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Temple’s Come As You Are Prom Invites All Identities For Another Chance At Prom

  Traditional high-school prom: a night where ladies in expensive gowns and corsages dance the night into a dream with a date donning a suit. Sometimes these dances have rigid rules in regards to what to wear, who to bring or how to express one’s identity. For many, these traditions don’t allow one to be their real selves, including those who are LGBTQIA+.

   Giving everyone another chance at their prom night, Temple University’s Queer Student Union (QSU) and Queer People of Color (QPOC) co-hosted the second annual Come As You Are Prom on March 31st.

/All photos ny Rachel Wisniewski

/All photos ny Rachel Wisniewski

   Under the chandelier in the historic Mitten Hall on Temple’s Main Campus, about 100 prom-goers danced to the music with whomever and dressed however they pleased. Tradition didn’t hold back LGBTQIA+, straight and non-binary gendered individuals from expressing themselves openly or from wearing black polka-dotted socks with a soft-pink prom dress.

   Jennifer Lawrence, president of QSU, plans functions for National Coming Out Week as well as Come As You Are, the Rocky Horror Picture Show and other LGBTQIA+ oriented events at Temple. Coming from a Catholic high school, Lawrence claims organizing a more inclusive prom is near and dear to her heart.

   “[Planning Come As You Are] is a really, really rewarding experience,” Lawrence said. “It’s a second chance to relive it and do it right.”CAYAprom_002

   On one side of the hall, prom pictures were taken by a photographer. On the other side, Broad Street Caterers were serving chicken fingers, vegetable egg rolls and vegan cupcakes. “Come As You Are Prom” was written in six colors of icing to depict a rainbow on a cake.

   Signs reading “Gender Neutral” hung over two restroom doors. The first Come As you Are Prom was one of the first events to implement gender neutral bathrooms on Temple’s campus, which helped start a trend in the Temple community, according Lawrence.

  “Last year, it started that conversation and it’s the norm now for Temple events,” Lawrence said.CAYAprom_014

   Pepper Gardner, a member of QSU, didn’t go to her high-school prom. Gardner came to the event with her roommates and they danced and laughed among the rest of the attendees.

  “[Come As You Are] is a more inclusive environment,” Gardner said. “One that’s happy, safe and fun.”

   The event was open and free for everyone, not just Temple students, to attend. Word was spread within a group text-chat held between LGBTQIA+ communities and groups across the city, Lawrence claims. Attendees avoided forming cliques, helping to create a communal vibe.CAYAprom_013

   Sabra Anderson, secretary of QPOC, wore purple-gray lipstick which complemented her dress and the lavender table covers. Anderson told Spirit News that the day of prom coincided with Transgender Day of Visibility.

  “I joined [QPOC] for the community aspect,” Anderson said, sitting with members of QPOC and QSU.

   Through community, QPOC and QSU created a space in Mitten Hall that welcomed individuals of all identities. Memories and photos of prom are told and passed down from generation to generation, and it’s something everyone should experience right, according to Lawrence.CAYAprom_008

   “Prom is a rite of passage,” Lawrence said. “We’re giving a true prom experience where you can be your true self.”

  For more information about Temple’s Queer Student Union and Queer People of Color, take a visit to QSU’s and QPOC’s Facebook pages for more information on how to get involved.

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