By Shawna Leader

As Pride Month comes to an end, two events will draw the AS ROP Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Association (LGBTA)’s annual celebration to a close.
The LGBTA will be hosting a barbecue from 7 to 9 p.m. on Tuesday, May 26 in the PAC plaza. The final event of Pride Month is Pride Prom, which will go from 8:30 p.m. to midnight on June 4 in the Viking Union Multipurpose Room.

“[The events are] an opportunity for people to socialize and have fun,” LGBTA Coordinator Amber Aldrich said.

Both events are free of charge and free food will be provided. Participants are encouraged to bring side dishes to the barbecue. Burgers, hot dogs, beverages and vegetarian options will be provided.

The barbecue is traditional, said Melissa Jensen, LGBTA programs coordinator. In addition to food, there will be outdoor games including Frisbee and volleyball. Participants are encouraged to bring their own outdoor games, she said.

“Aside from Pride Prom, it’s the last big [LGBTA] event of the year,” Jensen said.

Aldrich and Jensen chose to put on a prom because they wanted to give LGBT couples a safe and comfortable setting to attend a dance as same-sex couples.
“It was important to me to give students the opportunity to relive their prom as they might have wanted it, to bring the date of their choice, to see other couples and not to be the only queer couple at the prom,” Aldrich said.

Pride Prom offers LGBT couples “the prom they never had,” Jensen said.

“In high school it’s not necessarily safe for a lot of people, or they don’t feel comfortable, going to the prom as a same-sex couple,” she said.

The theme for Pride Prom is “A Night in Paris.” The inspiration for the theme was provided by a volunteer who owns a giant Eiffel tower, Aldrich said; the coordinators and committees took it from there.  Although the office was still finalizing their decorations at press time, some possibilities include a themed cake and giant photos of Paris, Aldrich said.

As for the dress code, Pride Prom is formal, Aldrich said. But she added that she has a very broad interpretation of “prom wear.”

“We wanted to make sure it was a formal prom, not costume, but if people wanted to wear something Moulin Rouge-inspired, they could,” she said.

“People should take their own personal definition of prom wear and wear that,” Aldrich said.

Two bands will be playing at Pride Prom: Council of Lions and The Sugar High Mustangs. Aldrich booked the bands because they were requested by students who were asked to choose queer-identified bands to play at Pride Prom, Aldrich said.

Prom photos taken by a professional photographer will also be available, Jensen said.

Aldrich hopes that with these events the LGBTA can increase outreach to Whatcom Community College and high school Gay-Straight Alliances (GSA). While the LGBTA focuses on the educational aspects of their office, building community for the LGBTA and allies is also very important, Aldrich said.