Reflecting on Our LGBTQ+ Inclusive Prom

“Two years ago while I was attending Youth Midwest Leadership School, they asked us to split up by our respective districts and talk about how we can accomplish more in our communities. After a bit of talking, I brought up how I wished I could go to prom. As a homeschooler, I never had the opportunity to go to any school dances. However lame they may seem to an average high schooler, I was interested. After I pointed this out, another youth asked, ‘Well, why can’t you just have one anyway?’

We planned how and where we could have it, our outreach, payment, and registration. I went home from that week feeling invincible. Even with all that energy, it still took me two years to accomplish [creating this prom]. If I hadn’t kept going when it seemed unlikely that we’d succeed, if adults in our church hadn’t provided time and supplies, we wouldn’t have done it.

All we needed were folks who would show up with some food and an open mind to support our youth. The people who did that? They were primarily new members of the church, attending for just a few weeks or months. I love this church with my whole heart. It’s an open and encouraging place to grow as a person and experience community, but that means I need my community to show up for me, to show up for all of our youth.

With the help of about six volunteers, we were able to have an amazing prom. I spent the day prior with my friends, talking about what we were wearing, how we would do our hair, and all of the silly little things so many of us miss out on just by being queer, LGBTQ+, or gender non-conforming youth. I helped my best friends pick clothing they felt truly fit their identity, and I myself got the opportunity to truly feel proud and open about my identity. We could dance, laugh, play games, have existential discussions, and we could feel safe. I am transgender, queer, and genderfluid, and I tend to be very openly out, but I still have to spend a lot of time thinking about my safety.

 “If I hold her hand in public, will we be in danger?”

“If I wear my trans pride on my sleeve, how likely is it that I’ll get spit on today?”

Decorations provided by Greg’s Our Place and English Ivy’s.

As much as we as a church talk about making LGBTQ+ people feel welcome, how much do we actually do about it? I stood up in our meeting about renovating the church about two years ago, and talked about how hard it is to not have a single gender-neutral bathroom [at All Souls], how far I have to go to find one, and how in my church I want to be able to use the restroom.

That changed this year when someone took initiative and said, ‘This really matters and we can do better.’ That person, our dear Membership Coordinator Allison Zafiratos, ordered signs for our bathrooms, started providing name tags with a place for pronouns, and just that small change made me feel so much more welcome and comfortable at All Souls. All we really need is a few people, a couple times a year, offering their help to make an event like All Souls Pride Prom work. So when we’re looking for you next year, will you be there to help us?” – Evan Cannon, All Souls Youth

All Souls will hold a pride service at 10:30am on June 2: “Unabashedly Here and Proud” The Black Power Movement ushered in an understanding that there was more than one way to be an American and prompted waves of movements where people publicly and proudly acclaimed multiple parts of their identities. This Sunday, we say, in the face of public and legal attempts to erase queer and trans identities in particular, queer, trans, and same-gender loving people are here and proud. Not only are we here, we deserve all the legal rights and recognition as people with inherent worth. Rev. Anastassia preaching, special music performed by the Indianapolis Men’s Chorus.

One Response to “Reflecting on Our LGBTQ+ Inclusive Prom

  1. Thank you for sharing this, Robert! And thank you, Evan, for taking us to task, when we fail to live up to our covenant with each other. You are both valued members of our community. I just want you to know that I will be there next year, to help with the All Souls Pride Prom. Love, Tom. PS Thank you Allison! You ROCK!

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