LGBTI people share moving stories of their high school prom

Being open about your sexual orientation or gender identity in high school can be hard. And so can be prom.

While some look back at their proms with a nostalgic smile, this is hardly ever the case for LGBTI people.

Gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans people often have traumatic memories of their own proms — if they went at all.

Bullying and anxiety to fit into the heteronormative mould turn what should be a fun night into a nightmare.

Those who did brave the annual celebration of outdated gender stereotypes sometimes wish they could do it all over again. That’s where Queer Prom comes in.

Queer Prom

At Queer Prom, created by Vicki Cook, everyone can rewrite their prom stories.

LGBTI have the chance to attend an inclusive event designed for them. They can wear whatever outfit they want and invite whoever they want to be with.

The next events will take place in Brighton on 31 May and Birmingham on 12 July.

‘We plan to take Queer Prom all over the UK, and one day beyond,’ said Cook.

She explained she’d like to give everyone the ‘opportunity to rewrite those negative or non-existent prom stories’.

Ahead of the upcoming proms, 9 LGBTI people reminisced of their own — good and bad.

Nikolai

‘I spent my childhood and teenage years extremely ill and missed out on a lot of school and events that my peers went to,’ they said.

‘I didn’t have a prom or school dance and even if I had I’m not sure I would have been able to go as I would like to have presented. Being non-binary and visibly disabled is hard as a teenager and I felt very self-conscious whenever around my peers.

‘Coming to Queer Prom allows me to be who I am without fear of ridicule or shame – knowing I’ll be not just accepted, but celebrated, and that means the world to me.’

Yaz

‘I was incredibly fortunate to have a supportive gang of friends who would probably have been disappointed if I’d turned up to prom in anything resembling “normal,”‘ she said.

‘I did my best not to disappoint, rocking up with my fabulous girlfriend, and wearing a kilt – an ode to my future university career in Scotland and the closest thing to genderqueer formal wear I could come up with in the early 2000s home counties.

‘That night, I also professed my long-standing affections for my favourite teacher, to which she replied, “yep, I know”. Then we shared a dance. I like to think that if we had elected a prom king and queen, I would have won them both!

‘I realise how unusual that experience was, especially back in the last dirty days of Section 28.’

Seb

‘My high school prom would have been the last time anyone saw me with long hair and a dress on,’ he said.

‘I’ve always wanted to stand out but before I came out I was making myself stand out for the wrong reasons. Being at prom, even being complimented so much, looking the way I did, didn’t feel right. I felt like a stranger among people I’d known forever.

‘Since moving to Brighton, it’s events like Queer Prom, where anything goes that are so important. Queer people need a safe space to express themselves, and fashion and nightlife is such a huge part of our culture.’

Cornelia

‘When I look at the pictures from my school prom, it’s painfully obvious how much I was trying to fit in and be a normal girl, when that just isn’t me,’ they said.

‘I forced myself into this awful navy blue ball gown that I thought was what I was “supposed to” wear, and I was visibly uncomfortable the whole night. I didn’t dance, I got in as fewer photos as I could, and I was one of the first to leave.’

Harry

‘When I first went to prom, it was completely unremarkable,’ they said.

‘I followed the rules, I wore a men’s suit, danced to music I didn’t like and did everything I could to fit in. If I were to go now I would express my femininity with unabashed freedom.’

Atusa

‘I actually had two proms growing up, one when I was 16 and one when I was 18 and both were very different,’ she said.

‘At my first prom I was still in the closet. I hadn’t accepted who I was yet and being part of an Islamic family. I’d been taught that being gay was wrong.

She also said: ‘I wore a dress, had long hair and wore a face full of makeup to my prom, and even though I looked lovely and felt confident, I wasn’t happy and wasn’t able to present myself as I had always wanted to present myself. I wanted to wear a suit, have short hair and present myself in a way that society would label as masculine.’

‘By my second prom, I had overcome all this and accepted myself. I had come out and was lucky enough to have the support of my friends, but I wasn’t yet out to my family.

She added: ‘I went to my second prom in a suit, bow tie and suspenders, with short hair dyed different crazy colours. I absolutely loved it.’

Rae

‘I didn’t have a school prom. There was one at my college but there wasn’t a chance I was going to that,’ she said.

‘The thought of being forced into a dress and go with a boy was actually my worst nightmare. So I just had an ‘alternative prom’ with my friend Steve.’

Vicki

‘My prom night reflected my experience of school. I felt isolated and very much an outsider, I never really fit in and if I did it was because I was pretending to be someone I wasn’t just to get by,’ she said.

She also said: ‘I did everything I was expected to, I went to my prom, I wore a beautiful dress and got all dolled up. Yet I still felt lost and like I was on the outside looking in.

‘I decided to create Queer Prom as a way of offering the LGBTI community a chance experience prom as they always should have been able to. A prom without fear of discrimination, homophobia and transphobia. It has been absolutely magical to see people doing just that.’

Queer Prom is inclusive

‘It’s a breath of fresh air,’ a non-binary person of color who wishes to remain anonymous said of Queer Prom.

‘Being part of such a marginalised community that is also full of so much love and acceptance, it can be especially painful when events are thrown and not all of us are considered in the organisational process.’

All pictures by Kaleido Shoots

See also

Why are LGBTI people calling for a Coachella boycott?

The cast of Pose among this year’s New York City Pride Grand Marshals

Inside The Dinah Shore, the wildest festival for lesbian and bi women

Author: Stefania Sarrubba

The post LGBTI people share moving stories of their high school prom appeared first on Gay Star News.

This is why Drag Race star Blair St Clair might turn down All Stars

Blair St Clair is all business fish | Photo: Blair St Clair

Sitting down to chat with Blair St Clair is like having a business lunch.

Quick-witted, smart and strategic, she’s unlike many other 23-year-old performers in the entertainment industry.

She landed in ninth-place on RuPaul’s Drag Race season 10, something that would have forced most queens back into obscurity. But, instead, she’s performing internationally and is one of the most recognizable queens from the franchise.

Blair St Clair’s also only the fourth Ru girl to have a number one album.

GSN: What’s the Drag Race sisterhood like, Blair St Clair? 

Blair St Clair: I heard that term loosely mentioned before being on Drag Race. I thought, it can’t be as strong a sisterhood as I have with my drag family. If anything I have become closer to the people who have been on Drag Race.

Only we truly know what it’s like to on that TV show and what our careers are like, what our lives are like, what our struggles are like as we’re all trying to be number one all at the same time.

I’ve heard Trixie Mattel say the real race starts after the show is over. Do you agree with that? 

I tell people that all the time. I don’t feel like I was on RuPaul’s Drag Race, I feel like I was on Survivor It was Big Brother meets Survivor.

But I wasn’t trying to survive the elements, I was trying to survive against myself.

It really opened my eyes about myself. It also opened my eyes about what I want to do with my career.

I achieved the thing I really wanted to do – go on RuPaul’s Drag Race – what’s next? That’s what Trixie was talking about – the real race really begins after the show ends. I have accomplished a lot from filming this TV show. I have many opportunities – what do I want to do with them?

How do you feel like you’ve stuck your head above the field of queens?

Photo: | Blair St Clair.com

I find what works best is not to compare myself to other people. If I look at what people have accomplished, I try and not judge myself compared to them.

Whether they’ve been cast in a movie or in a TV show or they’ve put out an album, I stand back. The first initial reaction is jealousy. But it’s healthier to be happy for them or to work out how I can accomplish that or if I can do something bigger or better.

Do you think it was easier for earlier queens, say those that filmed seasons four to six?

I think it was easier. The answer’s yes but it’s also yes and no. I think it’s harder today to be a memorable queen because there’s so many people doing drag.

RuPaul’s Drag Race has gotten so much popularity, so much mainstream success, which I’m so grateful for.

But because of that it’s harder to make a name for yourself in the business.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, when it wasn’t as popular, it must be easier for them to be memorable. However, the more success it has, people start with current seasons. People who watch Drag Race for the first time, they watch it now. They don’t go back.

And do you think the production helps or a hindrance with that?

I don’t think it’s a hindrance. Their job isn’t to produce careers. Their job is to produce great TV.

What I’ve learned a year later is that as there’s a new bunch of girls, they’re going to get the first opportunities. Society is excited by what’s new and up and coming. The career isn’t going to fall in your lap – it’s about directing where you want to go.

We recently asked Alaska about Cardi B copyrighting Okurrr. What are your feelings on that? 

That’s silly. That’s ridiculous. People have said that before her. It just shows,…is anything really original? So I think the best way to think about that is to not think about it. If it’s not affecting my life, I think, OK next.

I’m so excited to see you at Drag World in London. How do you feel about British audiences? 

Photo: Blair St Clair.com

They’ve my favorite in the entire world! When I come to the UK, the British audiences are the most excited for the artistry that we do. I

Every time I come to the UK everyone’s so excited as if they’ve never seen drag before.

What advice would you give for the Drag Race UK girls that have just finished filming? 

I would tell anyone that there’s no time to relax. If you want a long-lasting career, the work starts yesterday.

Strategize what you want to do with your career and figure it out and start doing it. There are going to be many days when you don’t know what you’re doing and that’s OK. You’ll figure it out.

You said Drag Race is like Survivor. Arguably, All Stars is more like Survivor than the original show. Would you be up for All Stars 5 or 6? 

If you were to ask me if I’m ready to film an All Stars season and if I’d do well, I’d say yes. I’m ready. I’ve spent a long time harnessing my craft and strengthened my weaker areas. I would feel confident going into it.

Would I do it? That’s another question. I’d have to evaluate whether it’d be good for my career. I’d have to see whether it would add more experience and exposure to my brand. If it hurts me, I wouldn’t do it.

I know other queens, like Farrah Moan, have also mentioned the expense? 

There’s a lot of expense when it comes to All Stars. If you’re going to go on it, it’s a business assessment. Even if you’re the first one eliminated from the show, you can make something from it. Look at Miss Vanjie – a perfect example. It’s an investment in your career, but you will get a return for it.

I feel like I’ve just had a business lunch with you!

That’s what’s so many people tell me. I went to business school for a while. It’s really important to me. So many queens do drag for the wrong reasons because they’re looking for fame, glory or acceptance.

I did drag because I’m passionate about art, creativity and performance. I went to Drag Race as a great platform to expand that. Now I’ve had that I want to grow as a person and a business. It’s silly if you don’t look at it as a business because there’s so much opportunity there.

What’s next for you?

There’s lots of exciting projects. You’ll be seeing some really really exciting stuff from me. There’s more music on the horizon, sooner than you may think. You may see me in a TV show or two. You may see me in a movie or two. I’m working on what I do and I’m just having fun and enjoying life.

Blair St Clair will be at Drag World UK on 17-18 August.

Author: Joe Morgan

The post This is why Drag Race star Blair St Clair might turn down All Stars appeared first on Gay Star News.

Gay guys reveal the best part about being in an age-gap relationship

Sam Stanley and Laurence Hicks are a high-profile couple in an age-gap relationship | Photo: Instagram

Age-gap relationships have always been a part of the gay experience.

From the Greeks to Ellen DeGeneres, gay and bi people have always connected across generations.

And while there is still some stigma surrounding them, many people form happy and healthy age-gap relationships.

Look at diver Tom Daley and screenwriter Dustin Lance Black, who are married but have a difference of 20 years.

Rugby player Sam Stanley is in his late 20s. His long-term partner, Laurence Hicks, is 34 years older.

The two, who met eight years ago via the dating site silverdaddies.com, are planning to marry. Despite this, some accused Stanley of being a ‘gold-digger’, and Laurence of being a ‘perv’.

But it’s not the case. Just like these couples.

Christopher, 36, and Derek, 62, from Cape Town, South Africa

Christopher and Derek met at a birthday party as Christopher’s previous relationship was ending.

‘My now ex-boyfriend hosted it for me,’ he told GSN.

‘When Derek arrived we just clicked. Three months later my ex kicked me out because I would no longer support his drug habit on my pittance of a salary.

‘Derek offered me his spare room. A month after I moved in, we became more than just housemates. Suddenly, we were partners.’

Christopher previously only dated men around his own age. However, he’d always been drawn to older men.

‘Mentally, I feel more on par intellectually [with older men] than guys my age.’

He added: ‘Derek has had an amazing life and has taught me a lot from his life experiences. He has the advantage of hindsight for a lot of my life choices.’

Christopher and Derek have had little issues in their relationship.

‘My family had some problems to start with, but they no longer care because they see I am happy and safe,’ he said.

‘A few people don’t understand it, so we cut those negative people out of our lives.’

Giving advice, Christopher said: ‘Age is just a number, love is love. You as old as you feel and not how you look.’

Jermaine, 27, and his ex, 51, from Southampton, UK

Jermaine is 27, and has always gone after older guys because he likes the way they look.

They also tend to be good listeners, according to him.

Two years ago, he broke up with his train driver ex, who we’ll call Lloyd. Lloyd was just divorcing his husband of seven years when he messaged Jermaine on Grindr.

‘I had no intentions of seeing anyone,’ he tells GSN. ‘It was completely out of the blue. We seemed to just click somehow.’

The two moved in together in three weeks and were together for about three years.

‘I always felt safe around him,’ Jermaine said. ‘I don’t know what it is about older men – they give this aura of protectiveness and security. The conservation was actually good.’

But it didn’t last. One negative about dating older men, Jermaine says, is a tendency to be condescending or arrogant.

The two broke up because of their conflicting work schedules and arguing more often.

But it definitely was not anything to do with the age-gap.

‘[My friends] have always known I’ve liked older men. From what I’ve noticed from people in my age category, people think it’s weird you’re dating someone your dad’s age but they’re having sex with them behind closed doors.’

Jay, 41, and Dan, 21 from Manchester, UK

Dan and Jay met in Gran Canaria, while both on holiday, in 2017.

Jay, 41, had gone on his own and was meeting up guys he knew out there.

They met on the third day, and as drama was going on among mutual friends, they hit it off straight away.

‘We spent the rest of the holiday in each other’s company and when we got back to the UK met up and started dating,’ Jay tells GSN.

‘We weren’t sure if it would work due to the age difference however the more we spent time with each other the more we realised we wanted to be together.’

He likes dating younger guys like Dan because they’re more adventurous. Him and Dan spend lots of time together traveling, socializing and going to the gym.

‘Dan has always gone for older guys. He’s mature for his age and he finds guys of a similar age just aren’t as switched on. He says they don’t seem to have the same work ethics as him. The majority of his friends are also older than him.’

It helps they also have friends who are also in age-gap relationships.

‘We find that the age gap works for us both,’ Jay adds.

‘It helps keep me young and Dan finds that he can have grown up conversations that he wouldn’t normally have with someone his own age. As long as you share the same values and both want the same thing out of life then age shouldn’t be a factor.

‘There is no jealousy between us and trust is paramount.’

At first, Jay was worried about Dan’s parents. But while the age-gap gives people a reason to ‘talk’, all their friends and family are happy for them.

‘A relationship is between two people,’ Jay adds.

‘I met his parents quite soon after getting together and they could see how happy Dan was and how switched on I was.’

Jay believes age is just a number.

‘Just because we’re 20 years apart doesn’t define who we are as people or as a couple,’ he says.

‘They aren’t for everyone and we get that. However the majority of couples who we know who are also in age gap relationships all agree that they just work.

‘We say if you meet someone and your concerned about the age gap then don’t be. Get to know the person first and see if you have similar interests, You may be surprised.’

Author: Joe Morgan

The post Gay guys reveal the best part about being in an age-gap relationship appeared first on Gay Star News.