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LGBTQ students hold first ever Rainbow Prom

May 20, 2016   ·   0 Comments

By Peter Richardson

 

The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning (LGBTQ) community held the first ever “Gay in the Garden” Rainbow Prom last Friday evening at the Monora Pavilion.

The event was organized under the auspices of Dufferin Child and Family Services, by the members of their group for lesbian and gay youth and the group leader Kersty Franklin.

The event was well attended and participants enjoyed a sit down dinner before dancing the night away to the tunes of a local DJ.

For those with two left feet, there were two raffles, a scratch art competition, a non-permanent tattoo artist and a photo booth to keep the evening entertaining, while a non-alcoholic bar dispensed the evening’s no charge libations!

Attendees came from as far away as Everett and Caledon as well was from all over Mono, Orangeville and surrounding communities.

During the course of the evening, I had numerous conversations with various attendees about the event, their motivations for coming and also the group itself, which has been going on for 17 years and caters to individuals between 14 and 21 years of age and from every corner of the LGBTQ spectrum.

Most who I talked to said they felt the group was highly supportive and represented a family that they could not only relate to, but feel comfortable in.

As for their motivations for attending the prom, they varied, but primarily centred on it being a chance for them to attend a prom, where they were accepted as themselves and not be on the outside looking in, as well as showing support for others in their community.

They talked about feeling segregated in schools, openly ridiculed, marginalized and even becoming the objects of violent aggression because of their sexual orientation.

A common thread, best expressed by Eli Blacklock, the charismatic head of the organizing committee, was the frustration felt over constantly being looked upon as someone who was broken and in need of fixing.

She became a part of the Rainbow Prom, because “I’m gay as hell” and she wanted to be with others who, like her, were proud of who they were and wanted to enjoy an evening at an event often denied them in straight society.

When asked when they realized that they were gay, the answers ranged from as early as twelve to mid-high school years. The whole range of LGBTQ individuals was represented at prom, from the openly gay, like Eli and fellow committee member Hunter Milligan, to Eli’s sister Lindsay, who admitted to being straight, but bi-curious.

Through the generous support of the Astor Family Foundation, Dufferin Child and Family Services, the Stream B&B, Theatre Orangeville, Broadway Music and photographer Jim Waddington, the first annual Rainbow Prom was certainly a rousing success and a welcome respite from the day-to-day societal and community attitudes and frequently negative, perceptions for Dufferin’s lesbian and gay community.

All in attendance were generous with their praise of the event and its organizers and in particular the group organizer, Kersty Franklin.

The event is sure to be repeated next year and for many years after if this year’s reception was indicative of the support from the community at large and the LGBTQ community in Dufferin Caledon, in particular.

 

         

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