So prom season is coming up and I’ve been stressing on how to go about it, especially since I’m gay. I’ve been friends with this one girl since freshman year and have basically liked her since then. She knows how I feel about her and I was thrilled when I learned she felt the same way. We’ve both pretty much assumed that we’re going together, but I get the sense that she wants me to formally ask her. However, I don’t know whether or not I should make it a big deal, like make a huge poster? Leave notes in her classes? Just bring her flowers at her house? What also complicates things is that no one really knows that we’ve been talking. I’m scared of how people will react because, while my school is extremely accepting, our getting together is super unexpected. We only know each other from being in the same sport, but we don’t hang out in the same group of friends at all—she hangs out with the really popular, partying-type crowd, and I kind of lean toward the super school-involved, non-socially awkward over-achieving AP student types.
Also, I honestly don’t know what to do about everything else. Since we don’t have the same friends, should I go and try to take pictures in her group and then she can go to dinner with mine? How the heck do we even pose? Do we still have to do that whole awkward “couples line up with the guy grabbing the girl from behind” thing? How do we even color-coordinate, or should we not match because it would be too cheesy? We’re both pretty feminine and for sure want to wear dresses and heels. Sorry for all the questions, but I honestly just don’t want to screw up the most overrated night of my high school career. Please help! —N
Anna says: Let’s get one thing out of the way first: You can pose any way you want to, just don’t do that Charlie’s Angels, guns-as-hands pointing in the air thing. It’s been done to death so many times that it came back alive as a zombie and now we have to kill it with a garden hose. Otherwise, have at it! Don’t trust the photographer to tell you what to do. Do whatever you think will look good and maybe won’t embarrass you in 10 years. Junior year I had my date pick me up off the ground and did a kind of “I’m ready to carry all the things to the car from Costco” pose with my arms. And senior year, my date actually looks afraid of me, which he probably was, in hindsight:
If you want inspiration, there’s a Pinterest section devoted to prom photography. It seems fairly hetero, but no matter. If you like something, steal the idea.
Also, you are adorable! Not to make light of your stress—prom can definitely be stressful, as can any formal event really—but like a wedding or a dinner party or even a well-planned date, it can be as crazy or as chill as you want it to be. It’s up to you and your level of comfort (and financial resources) as to how fancy or romantic you want to be. But please do actually ask your would-be date to prom! You don’t have to make a poster (but again, that is adorable) if you don’t want to, but please ask her in some capacity. Because it’s nice to be asked and it’s romantic and because that’s not the kind of thing one should assume. Prom takes planning and coordination, but you shouldn’t have to do it alone, hence bring your date on board and up to speed. As to dinner or group photos or any of that, it’s up to the two of you. If it doesn’t matter a great deal to either of you, then you can try to divvy up time spent with each of your friend groups, but remember that it’s your night and I doubt your friends are going to feel too snubbed if you decide to eat filet mignon alone or whatever. Then again, maybe not. I don’t remember because I blocked out most of high school.
I would advise against being too matchy-matchy with your outfits, but complementary colors or matching accent colors are nice. As someone who wore sparkly tennis shoes to prom, I won’t be offended if you don’t take my fashion advice, however. Again, there are many blogs and magazines devoted to this question, if it’s important to you to follow conventions. If not, then wear whatever makes you feel hot! My girlfriend wore a kind of slutty, goth Princes Leia thing to her prom and it got rave reviews (from everyone except school administrators).
I know you said you’d wear a dress most likely, but for those out there who want to wear a tux or are just curious about the craziness of the world, the ACLU has drafted a letter you can print out to show to school officials in case they try to ban you from prom. Turns out wearing a tux is a constitutionally protected right, and they can’t force you to wear gender conforming attire. This goes for boys who want to wear dresses too. So yay, kind of?
The most important thing to remember about prom is that it should be fun. If something doesn’t sound fun, then don’t stress about doing it. For instance, I always thought the corsage-boutonniere thing was a scam so I saved my hard-earned mall job dollars to buy what I actually thought was important: wine coolers. So please, have fun, enjoy your romantic comedy storyline (popular lady falls for socially adept nerd!), and don’t sweat the small stuff.