There is at least one prom scene in every mainstream teenage film, but it’s hardly ever a joyful one.
Whether the characters struggle to fit in with their classmates or have a hard time coming to terms with their own identity, their prom memories are usually far from being glorious.
Identifying as LGBTI could make the experience even worse. According to Stonewall UK, nearly half of lesbian, gay, bi and trans students are bullied at school (45%). It is easy to see how prom can quickly turn into a heteronormative, alienating event for many of them.
However difficult, a high school ball is still a rite of passage. Queer Prom: Rainbow Ball in Brighton aims to dispel all ghosts of proms past. Furthermore, it might give a second chance to those who missed their high school dance.
Brighton Queer Prom: Rainbow Ball is on 3 August
Vicki Cook came up with the idea of a queer ball in 2014. At the time, it was a ‘much more low key, DIY event’.
‘I was talking to some friends about our negative experiences at our school leavers dance or our high school proms. Someone mentioned that it would be great to have a queer prom and be able to redo our experiences,’ Cook told Gay Star News.
The concept was picked up again in January 2018 by Cook and her partner Jules Haydon Guaitamacchi. The couple organized a Winter Queer Prom wanting to rewrite the high school ball experience and create a safe space for all. The event was so successful they decided to throw another queer ball to kick off Brighton Pride (3 -5 August).
One of the official Pride parties, the ball will have the same theme as Brighton Pride, Colors of the World. It will take place on Friday 3 August, from 7pm till late. The chosen venue is Patterns, a scenic club overlooking Brighton seafront.
There is no age limit, although you need to be 18+ as it’s an alcohol licensed premises. And there’s no dress code: sporting whatever outfit they want, attendees are expected to range from 18 to 60+ year old.
Ambassadors and performers
The event’s main sponsors Brighton Gin, along with ambassadors Cambell, Howie, Brooke, and Charlie from the two-part TV series Genderquake, will host a gin punch reception, meet and greet on the venue’s beautiful terrace called Ginderquake before taking the party inside for speeches by our main charity and the Genderquake Ambassadors. There will also be alcohol-free punch for non-drinkers.
LGBTI performers include drag kings and queens, national champion pole dancers and a few surprises, including a Britney Spears drag performer.
Queer Prom rewrites history
The organizers also shared their own high school memories.
Vicki said she ‘went to prom but not before being forced into a long dress, heels, a spray tan and a Debenhams makeover’.
‘I spent the entire night feeling so alienated and invisible. I […] was totally oblivious to what a queerdo I was,’ she also added.
Jules opened up about struggling with mental health issues at the time.
‘When I was 18 I […] had a really difficult time. I was unaware that I was trans and just felt like I didn’t fit in with anyone. I didn’t even consider attending my prom. So my first prom was in 2018 at the Winter Queer Prom. I was two months on testosterone, I wore a suit and attended with the person I loved.’
An inspirational event
‘We met couples from all over the world who told us of their experiences and how it meant so much to be able to re-write history. It was an incredibly emotional experience,’ the organizers said.
‘At Queer Prom, Ryan and I got to relive our prom nights with each other. We got dressed up in our fabulous suits, got each other boutonnieres, and slow danced with each other to cheesy songs. I got to experience everything, as a shy awkward 17-year old gay teen in 2005, I so desperately wished for,’ said David Kim, who attended last January’s ball.
‘I had a fantastic time and would like to thank the lovely organizers for creating such an inspirational event.’
Queer Prom: Rainbow Ball is a non-profit event raising money for Mermaids, the LGBTQ Disability project, and local charitable services. Book your tickets here.
If you can’t make it to Brighton, fear not as a Queer Prom might come to London this fall.