Everyday teens shine at Affirmations prom

By |2018-01-16T13:44:17-05:00October 31st, 2017|Uncategorized|

FERNDALE – Young people looking to celebrate a prom where the sight of two boys or two girls dancing together doesn’t raise any eyebrows – or any fists – gathered at the Gary Culik Community Center in Ferndale Saturday, May 21.
About 50 youth attended the annual Affirmations Lesbian and Gay Community Center prom, which featured dinner, dancing, and formal photos. Youth were given up to five dollars off the ticket price if they brought non-perishable food items to be donated to Wellness House.
Cass Varner, Affirmations youth services coordinator, said the event was a success. “It went really well. It was probably the smoothest prom we have ever had.” This was Varner’s third prom since joining Affirmations’ staff.
“The kids were really good,” she said. “It was just a really nice time.”
This year’s theme was “Celebrities and Movies: Yesterday’s Classic, Today’s Chic.” The theme and the colors – silver, gold, and black – were decided on by the Center’s youth council, which also plays a role in planning the event.
Volunteer chaperone Lindsey Knoll Larkin greeted youth and sold tickets at the event. She said she decided to volunteer because she had fun at last year’s prom. “I never got to have a gay prom when I was in high school,” she said.
Antwan Thomas, 17, of Detroit was one of the first youths to arrive at the prom. He said he was there “to have fun and enjoy myself.”
Sixteen year-old Nicholas Andrews of Detroit attended the prom with his date Tray Gardner, 19, of Oak Park. “I’m here with my boo,” he said of Gardner.
Not all the youths who attended the prom were LGBT. Fifteen year-old Katie Stapleton of Warren came with her best friend Jake Brining, 16, of St. Claire Shores. “We’ve known each other since first grade,” Stapleton said.
When Brining came out to Stapleton she was immediately supportive. “We went to homecoming last year,” she recalled. “We were waiting to be picked up and he said, ‘Katie, I am gay,’ and I said, ‘Awesome.'”
Having a gay best friend has its benefits. “He’s actually the only person who’s allowed to spend the night at my house,” Stapleton said.
For Varner it was hard to pick a highlight of the evening, though she did take a turn at the microphone during karaoke to sing “Black Velvet.”
But the youth were truly what stood out for her. “I think it’s all a highlight,” she said. “I just really like the event.”

About the Author:

D'Anne Witkowski
D'Anne Witkowski is a writer living in Michigan with her wife and son. She has been writing about LGBTQ+ politics for nearly two decades. Follow her on Twitter @MamaDWitkowski.