As a part of “Pride Week,” co-presidents of the New Paltz Pride club, Cat Keefe-Harris and Julian Naing, brought together a new rendition of a prom-styled event, called PRIDE PROM.
Along with support from the Queens and Kings of New Paltz, the night of May 4 consisted of dancing, eating and socializing, all followed by a drag show.
The New Paltz Pride club has been operating since the 1970s and continually holds initiatives to provide educational opportunities and activities to bring people together in a diverse dialogue and space. The club orients conversations around current LGBTQIA+ matters. Discussions focus on ways to enhance an informative and positive dialogue for others to engage in.
This is an event different from a typical high school prom: there are no dress codes, no faculty, and no standards to follow.
“A lot of high school proms are heterosexual dances. We want to provide a community for college students to be able to express themselves,” Keefe-Harris said.
PRIDE PROM acts as an outlet for college students to involve themselves in a space with no pressure and all-around acceptance. Most people came just for the atmosphere.
“It is a nice relaxing environment,” said Jackie Rankel, an attendee. A lot of the people who attended also came to support their friends and performers.
Outside speakers, faculty and presenters from non-profit organizations help facilitate these discussions as well through discussion panels.
“Our main goal is advocacy,” Keefe-Harris said.
Recently, the club held a panel discussion to dissect the problem of mass incarceration in prisons and its relation to the LGBTQIA+ community. New Paltz Pride ensures that current concerns and topics are addressed, and that questions are answered.
“You know, art can be a form of resistance,” Keefe-Harris said. “And this is why so many of the events the club puts on are conducted in ways that promote creation and expression.”
The New Paltz Pride club holds creative workshops like learning how to vogue, or watching movies about LGBTQIA+ related topics that help further these conversations beyond New Paltz.
Additionally, opportunities are created for people to show themselves in a different light.
Miranda Sofia was the DJ at PRIDE PROM. She’s interested in both DJ’ing and drag. She understands how hard it is for women to get into this field, but now she has the opportunity at these events to DJ.
“Here I can be taken seriously as a woman,” Miranda Sofia Ranghelli-Puran said. Events like these provide opportunities that are difficult to find. She also has four more events in one weekend.
No matter what their passions are, those who attended PRIDE PROM knew there would be a lively vibe for everyone to show off their talent.
“I came for the open space to have fun and to freely express myself in this type of community” said Jessica Radulski, a club member.
To learn more about New Paltz Pride and future events and workshops, contact them at email@example.com.