PRIDE! Kent hosts first prom for LGBTQ community

Alec Slovenec

On Friday evening, PRIDE! Kent hosted a prom for members of the LGBTQ community.

The event was held in Room 306 of the Student Center and lasted from 6 to 9 p.m.

Members decorated with several rainbow flags, flashy lights and featured a DJ at the event. Free pizza, wings, vegetables and soft drinks were provided for attendants.

Gabrielle Gooch Cooper, a senior human development and family studies major, coordinated the prom. Cooper is the president of PRIDE! Kent and said she was happy to put together the event.

Cooper has been a member of PRIDE! Kent since 2014. Cooper said that a huge part of having a PRIDE! prom was because many of Kent’s LGBTQ students lost their chance to go to prom because of their sexuality. This is a way for them to experience what they couldn’t before.

“We weren’t always allowed to go to prom,” Cooper said. “Some people weren’t allowed to go to prom and take their partner. So this is a space where we can come and bring our partner, and we can kiss our partner without being looked at as disgusting and things like that. We can have fun with other queer people, and we won’t be looked at as abnormal by other people. I think that’s a big deal for us.”

Willow Smith, an ecology and field biology major, was sporting a tie, a button-down shirt and suspenders. Smith felt comfortable at the event.

“It provides a nice place for people who may not feel super accepted within maybe their family or friend group or out in public to come and be themselves,” Smith said. “I know that I personally — right now, how I’m dressed — I don’t dress on a daily basis like this, because my parents aren’t accepting of it. But at these events, I feel very comfortable, very welcomed.”

Crystal Chan, a sophomore digital sciences major, attended the event and said that she supported the LGBTQ community’s events. Chan said that it was a nice way to decompress from a busy time in school.

“I need something to focus on besides finals right now,” Chan said.

Joseph Zevnik, a senior theatre studies major, was the DJ for the prom. Zevnik had been to multiple proms before, but had always felt that it wasn’t where he wanted to be.

“I think this really gives an opportunity for everyone to have the prom they really want, or that they imagined doing, which is really great,” Zevnik said. “So I think that’s what this was all about.”

This was the first time Kent State hosted a PRIDE! prom. Last year, many members of Kent State’s LGBTQ community attended the University of Akron’s prom, but felt that they could put on their own.

Cooper said that the PRIDE! Kent prom was not exclusive to LGBTQ students. Heterosexual supporters of PRIDE! were also welcome and encouraged to attend the event.

“These events aren’t just for the LGBTQ community,” Cooper said. “Allies are always welcome to come to events and everything. We actually need them in our community because they have a voice as heterosexual people that we may not have. So allies take our voice and they amplify it — instead of speaking for us, they speak with us.”

Alec Slovenec is the university diversity reporter, contact him at [email protected]