Queer Prom is in town, and in the words of founders Vicki Cook and Jules Haydon Guaitamacchi, with it comes the promise of a chance to do it right, do it again, do it Queer AF.
For most of us, the opportunity to go back and redo our first prom experience is something that may dredge up memories of teenage awkwardness, terrible dress-sense and dance moves that would put Carlton from the Fresh Prince of Bel Air to shame.
But for many in the LGBTQIA+ community, alongside those memories sits the knowledge that, for various reasons, they may not have been able to go to prom as their true selves. A fact that both Vicki and Jules have made their mission to rectify, giving the community a chance to rewrite their history and have their prom all over again, in all its glittery glory. And there will be glitter.
The first time I met Jules and Vicki was on a Friday night, in the vibrant and buzzing Brighton pub theatre The Marlborough – a hidden treasure on the LGBTQIA+ scene that works tirelessly all year round to produce and support LGBTQIA+ events and performances.
A friend was visiting from the Big Smoke, gasping for some sea air and curious to see what the Brighton scene had to offer, a quick google brought us to ‘The Marley’. A welcoming and inclusive place that for many has become so much more than a pub, it is a home. And it was here, that I first learnt about Queer Prom.
As a part of the official Pride Party listings Queer Prom will being held on Fri 3 Aug at Patterns, on the Brighton seafront. There is no dress code; but it is an opportunity to wear the outfit your heart always desired.
As someone whose heart has always secretly desired the opportunity to wear a tux that Rick Astley would be proud of, the promise of a room filled without judgement and only acceptance, gives me more than a little relief, and dare I say it: joy.
Queer Prom is sponsored by Brighton Gin and will feature special guests Cambell, Howie, Brooke and Charlie from Channel 4’s Gender-quake, with performances from some of the very best acts on the Queer scene, including drag performers, national pole dancing champions and- I’m promised- a few more surprises in store too.
Winter Prom sold out earlier in the year with guests’ ages ranging from 18 to couples in their 60s and this Summer’s Rainbow Queer Prom promises to be the same, so book your tickets quickly!
“It was one of the most emotional and heartwarming experiences we’ve ever encountered.” Vicki and Jules say of the past prom, “People literally had the time of their lives. We met couples from all over the world who told us of their negative prom experiences and how it meant so much to be able re-write their history.”
Queer Prom is raising money for Mermaids, a charity who works closely with transgender children and their families, and the Rainbow Fund who put money into many of these projects and services.
48% of young trans people under the age of 26 are reported to have attempted suicide, and homophobic and transphobic bullying is still undoubtedly rife within our world, making charities such as these, invaluable.
Though Brighton is a hub of diversity, unfortunately safety is still an issue and the Queer Prom team have tackled it by hiring a double decker bus to take guests from the station to the venue. And for those nervous about travelling on their own, the team have organised volunteers, who will work in pairs, to escort guests from local pick up areas.
The need for this is heart-breaking. But it is a reality that, with the help of awareness raising events like Queer Prom, that one day I hope the LGBTQIA+ community will no longer have to face.
Queer Prom is an event that for many will mean the opportunity to redefine themselves and to be fully congruent with who they are, wherever they sit on the sexuality and gender spectrum. Vicki and Jules are not only helping to rewrite people’s childhood experiences but are investing in changing people’s future, and for me that means finding a Rick Astley tuxedo, stat.