First annual 'Gay Prom' night a first for West Island
© Photo Keith McAuliffe
The West Island’s first ever ‘Gay Prom’ night is May 23, 7 p.m. to 12 a.m. at Beaconsfield United Church.
After missing his high school prom because of his sexual orientation, one Pierrefonds man will finally get the chance to dance with his partner for the first time.
Adam Seward, 28, is set to attend the West Island LGBTQ Youth Centre’s ‘Gay Prom’ night –a first for Montreal.
The youth centre volunteer said the night, held on May 23 at the Beaconsfield United Church, will show the LGBTQ community in the West Island “they’re not alone.”
“There is a place for them to hang out, with people similar to them and not afraid to be themselves,” said Seward.
After being outted as a then 16-year-old gay teen at Riverdale High School, the Pierrefonds resident was discouraged by teachers, guidance counselors, and fellow students from enjoying what is a once-in-a-lifetime event for most teenage children.
“It was scary because a lot of people found out and I was bullied of course,” said Seward, adding he couldn’t escape the consistent harassment that ensued.
Twelve years later and Seward’s high school experience is the source of inspiration behind the gay prom, an event which is likely to gain much media exposure for the West Island youth centre.
It’s an institution, said the LGBTQ Youth Centre’s prom coordinator, that’s willing to assist more than just the 25 to 30 kids who drop by regularly.
“Our main goal is to provide kids a safe space,” said Dane Robertson. “We said, ‘you know what, why don’t we create an environment where people can dance and be who they are.’”
The youth centre estimates the West Island’s gay youth (14-24) population at 5000.
While the social landscape within high schools have changed since he graduated 12 years ago, Seward said there’s “still that fear” of being outted, or deliberately coming out. As a result, the youth centre’s gay prom night bears more significance.
“It’s still the case where people feel like it won’t be the same if they go to prom with their significant other. It still might cause problems,” he said.
Follow @AAbbondanza1 on Twitter!