Pride Prom promotes acceptance, sexual safety

The event allowed anyone to experience a typical prom.

The annual Pride Prom, sponsored by the LGBTQ Resource Center, took place Friday night in the Mark Twain Ballroom, allowing anyone in attendance to experience prom in a comfortable environment.

The "Vegas nights and city lights" semiformal included music, food, dancing and a sexual health table with free condoms and informational pamphlets.

Students in attendance could get their pictures taken for free in the style of a typical high school prom experience. Music was also carefully selected to fit the mood of the evening.

Pride Prom coordinator Carrie McKinley said the dance provided students with the opportunity to have a comfortable prom experience where they could be themselves.

"I think the event is important because not many students get to have a comfortable prom experience," McKinley said. "Tonight is about being able to wear what you want to wear and come with whoever you want."

Freshman Greer Relphorde said the dance offered many students the chance to be completely comfortable within their environment.

"Pride Prom is important because it gives an opportunity for people to be themselves and not get judged," Relphorde said.

Junior Morgan Insley said she hoped the greater MU community could work toward being more tolerant.

"When it comes to it, people just need to try to understand other people," Insley said.

Andrea Koenig, Columbia/Boone County Department of Public Health and Human Services representative, worked at the sexual health table at Pride Prom.

Koenig said she specializes in HIV and STD prevention. Her goal for the night was to promote safe sexual practices and testing.

"I think it's important to hand out condoms and information because a lot of people don't have to access to materials," Koenig said. "It's one thing to have a condom and another thing to know how to use it."

Ryan Black, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer Resource Center coordinator, said Pride Prom aims to give students a safe place where they can attend a dance with a partner of their choice.

Black said the greater goal of the LGBTQ Resource Center is to provide safe spaces and social opportunities for the queer community.

He said he wants to welcome all MU students to be a part of the alliance.

"We want the campus to know we're here and join in on the fun," Black said.

Pride Prom was open to all members of the MU community and is one of many LGBTQ events going on throughout the month of April and first week of May.

Upcoming events for the week include a queer people of color social from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday at The Heidelberg, followed by a screening of "Transamerica" at 8:30 p.m. at the Center for Social Justice.

Friday marks the nationally acknowledged event known as the Day of Silence, meant to bring attention to injustice incurred upon the LGBTQ community. Beginning at 8 a.m. students can gather in the Center for Social Justice lounge for bagels, juice and coffee to commemorate the start of silence that will last until 5 p.m. The silence will be officially broken at Speakers Circle.

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