USF’s first Gay Prom allowed members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Allied (LGBTQA) community to participate in a more accepting version of the traditional high school dance Monday night. For many, it was their first prom experience.
The event, hosted by the USF People Respecting Individual Diversity and Equality (P.R.I.D.E.) Alliance and the Office of Multicultural Affairs, was created to give LGBTQA students that were unable to attend their high school prom because of their sexual orientation a second chance, said P.R.I.D.E. Alliance President Kindell Workman. She said the P.R.I.D.E. Alliance plans on making the Gay Prom – which was open to people from “all walks of life to come enjoy a night of peace and tolerance” according to its Facebook page, an annual event.
Workman said that during her time on campus she has “found USF to be very open and friendly” toward the LGBTQA community.
‘This is one of those things we really need to do to,” she said, “because it doesn’t matter who you go with to prom.”
Attendees participated in typical prom events, such as superlatives, raffles, pictures and the crowning of a gender-neutral prom king and queen. The Tampa-Hillsborough Action Plan Inc. also set up a booth at the event to hand out contraceptives and pamphlets regarding safe sexual practices for all sexual orientations and walks of life.
Megan Pugh, a graduate student majoring in communications and the LGBTQA advisor for the Office of Multicultural Affairs, also attended the event and said it was important for her department to be involved.
“It is a way for our department to connect with the students,” she said,.”Hosting an event like this that is so inclusive and accepting of all, whether they are gay or lesbian. It is open to everyone and it’s a very good thing.”
Despite efforts, such as the Gay Prom, to promote tolerance, Pugh said she believes there are still stigmas associated with the LGBTQA community on campus.
“It is still fairly anti-gay in general,” she said.
Though the prom was “obviously, not an educational event,” Pugh said she hopes similar events will “provide (students) the space to learn” about the LGBTQA community.
“We were very lucky with this event, everyone has been very supportive,” Pugh said. “Everyone from the administration to the students has been very receptive.”