For most people, memories of their high school prom are happy ones: dancing to great music and sharing good times with friends.
But, like so many high schoolers’ experience, teens who were different or a threat to the status quo were often excluded from enjoying these times, either through official policies, family issues or social pressures.
A visionary Houstonian is working to eliminate the painful memories of their pasts, however:
Over the weekend, more than 200 members of the Bayou City’s LGBT community got the chance to create the prom memories they missed out on as high school students as adults.
This year’s theme of “Doing Our Way This Time Around” spoke to many of the attendees, who used to occasion to celebrate in the open the way they couldn’t in school.
Local businessman and organizer Leland Gray said he didn’t expect ticket sales to reach triple digits when he announced the big night.
After being forced to cut off sales at 250 tickets, he spoke of the importance the event provides to adults who felt they had to hide their true nature during an interview:
“When I was in high school, I knew I was gay,” Gray said, “But I had a girlfriend. My parents didn’t know. So I didn’t have that opportunity to go to prom as my true self and enjoy it.”
Houston Gay Prom featured a red carpet photo opportunity, including fashion commentary from local celebrities, as well as the traditional crowning of the prom “royals.”
Guests were allowed to wear any formal outfit fit for their needs, including everything from tuxedos and evening gowns, to full drag.
The night also included ceremonies recognizing many of the leaders of the Houston LGBT community.
Proceeds from the event went to the annual Hatch Youth Prom, which offers today’s youngsters the opportunity to have their own prom experience with the partner of their choosing in a safe environment.
Organizers hope this will be the first annual of many Gay Proms to come.