Love under neon lights: Student Government Association hosts Queer Prom on Feb. 25


Kiersten Riedford

Students dancing during Friday night’s Queer Prom event.

In close quarters and glitter on nearly everyone’s eyelids, several couples dance against each other as single people form dance circles. Everyone starts to scream at the top of their lungs in excitement as a Nicki Minaj song starts to play. Soon enough, many students have their eyes closed, throwing their hands in the air to dance under the neon lights. They sing out the lyrics to every song while standing intensely close to their friends, strangers and lovers, smiling behind their masks.

DePaul’s Student Government Association (SGA) and Office of Student Involvement (OSI) worked together to put on Queer Prom Friday night. The event was open to the entire student body, with an emphasis on creating a safe space for those in the LGBTQ+ community.

The event brought in many people, creating a vastly diverse space. Riley Reed, senator for the LGBTQ+ community for SGA and senior, said there were more people and more diversity at the event than she anticipated, and she was glad to see everyone coming together.

“I think the amount of diversity we had in the room [and] the number of people that we had here for an event that’s still during Covid times was really great,” Reed said. “I think the most beautiful thing I noticed was how many different types of people were here and how people could just let loose and have fun, especially with a lot of the different laws we’ve seen being passed in Florida and Texas. I think that was just really motivating to see all these amazing queer people coming out and celebrating themselves.”

Seniors Grace Golembiewski and Maddie Shooter said despite the diversity, there was no tension, everyone seemed to be having fun and enjoying the thrill of the night.

“It’s nice that we can all have an inclusive event that we can hang out at and feel safe at,” Shooter said. “I went to a public school [and] we had a really big prom. People were everywhere and on top of me so it was nice to have a really safe and inclusive space so we can all hang out together.”

Reed and Courtney James, director of student involvement and SGA advisor, coordinated the event. Reed said she wanted to host this event as she was pressured to not attend her high school prom because she wanted to go with someone of the same sex as her.

“[There are] people who don’t have a space and don’t have a prom and don’t feel comfortable going to prom and I don’t want anyone to feel the way that I felt or other people have felt in the past so I really wanted to throw this so that people could enjoy it,” Reed said, “And people who are sophomores and freshmen were telling me they didn’t get a prom period because of Covid. So this is a great way to have prom and also have a safe space for queer people to celebrate prom.”

James said hosting an event like Queer Prom is not only important to make students know that they are important and matter, but to inform them that they are also accepted at DePaul despite it being a religious school.

“Supporting students is what we do, but, more importantly, queer prom is an important concept because it’s part of our students’ identity,” James said. “Especially at a place like DePaul that’s the nation’s largest Catholic school, one of my favorite things about our university is that when you walk into the Student Center, yes we have Father Egan on one side that says ‘What are you doing for justice?’ but when you walk through the other entrance you see our Catholic Campus Ministry office and then the [Office of Multicultural Student Success] with a pride flag and a Black Lives Matter sign. I think that’s really powerful,”

Reed said she would like this event to become annual. She said she would like whoever takes her place as the senator for the LGBTQ+ community to continue this event to reinforce that DePaul is a safe place for students in the community.