Lorch | March 27, 2023

Waves of blue and purple light danced across the walls. Green balloons, fluorescent and alien-shaped, bounced around the room. Laughter and conversation could be heard over the upbeat music. Students smiled brightly in their formal outfits. The Campus Center Ballroom glowed.

Students dance under a starry light display at Queer Prom.

Photo Credit: Abby Lorch / The ASP

Pride Alliance, in collaboration with Student Association’s Department of Gender and Sexuality Concerns, held its Queer Prom in Celestial City event on Tuesday night. Attendees enjoyed a night of music, dance and community connection under the stars.

After postponing Queer Prom due to weather concerns, organizers were excited to see the event come together. They worked eagerly – inflating balloons, hanging decorations and setting up tables – to ready the ballroom for attendees.

Mairead McElroy, SA’s Director of Gender and Sexuality Concerns, explained the event preparation process.

“From the SA perspective, it’s a lot of doing the nitty gritty stuff: making sure we have everything set up, making sure we have the DJ, doing that sort of connecting,” said McElroy, a senior studying Women’s, Gender and Sexuality studies, as well as Psychology. “I did a lot of that – working with Pride Alliance, making sure that whatever their vision is, we’re making it happen.”

According to Helen Li, president of Pride Alliance, the vision for the event was to create a positive prom experience for those who did not have one in high school.

“Our year, we didn’t get a prom of any sort,” said Li, a Queens native who graduated high school in 2020. “As Pride Alliance, we are one of the only safe spaces for queer folks on campus, so we wanted to host the event for all the folks that either didn’t get to go to prom because of COVID-19, or didn’t go to prom for other reasons, or just wanted to redo prom.”

Other Pride Alliance representatives echoed Li’s sentiments. Freshman Jed Pacheco, vice president of the organization, emphasized the importance of queer spaces on campus.

“It’s just a shared experience of love and community, and it’s queer in every sense of the word,” said Pacheco, a Sociology major from the Bronx. “I feel like when people hear the word queer, they just think about romantic love, but friendships in queer relationships are also very different from heterosexual friendships.”

The treasurer of Pride Alliance, Jalani Miller, agreed.

“This is a really impactful experience for me because I’ve only ever been in very straight environments, so to be hosting a queer prom specifically is an incredible experience. I’m really excited to see everybody come together and share this moment,” said Miller, a freshman Philosophy major from Brooklyn.

The festivities began around 9 p.m., delayed slightly by a fire drill. Some students hit the dance floor. Others took pictures with their friends in front of the starry decorations. Face paint and food were provided.

Several attendees expressed feelings of camaraderie and empowerment.

“[Queer Prom] means being yourself, being able to just dress up and go have a good time without any judgment. It means knowing you’re surrounded by people like you,” Lexie Armann, a freshman from Long Island, said.

Sydney Jones, a senior studying political science, shared similar thoughts.

“In middle school, I was very sheltered, and I wasn’t able to express the fact that I was bi,” Jones said. “Being here is really cool – being myself and getting to hang out with other friends who are also being themselves. Middle school me is crying right now.”

Many students simply enjoyed the opportunity to have fun and meet new people.

“I’ve been gay a long time, so it’s not a huge thing for me, but it’s a chance to hang out with my friends and see what other gay people exist here,” said Dan Lirosi, a freshman from Albany. “Technically, I’m a first-semester freshman, so I have not spoken to anyone except people I already knew. I want to make friends!”

Gabriel Quail, a sophomore history major from Syracuse, attended for the same reason.

“I’m just looking forward to having a good time and having a fun space to dance in with nice people,” Quail said.

As attendees danced the night away, event organizers conveyed optimism for the future of LGBTQ+ life on campus.

“I just hope everybody can realize that there are safe spaces for queer people, especially queer people of color. We just want to be a safe space. I really hope that people will show out and give our club some love as the years progress,” Miller said on behalf of Pride Alliance.

McElroy took pride in the success of Queer Prom. They also voiced excitement for projects on the horizon, including a meet and greet with queer elders and a queer-inclusive spiritual event.

“This idea developed over a long period of time, and I’m glad it’s working out like this, and I hope the other ideas we came up with still come to fruition,” McElroy said. “It’s going to be awesome.”


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