McAllen-based group holds Valley's first 'gay prom'

As end of the school year celebrations took place across the Rio Grande Valley, a McAllen-based group quietly held the region TMs first prom for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth.

The Stonewall Democrats Rio Grande Valley Chapter held the 2011 Right To Prom event at McAllen TMs Celestial Ballroom over the Memorial Day Weekend.

About 70 to 80 high school seniors, juniors, college students and their chaperones gathered for the Saturday evening event.

Stonewall Democrats Local President Eli Olivares told Action 4 News that young people from across the Valley participated in the event.

We wanted to create a safe environment for them to enjoy their teenage life, Olivares said about the event.

Publicity for the event was kept low and mainly in LGBT circles for security reasons and to prevent protests.

But Olivares said it went so well that organizers want to expand the event and continue it each year.

There TMs no need to be underground anymore, Olivares said.

The event included dancing, food and discussions about the It Gets Better anti-bullying campaign and a talk about suicide and depression among LGBT youth.

On a lighter note, several area teens competed for the title of Prom King and Prom Queen but unlike other Valley proms, the nominees could be a either boy or a girl.

Olivares said the teens voted and a girl won the title of Prom King. A male participant who was dressed up as a woman won the title of Prom Queen.

There was very moving acceptance speech, Olivares said about the boy. He said, ~All my life this is all I ever dreamed about and I never thought it was possible. TM

Yolanda Speece with the Brownsville chapter of Parents & Friends of Lesbians And Gays (PFLAG) said her group bought tickets and took eight teens to the event.

This event was drama free, Speece said. Everybody went and everyone had a good time.

Olivares said he didn TMt participate in his own prom and the event was an opportunity for him and a few other adults to go for the first time.

There was no drinking, no drugs and no drama, Olivares said. They were happy and they smiled and they had a blast. It was great to have an event where they got a natural high.