Pride Prom creates a safe space for LGBTQ students

Partners Roman Gutierrez, senior computer science major, and Fel McCoy, senior studio art major, relax at the LGBTQ+ Coalition’s Out’er Space Pride Prom on April 21 in the Ludwick Center courtyard. The Pride Prom gave students the chance to mingle and dance in an all-inclusive and judgment-free environment to show their pride. / photo by Drake Ingram
Partners Roman Gutierrez, senior computer science major, and Fel McCoy, senior studio art major, relax at the LGBTQ+ Coalition’s Out’er Space Pride Prom on April 21 in the Ludwick Center courtyard. The Pride Prom gave students the chance to mingle and dance in an all-inclusive and judgment-free environment to show their pride. / photo by Drake Ingram

Robyn Jones
Staff Writer

The LGBTQ+ Coalition held an “Out’er Space” Pride Prom on April 21 in the Ludwick Center courtyard. It was their first in-person Pride Prom since the start of the pandemic.

LeoFM music director Joshua Dunn and general manager Shane Rodrigues hosted the event and played top 40 radio hits as about 24 people, including students and faculty, attended.

Outer space was the theme chosen for the club’s first Pride Prom two years ago, which got canceled when the campus shut down at the start of the pandemic in 2020. The club made the decision to bring this theme back to life in order to give it the chance to shine.

The event included a starry backdrop for photo shoots. Tables were set out for people to gather with refreshments like chips, candy and soda. Many guests wore semi-formal spring dresses and suits and ties.

Taylor Hagin, one of the founding members of the LGBTQ+ Coalition and now president, was happy with the way prom turned out.

“The club has been small and this is the most engagement we’ve had at an event for a long time,” Hagin, senior educational studies major, said. “We’ve been planning since January so we reached out to others who are big advocates for the LGBTQ+ community.”

The club worked for months to get the funding for decorations, reservation at the courtyard, a music source, refreshments and chaperones for the event.

Senior studio art major and club treasurer Fel McCoy was recognized by other members of the club for all the hard work and effort he put into prom.

“Our treasurer Fel McCoy really was a big part of putting this event together,” Hagin said.

McCoy’s partner, senior computer science major Roman Gutierrez, said he was excited and full of joy seeing attendees dressed up in semi-formal attire and seeing the work McCoy put in.

“We’re pretty much under staffed so he built all this by himself,” Gutierrez said. “He is a senior so he is graduating. This is a really big event for him.”

Having a prom for the members of the LGBTQ+ community was a big moment for many people. It allowed people to feel at home in a judgment-free zone.

McCoy said this event meant everything to him. As a transgender student in high school, he said his prom there was very disappointing. Coming to the University, he wanted to change that for himself and for everyone else that could not experience prom the way they wanted.

“Now to be able to provide this opportunity for the LGBTQ college students, to experience the night for themselves the way they wanted to, I also get a chance too,” McCoy said.

Taiz Ortega, sophomore biology major, carried a bisexual pride flag throughout the evening. Coming from a Hispanic background, she said coming out to her family was difficult to deal with because there were times when she felt alone due to unsupportive relatives.

“I know people have different opinions if there should be an event catering to us, but I think there’s so many people out there that don’t have the opportunity to be themselves,” Ortega said. “Having an event like this allows people to be who they are, and where I’m from you get people with good or bad reactions, so I just want to go to a place where I know I’ll have good reactions.”

Misty Levingston, associate director of the Center of Multicultural Services and Black student services, said she was fully on board for having the Pride Prom after hearing the immense support for the event.

“For me it is an opportunity to support all students who did or didn’t feel comfortable to go to their own prom, but this is an opportunity for them to celebrate in a space created for them,” Levingston said.

Robyn Jones can be reached at robyn.jones2@laverne.edu.

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Robyn Jones is a senior journalism major and sports editor for the Campus Times. She is also a member of Iota Delta and a freelance photographer whose work can be found on Instagram at @jnaisphotos.

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Drake Ingram, a junior criminology major and photography minor, is a staff photographer for the Campus Times.

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