Prom is a national industry. If you don’t know this already you’ve obviously been removed from exposure to anyone in their teenage years for quite a while. According to Huffinington Post, the enitre Prom industry is estimated to be worth 4 billion dollars. On average, dresses will foot $250 – although if you’ve ever been dress shopping you know it’s very easy to spend over that amount. For a grand total, what gurls can expect to be spending on prom adds up to $530 and guys can expect to spend around $250 (keep in mind these are based of off gender-normative standards).
The dress, the tux, the reboutonniere and matching corsage – it’s all the picture of a perfect prom date. All very heteronormative, too. Well this prom season, I brought one of my best friends as my prom date – I should mention she’s female. At the conservative suburban school I attend, I was expecting the worst but hoping for the best. I can confidently say I got something in between.
First of all, I have to mention the process of tickets. It was generally easy – there’s normally a form same-sex couples need to have signed, but I was never given this form so I chose not to tell anyone. The small little bit I did find laughable, however, was when I received my tickets. On the back of each is the date’s name and a small mark is made next to the guy’s name to indicate he’s the ticket holder. On the back of my ticket they weren’t sure who to mark. I got a giggle out of the scratched-out star next to my name that was then redrawn afterwards.
The most problematic part of the night would have had to be pictures. The house was full of straight couples, which was to be expected. My date was from outside the district so I had a long period of introductions before we lined up along the staircase for pictures. First all of the guys lined up, which is when I knew it was going to be difficult to explain to the small mob of parents that we were going to need extra space for the couple who didn’t have a guy.
When we all lined up, a lady near the edge of the stairs exclaimed, “these two gurls don’t have dates!” As if that would have needed to be pointed out anyway. That statement silenced the room when I was forced to speak up saying quietly, “no, we’re together.” That statement somehow created a room even more silent than before. This prompted the hostess to step in and rearrange the couples so that we’d all fit on the staircase. Of course the one guy in the group without a date was placed between my date and I. He was told he could have two dates.
Despite that embarrassing ordeal that photos were, the actual prom went off almost entirely without a hitch. We got the occasional look or stare – but being the only same sex couple there it was nearly unavoidable.
The highlight of my night, however, came when my openly gay theatre teacher pulled me aside and told me how proud he was of me. He told me that I was brave. That entire night I didn’t feel like I was doing anything “brave,” but I guess it is in a country where LGBT teens are still denied the same prom experience their straight peers get to experience. My date and I were there, and we showed people what prom should look like in an inclusive place for everyone. So in spirit with my home city of Pittsburgh’s Pride theme this year, I inspire you to all #BeBrave.