May 14, 2006

Queer Prom Redux

I dragged my sorry rear end into the house at 1:00 a.m., tired and happy. And it was not even MY prom, for crying out loud.

I cannot say enough positive things about the HGLHC's Queer Prom, held last night at Charter Oak Cultural Center. Props to the Rainbow Room folks (and you know who you are) for a lot of hard work.

There were over 200 kids there. There was a diversity - races, cultures, classes, genders, identities. Goths and trans, butches and femmes. There was a remarkable representation from the suburban crowd (in Hartford, even). There was a DJ struggling to balance musical tastes (and mostly, succeeding, based on the screams of recognition at each new cut, and the packed dance floor) There was voguing, there was screaming as friends from across the state reunited, there were couples pairing up, holding hands, hanging out.

OK, true confession. I went to both my junior and senior proms - there are some fairly embarassing prom photos out there. I went with more or less convenient dates - unpaired friends from my social circles. Catholic school in the late 70's, we had no GLBT resources or recognition, and we queer kids (regardless of our self identification or self awareness at the time) either found someone convenient to go with or were left out. So while I spent some time at proms and high school dances, it was mostly as a spectator and an outsider - I had so little awareness of who I was or what I wanted, and whatever social roles and coupling opportunities were open to me felt stilted and awkward - like putting ones shoes on the wrong feet.

But the Queer Prom. Damn. Kids danced. They sat on the steps out front, talking. They hung out downstairs with the snacks and the art. They sat in the dark pews watching the merriment. The dance floor was packed and the rules were tossed - boys danced with boys, and with girls. Girls danced with girls, and boys. Gender was splashed all over the canvas - with a handful of obvious transkids, people on the butch / FTM boorderline, goth kids who were hitting androgyny hard. I watched a young butch woman in a suit and a fedora with a jaunty red feather get passed around (somewhat aggressively) by femme's vying for her attention.

I hung out with a few of my fellow mentors - all of us in some way wistfully thinking back to our own high school days, all of us watching our charges with pride and a little worry. These kids are so young and so vulnerable, yet so gloriously self aware and full of life. A good friend, R, was taking prom photos - she had a digital camera and a tripod, and all night, kids came up off the dance floor with a new friend or pack of friends, and posed. The kids can get a copy of the pictures for a couple of bucks at Rainbow Room. A keepsake that they can look back on when they are cynical and a little beaten down and wise and remember the glorious, passionate, beautiful kid they really are inside.

As I dropped MYA off at home last night, I watched her to the door. As she stepped inside, I could see her mom sitting on the couch, and I saw her break into a smile as her oldest child came home, safe and flushed with dancing and flirting. She had a cheap paper crown in her hand - how many transfolk will carry the memory of being named Prom Queen with them into adulthood? As I pulled away, tears came to my eyes - for one kid with a really hard and lonely life who had one night of joy. And as I write this, hours later, tears are flowing again - for the beauty that these kids are, for the future that they represent, for my own lost years, and for the privilege of being part of all this chaos and divine energy we call life.

Hey, HGLHC. You done good. Thanks.

1 comment:

Diana_CT said...

Hi Jude

I hope you don't mind that I quote you in my blog. I thought you made a comment worth repeating.

Diana