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Students express “gender euphoria” at Westminster’s Queer Prom

Miel Franco Perez, senior psychology major, puts glitter makeup on Brendan Sudberry, senior communication major and ASW president, at Queer Prom April 8. “I think just like the need and craving for community and just like wanting to connect with people before I graduate [is what motivated me to come to Queer Prom],” Perez said. Photo courtesy of KC Carter. Image description: Brendan stands in a gymnasium in a polka dot long sleeve while Miel puts glitter on his face.

During Westminter College’s Pride Week Celebration, a Queer Prom was hosted with the theme “gender euphoria.” Attendees were encouraged to come to the event dressed in whatever makes them feel most comfortable with themselves. 

When first entering the event, students were met with a table of colorful glow sticks and Westminster-branded pride stickers that covered an array of different identities. The rest of the space was a dance floor with a DJ set by Pink High Heel, spinning popular queer hits like “Born This Way” by Lady Gaga.

Some students said they had different motivations for coming to the Queer Prom, ranging from finding a place where they can express themselves freely to just wanting a fun night out with friends. 

Miel Franco Perez, a senior psychology major, said, “I think the need and craving for community and just like wanting to connect with people before I graduate [is what motivated me to come to Queer Prom].”

Perez said they haven’t been to a prom before, but they had attended other school dances in the past. 

“My previous school dances were pretty heteronormative, there was actually no queer representation,” Perez said. “I didn’t grow up in Utah — everyone [where I lived] was straight and I very much felt the need to present very femme.”

Perez dressed in a fiery mesh top which matched their red hair.

“[Choosing my outfit] was hard, I think I wanted to be comfortable, like physically comfortable […] and I also wanted to feel unique,” Perez said. 

Students from different schools and universities attended Queer Prom at Westminster. 

Students dance to DJ set from Pink High Heel at Westminster’s Queer Prom in the Health, Wellness and Athletic Center April 8. The idea of being confident in a new setting is what motivated them to attend Westminster’s queer prom, according to Katie Leonard, a Brigham Young University Student. Photo courtesy of KC Carter. Image description: A gymnasium of attendees are dancing and talking with lights hanging on the back wall.

A married couple, Katie and Mikalynn Leonard, are students from Brigham Young University. The idea of being confident in a new setting is what motivated them to attend Westminster’s Queer Prom, according to Katie Leonard.

The lack of BYU queer activities was also a motivator in pushing them to attend the event, according to Mikalynn Leonard.

The pair, wearing a long green dress with a corset and a snazzy vest and button up shirt, entered the Health, Wellness and Athletic Center and started mingling. 

They said their outfits were unintentionally inspired by Hogwarts houses, and many of the pieces they were wearing were borrowed from each other or gifted to them by family members. 

The event was free and open to the public, and queer community members from all across Utah were welcome to come to Westminster’s Queer Prom. 

Maggie Regier, the manager of Alumni Engagement and a planner of the Queer Prom, said, “We reached out to Encircle to help us reach the LGBT population in Provo and put fliers up around town. Several staff members also told their children to help get the word out to local high school students.”

Comparing this event to their previous prom experiences, Katie and Mikalynn Leonard said it was almost as if everything was completely different.

They said this experience was filled with much less pressure from their parents, and they were able to express their identity much more freely than they had been able to in the past.

“At [my last] prom I wasn’t even out yet to myself,” Mikalynn said.

As Katie and Mikalynn Leonard’s identities have been shaped and shifted since their last school dance experiences, the typical responsibilities associated with going to a dance also seemed to change for both of them.

The best part? 

“I didn’t have to ask a guy!” Katie Leonard said.

“And I didn’t have to ask!” Mikalynn Leonard said.

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KC Carter (she/her) is a senior at Westminster College studying communication. She has a passion for art and design and doesn’t do anything without adding a pop of bright color. She jumps on any opportunity to go to a concert and loves to spend time with her pandemic puppy, Sunny.

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