So Excited for Prom ’09

Bonnie Owens is excited for Queer Prom 2009.

“Think of a prom, and think of really excited, really fun kids and you’ll have it — Kids being themselves and not being afraid, just dancing and partying and eating lots of food,” said Owens, the Youth Program Coordinator at the Utah Pride Center.

Excitement, after all, is the theme of Queer Prom 2009: So Excited. As its name implies, the annual dance allows gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and otherwise queer-identified youth age 14 to 20 to dance the night away alone or with friends, a date, or multiple dates of their choice without fear of discrimination because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Straight allies are also welcome.

“We consider allies an imp part of our community, so they’re not only welcome but encouraged to come,” said Owens.

On the night of April 18, the main hallway of the Salt Lake City Public Library, 210 E 400 S, will be transformed for the dance, with splashes of bold colors to offset the library’s high windows and ultra-modern design.

“We’re focusing on bold shapes and bright colors, it’s going to be very neon and bright with things like glow sticks,” said Owens.

Since its start, Queer Prom has drawn more and more attendees each year capping off at approximately 750-800 youth last year. Owens said she hopes to pack the library with 1,000 partiers this year. So far, she said the event has sold about one-tenth of their tickets.

“But historically with this event, 90 percent of sales are at the door,” she said, adding that tickets are cheaper if purchased before the day of the dance. Early bird tickets (which can be purchased at the Utah Pride Center, 361 N 300 W) are $5 while they are $10 at the door.

Along with food, fun and dancing, Queer Prom 2009 will feature a number of activities, including free HIV testing on the library’s lower floor and prom photographs, packages of which cost between $5 and $15. X96 DJ Portia Early will also emcee the evening, which will include a special performance by youth volunteers of a local HIV prevention program for gay and bisexual men. Owens would not give any further details except to say that attendees would be delighted.

On the day before Queer Prom, students across the nation will observe the Day of Silence, during which gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and allied youth remain silent throughout the day to draw attention to anti-gay and anti-transgender violence, discrimination and harassment in schools and society at large. Queer and allied youth are invited to attend Night of Noise at the Utah Pride Center where they can share their experiences of the day with like-minded youth. The night will include a vegan-friendly barbecue and other activities.

For more information about either event call Bonnie Owens at (801) 539-8800 x 22.

Queer Prom 2009 is a joint effort of the Utah Pride Center and the Tolerant Intelligent Network for Teens.

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