Anti-Prom Offers No Tuxedos and No Judgment

Filed under: In The News, Activities: Teens

anti-prom

Anti-Prom was held at the main branch of the New York Public Library on June 3. Credit: AP

Were you one of those kids too nerdy or too cool to go to the prom? Did you loathe the very idea of the end-of-year dance?

Imagine spending the night at the public library instead.

Well, maybe you actually already did that. But did you get to do that while snarfing on fast food and hanging out with your fellow misfits and iconoclasts -- all courtesy of adults who actually "get" you?

Then imagine the prom night held at the main branch of the New York Public Library June 3.

The New York Times reports library workers offered an anti-prom for kids who, for one reason or another, just don't fit it at the conventional prom. It's a big come-as-you-are party.

Take 17-year-olds Dijon James and Jo Doodle.

"Some kids come because of their sexual orientation or the way they dress," James tells The Times. "We're just coming to have a good time."

James and Doodle, The Times report, came in skinny jeans and sneakers -- hardly the powder blue tuxedos practically required at a traditional prom. And there was nary a gown, corsage or limousine in sight.

Chris Shoemaker, who oversees the teen program for the library, tells The Times library workers came up with the idea of the anti-prom seven years ago after hearing teenagers' increasingly negative comments about traditional proms.

"Prom is a big theme in young adult books, and the reaction we got from a lot of teens is that they hated the prom and wanted to do something else," Shoemaker tells the newspaper. "The reaction we got was that 'prom isn't for us.' Some teens felt that because they might want to attend with a same-sex partner, they wouldn't be accepted at their prom."

Jimmy Van Bramer, an openly gay councilman from Queens, took the microphone at this year's event and urged the group to "celebrate as themselves."

"Does everybody like Lady Gaga?" he yelled to screams of approval. "Was everyone born this way?"

The first anti-prom attracted about 100 kids, according to The Times. Some 600 teenagers attended this year.

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.