The Gay Prom is produced and funded by Project Eden’s Lambda Youth Program and Horizon Services, Inc. Private donations from residents and local businesses also help make Prom successful. Bay Area LGTBQQI2-S (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual, Questioning, Queer, Intersex, and 2-Spirit) youth & allies 20 years of age & younger attend the Prom, as well as a few “far away” youth who manage to get here. Key elements of the Prom include alcohol & drug prevention, health and safety services, community support of LGBTQQI2-S youth, and of course, celebration and fun.
This is the 20th annual Prom. It began in 1995, here at Centennial Hall, and is the longest continuously-running event of its kind (The very first Gay Prom was held in 1993, in Los Angeles). Former Lambda Program Director Ken Athey oversaw the first Prom. Approximately 125 gay youth and allies attended. Several years later, Christina Cappelletti took over, and the Prom’s success and support continued to grow. This year, Project Eden’s Program Director, Rochelle U. Collins and Office Manager, Valerie Gay mentors the Youth Gay Prom Planning Committee to plan the Gay Prom Dance. The planning committee selects the menu for the food, decorations, color scheme, and music for the dance. The food menu includes finger foods, nachos, hot dogs, candy, etc.
The Prom features the best area Deejays and Emcees, themed décor, delicious hot and cold food items, souvenir gifts for all promgoers, a full service photograph room, and a “Carnival Room” offering lively “games” and services ranging from health, mental health, alcohol and other drugs awareness to voter registration, how to apply for medical insurance, etc.
The planning committee with support from Project Eden staff does extensive prom planning and outreach efforts starting in October of the previous year. The youth facilitate Speaker’s Bureaus promote Gay Prom as well as how people can support safer communities & schools for LGBTQQI2-S people.
Outside the Prom’s front entrance, a “receiving line” of supporters, going strong since 1996, welcome and celebrate the promgoers as they arrive. The Gay Freedom Orchestra has been part of these outdoor festivities for several years. After most promgoers have arrived and darkness has fallen, folks in the receiving line may enjoy brief, guided “mini-tours” of the prom area, always respecting the promgoers’ privacy and space.
All in all, Gay Prom is a youth event developed, put on and evaluated by Youth Gay Prom Planning Committee. All money collected, raised, and donated to Gay Prom goes directly to the event and no overhead is charged by the parent organization.