Youth from last year's Alternative Prom. Courtesy of ROSMY.
Tonight, some GLBTQ youth and their allies around the city will be spending “A Night in Paris.” The second annual Alternative Prom hosted by ROSMY at First Unitarian Universalist Church provides just that – an alternative to the traditional high school prom.
“It gives those kids the chance who do identify as GLBT not to have to deal with the ridicule they might face at their regular high school prom,” Ashley Mitchell, ROSMY Youth Programs Coordinator said. “For example, we’ve heard of a couple schools that won’t let the girls wear tuxes.”
The evening is open to anyone that is GLBTQ or an ally – Mitchell said the key focus of the event is “respect” and providing the kids a good time.
Students ages 14-20 in ROSMY’s Youth Engaged in Leadership (YEL) program have been planning the evening’s festivities, but don’t expect your typical prom court.
“There will be a dance, a DJ and a surprise guest,” Mitchell said. “We’re trying to shy away from that pedestal popularity contest. We’re all equal.”
According to Mitchell and ROSMY Executive Director John Dougherty, GLBTQ youth still face challenges when they want to bring a partner or significant other to the prom.
Dougherty said private schools tend to be more accepting and is hopeful that ROSMY and their Institute for Equality, which teaches adults to work with sexual minority youth, can help reach out to educators. But sometimes, the work still needs to be done at home.
Recently the organization worked with a girl who was kicked out of her house for wanting to take another girl to the prom because her family did not want her to be perceived as homosexual.
“It’s still not the social norm,” Dougherty said. “The Alternative Prom is one way to address that. We don’t want to tell the kids to take those risks. That’s why we have our Institute for Equality. We want the kids to enjoy their night.”
An Evening in Paris: Love Knows No Gender is tonight, Saturday May 9 2009 from 8 p.m. to Midnight at First Unitarian Universalist Church, 1000 Blanton Avenue, Richmond. Tickets can be purchased for $5 at the door or online at www.rosmy.org.