Twenty-five young people attended, and with workers, volunteers, students and guests we had over 40 people take part on the night.
This is the first prom in Australia – that we know of – that has ever been organized for LGBTIQ+ people who are 16-25 and have further intersections than just their queer identities. Meaning, this prom specifically catered for LGBTIQ+ people who face significant disadvantage due to being homeless, facing domestic and family violence, not having access to regular schooling, having mental health issues, or due to identifying as people of color and/or people of faith, or being from immigrant and/or refugee backgrounds. Whereas, typical Queer Proms around the world are for school going individuals who have access to more formal and informal forms of support.
The ground floor of the BYS hub was converted into separate spaces for Art, Board Games, Music and Dance, Make Up, Video Games and Food. Many young people spent time in either one or two spaces – showing that for some young people, the conventional prom ‘dance hall’ extroverted environment does not work in their favor. This layout enabled us to cater to young people’s specific needs – especially those who presented with mental health complexities like social anxiety, sensory stimulation related issues and disabilities.
A Polaroid camera floating around on the night was very popular and meant that young people could take away pictures of themselves from the night, giving them a captured moment of prom to cherish forever.
The Rainbow Project, including the Queer Prom, is enabling BYS to attract LGBTIQ+ young people from many different backgrounds, minorities and intersections to seek support when they need it. A particular focus going forward will be providing a safe space for young LGBTIQ+ Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people in Brisbane.
The Queer Prom gained significant attention on social media and demonstrated to the community and the sector that BYS is an inclusive and holistic organisation for diverse young people. Many different organisations have expressed their interest in collaborating with us in the future to deliver optimal outcomes for LGBTIQ+ young people.
The Queer Prom was organised by Shaun D’Souza, BYS Intake and Brief Intervention Worker, as part of the ongoing BYS Rainbow Project.
For many LGBTIQ+ young people the idea of being in an inclusive space and to be celebrated is very special and I am extremely thankful and empowered to be a part of this project. Shaun
Credit: Shaun D’Souza for content and artwork.