Prom Peeps

Wildcat’s Second Annual Gay Prom

Text & photos by Shannon Kelley Gould

Prom. The word holds a certain power, doesn’t it? Though I thought by now I’d be immune to its influence, clearly I am not. I received an invite to the Wildcat’s second annual Fabulous Gay Prom — which this year was also a benefit for the Pacific Pride Foundation (PPF) — several weeks before going under the knife (or the scope, if you want to get all technical about it), and, as the event was scheduled for a week and a half after my upcoming knee surgery, replied with an enthusiastic YES. Ever the optimist, I figured I’d be up and around by then, no problem.

But as the red-letter date approached, I grew concerned. I was still spending my days on the couch, my leg propped up by pillows, ice pack on the knee, and medicating myself with Vicodin, the Style network, and an eclectic collection of dark chocolate from Trader Joe’s. Though the thought of spending any amount of time on my feet seemed daunting and my high school prom experiences were typically unremarkable and vomit-filled, prom’s inherent and mystical pull nevertheless tugged at my soul, working its strange juju on me and my knee. And, on Sunday night, in an act that would make John Hughes proud, I somehow psyched myself up, enlisted a date, and donned a purple disco frock I had pilfered from my mom’s wardrobe last year for a friend’s 1975-themed 30th birthday party, a neckload of purple Mardi Gras beads, a purple tiara that served as a party favor at a recent Vegas bachelorette party, and — alas — my flip flops. Doctor’s orders.

We arrived to find the Kitty adorned with streamers and balloons, and teeming with people decked out in sequins, tuxedos, and everything in between. I received a warm welcome from the folks from PPF, and lots of compliments on how fantastic I looked from the drag queens who towered over me and whose amazing ensembles absolutely put mine to shame. I chatted up last year’s Prom Queen, who, despite his linebacker-esque build, managed to pull off his gown and well-earned tiara like a pro. My date and I settled in and enjoyed a glass of champagne; we eyed the dance floor, which was getting considerably more action than that of any other prom I’d ever attended, and eventually, wandered outside where couples were posing for their prom portraits. Everything was going along rather smoothly, but, as is the case with any prom story, this one was not without its dose of heartbreak: When Wham’s “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” was followed by Kenny Loggins’s “Footloose” and I had to play the role of the wallflower as my date ditched me to go bust a move, I was as devastated as any teenager.

All in all, though, it was a fantastic post-op coming-out party for me, and a positive prom experience — my knee held out, and while there was no classic Hollywood happy ending, at least I didn’t puke.

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