Last year’s conflicts in the Bitterroot Valley over LGBTQ+ issues has resulted in the first-ever Queer Prom being organized for this April.
Organizers are hosting two nights of prom. Friday, April 22 is for adults and is open to anyone on the LGBTQ+ spectrum and any ally. Saturday, April 23 is for teens. It will take place at the Missoula County Fairgrounds Commercial Building from 7 to 10 p.m. Organizers hope to provide a safe place for everyone to be their authentic selves.
Bitterroot resident Kelsey Tha crafted the idea after witnessing some community members reject a rainbow crosswalk in Hamilton last summer and try to shut down a Gay Straight Alliance at Florence-Carlton School. Tha empathized with LGBTQ+ teens who were hurt by these events and knew as an ally she could provide hope.
“It broke my heart to see the aggressive hatred and animosity toward children for just trying to exist,” Tha, of Hamilton, said. “I know the depression and suicide rate in Montana is high, and I know mental healthcare is severely lacking. Prom gives teens something to look forward to and lets them know we are happy they are here, happy they are alive, and we want them to succeed.”
Tha quickly partnered with like-minded community members and Western Montana LGBTQ+ Community Center (known as The Center). Businesses stepped forward to provide DJ services, raffle items, monetary donations and even clothes. The dress code is simply “wear whatever makes you feel confident!” Lady Baltimore, a fashion outfitter with the tagline, “You are a work of art. Dress accordingly,” is offering to help design a look for prom to any teen who needs it for free.
Prom will also feature a photobooth, snacks and drinks, and, of course, dancing! Legacy Lounge, a teen dance club and hang out located on Missoula’s Hip Strip, will be spinning beats. With raffle items from retailers across Western Montana, organizers hope to raise money for The Center and future events.
Organizers are still looking for donations. To register, visit eventbrite.co.uk/e/queer-prom-2022-tickets-269953216337 or email [email protected] Attendees must register in order to be admitted.
Donate to The Center at gaymontana.org/donate (put Queer Prom)
On Facebook: facebook.com/wgmlcc
On Instagram: @lgbtmontana