Say goodbye to your awkward prom pictures and memories of the ‘best night of high school’ that, let’s be honest, was probably far from it. Alliance’s Pride Prom, which took place this year on Feb. 19, rewrites the narrative, focusing on bringing the fancy dance experience without the social stigma of being openly queer in a primarily straight space.
“The whole idea behind it is [that] queer people didn't get to have a full or a good prom experience. There are some schools that ban same sex couples from attending prom, there are trans people who didn't get to dress the way they wanted to for prom,” said DeMira Hunter, co-president of Alliance. “We really just wanted to create a place where everybody could feel safe and free in their identity and have that kind of experience … That's why we emphasize that there's no dress code so everybody can just feel safe and comfy and whatever they want.”
The event, which is open to all members of the LGBTQ+ community, as well as allies, has been a longstanding success for Alliance. This year’s theme? Gay.
“The last couple years, we've just pretty much had gay as the theme. We're just trying to make it fun and rainbow and happy. In terms of food, we kind of just try to find some munchie things, like we had chips and salsa this year and some beverages and stuff like that. We just kind of tried to make it gay. We had a bunch of balloons and stuff. Last year we had a balloon arch, which was fun,” Hunter said.
The Pride Prom attracted a large audience, including both Valpo students and members of the larger community.
“Our turnout was much better than we expected. In our online form, we had 47 people. At the actual event we had probably close to 60. As opposed to other years, it was consistent. So people weren't coming for a little bit and then leaving,” Hunter said. “People were staying for a really long time which we were really excited about. We had a really good turnout and we were really happy with the results.”
The Pride Prom has taken advantage of its relaxed, casual atmosphere in order to implement new activities.
“This year something we just started is that somebody requested a Just Dance song. We were intermittent like, ‘oh, we'll do a couple Just Dance songs so everybody can dance along and have fun.’ That was something new this year that we did that we hope to continue because that was really fun and it seemed to get a lot of people really excited and on the floor,” Hunter said.
While the event is fun and lighthearted, Alliance stands as a shoulder for all LGBTQ+ students experiencing struggles or discrimination.
“We really emphasize making sure everyone feels heard. If there are issues on campus that people feel comfortable bringing to us and being like ‘hi, we don't like how this is functioning.’ We really do emphasize that we are open, like please come to us with any problems and we have our meetings in that space [Loke Hall] that they made for us to feel safe,” Hunter said. “… If we are having a more intense meeting, we try to be like ‘oh, this is gonna involve X content warning’ or something. So we do try to make sure that people know what we're doing so that they don't feel bombarded or caught off guard.”
Hunter’s involvement with Alliance began early in her Valpo experience. Her love for the organization has grown into serving as a member of its executive board.
“When I first applied to VU, I wanted to see if there was an LGBTQ plus organization. When I saw that there was and that they weren't like, off in the corner and they were actually something that was involved on campus, I was really excited. I pretty much joined right out of the gate, I went to every meeting. About halfway through my first semester at VU our former president was like, ‘hey, I think you have really strong leadership qualities. Would you be interested next semester in [joining] e-board?’ I started as Activities Coordinator last year in spring, and then I was elected president this year with my other co-president … I really love doing it. I really do love this organization. I fell in love with it immediately, as soon as I joined,” Hunter said.
The opportunity to connect with others and create new experiences is a central goal of Alliance as an organization. The group offers a variety of events to keep members and those interested in joining engaged.
“We have general meetings every Monday from 7:30-8:30 p.m. in Loke Hall, which is the new Brave Space building for OMP. We are starting weekend hangouts this semester. Typically on Saturdays at various times, one of our board members will be like, ‘come watch a TV show, come play video games.’ … In terms of bigger events, our drag show is on April 15, from 7-10 p.m. We do have a couple student performers with that, so we've had people get involved that way,” Hunter said. “We also have an activities committee that meets from 6-7 p.m. on Fridays, to help plan events and our bigger events and even our general meetings and stuff like that. So that's how people can get involved. We absolutely love when people come to our events. We would love for more people to come. We try to make it super safe and open and fun.”
Whether you attended high school prom or not, Alliance’s Pride Prom seeks to build new memories and provide belonging.
“It really does create a sense of community. We have a lot of fun and it's for people especially who can't come to our regular or general meetings because they have a class or something. It's something important so that they don't feel left out of the community,” Hunter said. “It's also important not just because it does get to like, not rewrite people's past experiences with their part like their high school proms, but it really does give people that space to enjoy something they might not have been able to enjoy in high school.”
Those interested should contact the student organization at email@example.com. To stay updated on their upcoming events, follow @valpoalliance on Instagram.
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