Watching this week’s Glee reminded many of us of our own proms. Some of us didn’t know we were queer in high school. Some of us weren’t quite ready to come out. Some of us were out and proud lusting after our best friends. Some of us — *cough* Bridget and Drummerdeeds *cough* — were even gorgeous in our teens.
Bridget McManus: I asked the same platonic male friend to both my junior and senior prom. I drove my mini van, paid for both tickets, danced with only my female friends (including an interpretive dance to Deee-Lite‘s “Groove is in the Heart” (which caused my stockings to rip) and drove “my date” home by 11 PM both nights. God, I was so gay! Minus the stockings. For some reason, I even posed for my prom photo alone (or with my ghost lesbian date).
Trish: I went to my junior prom with my gay best friend. I had moved during my sophomore year, so he took me to his prom at my old high school and then I, in turn, took him to mine at my new school. He was the only guy that would dance, so all of the girls tried to steal him from me. I didn’t go to my senior prom because I wanted to see the farewell show of one of my favorite local bands. I was obsessed with the female lead singer, which should have been a huge indicator to 17-year-old me that I was a lesbian. I didn’t find that out, unfortunately, until age 20.
Heather: Most lesbians get shirty with me when I talk about prom because: a) It was awesome. And b) I loved, loved, loved my high school boyfriend. Not in a “canoodling soul mates forever” kind of way, but in a “he was just like Jim Halpert” kind of way. For prom dinner we went to a Mexican street fair and ate carnival foods and rode every kind of gravity-defying spinning ride in our formal attire.
At actual prom we danced and danced until the last of the janitors made us go home. After prom we went swimming at his parents’ house. His mom came rushing out the back door at 2:00 a.m. when she heard us splashing around. I think she thought we were skinny dipping. She was even madder when she realized Tony had ruined his tux on account of we were swimming in our prom clothes. (P.S. That guy always had good taste. He accidentally married a gorgeous lesbian.)
I couldn’t find a prom photo of me, but here’s a look at my first shot at formal attire. That’s me on the right. Not pictured: White patent leather shoes and lacy socks. (Also, you have no idea just how much life my mullet would take on in later years.)
Drummerdeeds: As a senior in high school, I had finally come out to myself, but there was no way the love of my life would go to prom with me, so I decided to ask a fellow drummer, socially awkward junior BOY to prom–with “PROM?” written in Cheez Whiz on his front porch. Yeah. Lesbian. Turns out he didn’t even dance, so I cried because I spent so much time finding the perfect outfit in India the summer before for this magical night, but was having a crap time as a pretend-straighty with a lame-o date. If only Santana had been my prom date; we would’ve matched and everything. Not the sweetest of stories, but that’s high school for you.
Courtney Gillette: I should’ve taken Emily Lacono to prom. She wore a black leather jacket and had a shaved head, and was the only queer person visible to me for miles and miles and miles. I was the girl with the Manic Panic-ed hair who had broken up with her boyfriend and now sat across from Emily at lunch every day, crushed out and unsure what to do about it.
When prom season hit, some local tuxedo rental company took over the cafeteria, and beefcake boys strutted between the folding tablesin a variety of suits and tuxes. “I’d wear a tuxedo to prom,” Emily ventured. We looked at each other. “I’d go with you if you did,” I replied. Ah, the drama that can befall such a promise! Between that electric conversation and the actual prom date, Emily and I had roller coastered through crush confessions, first kiss, passed notes,
questionable proclamations of love, and every other teenage relationship variable you squeeze into the end of one’s senior year. By prom, Emily and I were over, and thus I attended prom with Lauren, a girl from another high school who friends had set me up with, as Lauren thought maybe kinda sorta she liked girls.
So we went together. In photos, we’re smiling. In reality, Lauren claimed to have a headache and didn’t dance with me once that night. Afterward, we drove to my parents’ house, and she slept in my bed while I slept on the floor, wondering if this was all lesbianism had to offer (note from the future: it was not.) But I can’t blame her, or me, or Emily for any of our choices then. I had never seen gay people go to prom together. And aside from that Ellen coming out episode, I hadn’t ever seen gay people, really. What were we supposed to do?
This is why I love kids like Constance McMillen, who stand up for their rights to go to prom just as they are. I hope queer kids’ today take whoever they want to prom, in whatever they wanna wear, and headaches or no headaches, they all have a grand time.
Karman Kregloe: In my junior year of high school I had a crush on my English teacher, who was overseeing the prom committee. I realized I could maximize my time with her if I also joined the prom committee. I spent every afternoon with her (and all the popular girls who were probably trying to figure out why the androgynous chick from the Drama club had invaded their sacred space) for six weeks, designing prom decorations in which I had absolutely no interest. A couple of weeks before the prom, I realized that if I was on the committee and didn’t attend the prom myself, it would look bad (i.e. gay), so I immediately started dating a guy friend, went to the prom with him, then “broke up” with him a week later. I blame our homophobic culture for forcing me to be such a manipulative a-hole, and no, I’m not posting a photo of myself in that purple prom dress.
TheLinster: Best part of my prom? I won two door prizes: A portable beauty-salon-style hair dryer for my Mary Tyler-Moore hair that took all day Saturday to dry.
And the grand prize, a Sony solid-state flip clock radio. By “flip” I mean the numbers on the clock flipped. That thing lasted longer than I stayed in the closet. In fact, I think it stopped flipping the same year I flipped for good.
Grace Chu: My senior prom date was the guy who played Rocky Horror in the local production of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. He declined my request to wear his tight gold short shorts to the prom though. That would have been pretty awesome.
Mia Jones: Even though I had just torn my ACL playing soccer, I had a great time at prom (and no, it wasn’t due to the painkillers the doctor prescribed). My date was one of my ex-boyfriends from Jr. High who had transferred schools but was still close friends with my entire group. By entire group, I mean there were 40 people in my prom group. It’s not often that I dressed up – then or now – so I actually felt really pretty for the entire night. My grandma even went out and bought me a “fancy” nose ring to put in instead of my regular hoop, which I thought was sweet and hilarious.
The day after my prom, my entire group drove to Lake Geneva, Wisconsin and stayed for the weekend. During that time, my stepmom gave birth to my youngest sister, Noa, who came out of the womb “cool” the same way I did “gay”.
The only down side to what had been a great weekend, was deciding to do shots about 5 hours before we were supposed to drive home. This went from fun times to me laying on the bathroom floor begging for mercy. At some point I had apparently also pounded someone’s wine cooler that was in the refrigerator. When he found out, all I could hear from the bathroom floor was, “Who drank my wine cooler? It was Mia? That dyke!” and all I could think was, “Oh my God, they KNOW!”. In hindsight, I probably should’ve been asking him why he was calling me a derogatory gay slur while he was the one who bought wine coolers for himself.
Lesley Goldberg: I can’t believe I forgot to send mine in. I’ve had the pleasure of attending THREE proms, each more awkward than the last. First, as sophomore on a blind date for a favor for one of my mom’s friends with a guy I’d met once in passing. Second, as a junior with a closeted girl who had a crush on me despite the fact that I had a boyfriend; and third, as a senior with said boyfriend, who also happened to be my boss at work. Yeah, I was a late bloomer. And the dresses? Pink with spaghetti straps (and a softball-induced farmer tan) — twice — and black to cover up said bad tan. The photos to this day remain my kryptonite.
Dorothy Snarker: I did not go to prom. Instead my best friend and I drove past the convention hall that night and screamed an obscenity at the building. Then we went home and watched movies. It was kind of awesome.
Tell us about your prom experience in the comments!