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Annual Queer Prom creates inclusive space for LGBTQ+ students

Student drag performer Vanilla Bean runs a show for attendees at Queer Prom. Students also had the opportunity to take photos in a photo booth, drink mocktails and dance to music provided by a DJ at the “Euphoria”-themed event. (Kyle Kotanchek/Daily Bruin)

By Rio Wakura

March 31, 2022 2:35 p.m.

This post was updated April 3 at 10:01 p.m.

The Gender, Sexuality, and Society Living Learning Community held the annual Queer Prom at Covel Commons Grand Horizon Ballroom and Terrace on March 4.

The event was open to all students, and attendees were invited to dress up according to a theme based on the HBO show “Euphoria.” Organized by GSS staff, the event featured “Euphoria”-inspired purple decorations and lighting, as well as informational booths run by the UCLA LGBTQ Campus Resource Center and UCLA Sexperts, a student organization focused on promoting sex education. The prom also had a DJ, mocktails, a photo booth, a prom royalty election and a student drag performance.

Chloe Rosenstock, a third-year labor studies and sociology student and a GSS co-resident assistant, said she chose the “Euphoria” theme because of the show’s diverse set of characters, which allowed attendees to express themselves through their outfits.

“I think it gave people the freedom to dress however they wanted to. There was no specific narrative for what a character looks like,” Rosenstock said. “You have a lot of different representations of bodies and people in that show, and I think that was also part of why the theme worked really well for us.”

Sebastian Kai Woodson, a GSS intern and third-year psychology student, said that GSS sought to focus on welcoming LGBTQ+ students with specific elements such as an LGBTQ+ DJ. They played songs from artists often celebrated in the LGBTQ+ community, Woodson added.

A student in the GSS LLC, who requested to remain anonymous as they did not want their sexuality to be publicized, said they knew immediately that they wanted to attend the Queer Prom.

“When I saw (the flyers), I was like, ‘Oh, I’m going to go,’” the student said. “I knew I wanted to go regardless of if my roommates were (going) or not.”

The GSS student attendee said that Queer Prom felt different from their high school prom experience. They had a great time dancing and watching the drag show, the student added.

“This one was definitely a lot more enjoyable,” the student said. “I went to a Catholic high school, so it wasn’t very open in the same way – it felt like I had to dress differently.”

(Kyle Kotanchek/Daily Bruin)
A student winner of Queer Prom’s prom royalty election. The Gender, Sexuality, and Society Living Learning Community hosted the annual event March 4 in Covel Commons. All students were welcome to attend. (Kyle Kotanchek/Daily Bruin)

Shanaya Sidhu, a fourth-year human biology and society student who is also a GSS co-RA, said the highlight of the night was seeing people feel comfortable with their partners in public.

“They could bring their partners, especially from off campus, and bring them to a safe space and celebrate each other,” Sidhu said.

Rosenstock said she personally enjoyed the drag performance by performer Vanilla Bean the most, as it highlighted a form of art unique to the queer community.

Woodson said the staff hopes Queer Prom will help challenge the traditional high school prom experience.

“I look around, and I see so many queer people – queer people dancing, hugging,” Woodson said. “To have a space for specifically queer people to just feel like they’re not outsiders or outcasts and (are) cared about – that was really a goal for Queer Prom.”

Sidhu added that they felt very emotional about the student response after the prom.

“I cried when I got back to my room because it was just so beautiful to see everyone be so happy,” Sidhu said. “It’s meant so much to me to not only be an RA for this community but also plan this event.”

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Rio Wakura
Wakura is a features contributor. She is a second-year business economics student at UCLA
Wakura is a features contributor. She is a second-year business economics student at UCLA
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