Students and community members took out their partners and friends for a night of dancing and fun on Saturday, as Queer People of Color and Allies held its second-chance prom in the Student Activity Center‘s ballroom.
The prom — with a theme of “MasQUEERade” — is held annually, and is intended to provide a fun and social atmosphere for members of the LGBTQ community. Organizers say they want to provide an atmosphere more tolerant than the one at many Texas high school proms.
“It’s been going on for a pretty long time,” said Andra Steele, sociology sophomore and the organization’s finance co-director. “It gives the opportunity to people who identify within the queer community to bring their partner or their friend to prom, which wouldn’t easily happen for high schools that don’t allow queer couples to go to their own prom.”
Alexis S. Emperador, computer science junior and the organization’s director for operations, said she hoped MasQUEERade would help people like her friend from high school who was not allowed to take her date to prom.
“In the Valley, being queer was never really talked about ... but that just showed the sheer amount of homophobia that goes on in the Valley,” Emperador said. “We expect that there will be people from all over who weren’t able to take their partners to prom.”
Emperador said the Queer People of Color and Allies has a broader mission to push an agenda that falls through the cracks of colored people’s organizations and some gay rights groups.
“We want to make space for people who identify as queer and as a person of color,” Emperador said. “In the queer people of color agenda, we are focused ... on safe places for queer people of color to go.”
Emperador said last year, the prom had many attendees from Out Youth, an organization for LGBTQ youth in the Austin community. This year, there were about 100 attendees. They were invited to make masquerade masks, in line with the prom’s theme.
History senior Michael Ramsey, who attended the prom, said he was glad it provided a less strict environment than his high school did for its prom.
“I wasn’t allowed to dress in drag, and I wasn’t allowed to go with a guy. It was okay, but it wasn’t as fun as it could have been,” Ramsey said. “The regular prom is very like walking on egg shells. Even when you’re dancing, you don’t want to dance too effeminately.”
Correction: This article has been updated to show Miles Hutson, not Bobby Blanchard, wrote this report.