Guest blogger, Enrique, is a youth Board Member of Clackamas County’s The Living Room, a safe haven for LGBTQ youth in Clackamas County. The Living Room’s recent LGBTQ Prom was attended by over 120 LGBTQ and straight ally youth from all parts of Clackamas County, a rural community just outside of Portland, OR. Pride Foundation is proud to sponsor this important rite of passage for high school students from all parts of our community.
When I think of prom, lots of thoughts and ideas come to mind. A lot of those ideas are the clichéd images of heterosexual couples that go to prom, where the guy asks the girl in some grand gesture. Overall, prom in my mind is one of the larger ‘Coming-Of-Age’ events that high school students pass through. It’s the one night of the year that you can be as formal as you want and still have tons of fun dancing and being around friends. Being an LGBTQ youth, it’s a blessing to know that for my first prom, I can go with whomever I want – whether it is a friend or a date, a guy or a girl – without being questioned because of my sexuality. That comfort and excitement is what I think all students going to any dance should experience.
Prom is one of those coming of age events that brings me a little further in my high school experience. As an LGBTQ youth I should be able to go to prom like everybody else, even if my date is a member of the same sex. LGBTQ youths aren’t as openly invited to come to prom, which I think is totally absurd, it’s comforting to know that we have an alternative option to prom. Instead of putting ourselves at risk of having to put up with non-supportive classmates, we can go to the alternative prom where we can be in a comfortable and safe environment to experience prom like everyone else.
This choice of an alternative prom is a gift in which some don’t appreciate as much as others, but as I said “it’s a blessing”, to know that not only I, but also Clackamas County LGBTQ youth have the option of making that important rite of passage in their adolescence by experiencing prom in a safe, positive, and welcoming environment. With the deepest thanks and admiration to Pride Foundation and for those who present the option of Alternative prom to me and others, I thank you.
The Living Room programs are open to youth between the ages of 14 and 20. They currently offer weekly drop-in services in Oregon City, every Wednesday from 4:00 to 8:00 PM. In addition, they host events such as the Annual GSA Summit, Clackamas County Alternative Prom, and monthly Gay-Straight Alliance Meet-Ups.
To find out more about The Living Room or other Pride Foundation partnerships in Oregon contact Jett, Pride Foundation’s Regional Development Organizer in Oregon. Email Jett.