By: Rafael Giza/Special for TRT–
HOLYOKE, MA – The 5th Annual Celebration of any event or organization is an important milestone. This year the 5th Annual Western Mass Youth Pride Prom was no different. This year’s prom was a different kind of prom – a free one, and not just in terms of money, but free of judgment, ridicule, oppression, alienation and pressure.
Organized by the only LGBTQ city wide non-profit group “Holyoke For All – Holyoke Para Todos,” the Youth Pride Prom attracted more than 700 young people throughout the evening, seeking an alternate opportunity to attend an end-of-school-year celebratory event.
“Despite the strides that have been made in society regarding the acceptance of same-sex couples, there still exists an underlying prejudice when it comes to a high school prom,” said Nicholas Duclos, Vice President of the Board, and Prom Chair for 2011.
“Going to the prom can be very intimidating, even for someone like me who was out and very confident, in high school” said Nelson Roman, Board President. “I would have liked to have made a statement and taken someone to my prom when I was in high school, but I didn’t, this event allowed youth from all walks of life to feel to do what I wish I could.”
Teens flocked to the Baystate Conference Center on May 14 from local communities including Holyoke, Greenfield, Northampton, Westfield, Chicopee, Springfield and Easthampton and from as far away as Boston and Hartford just to be included in an accepting environment of peers and supporters who do not judge one’s worth by sexual orientation. The day was proclaimed Western Mass Youth Pride Day by Holyoke Mayor Elaine Pluta.
“The concept of a Pride Prom was to provide a safe, fun and inclusive environment for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender young people,” Duclos said. The committee also recognized that there is a new need to provide a similar type of Formal End of Year event for adults, as such the organization is planning the 1st Annual Snowfall Ball – Friday December 9, 2011 at the Springfield Marriott. It will be the official fundraiser for the 6th Annual Western Mass Youth Pride prom, with part of the proceeds benefiting the Aids Foundation of Western Mass. (For ticket information email: [email protected])
The entire evening was a huge success due to the commitment and volunteering of over 75 volunteers, and over 25 vendor workers throughout the evening. The event was sponsored in part by The Rainbow Times, Baystate Health, Tapestry Health, Holyoke Health Center, Oz-by Zeinda, The Aids Foundation of Western Mass. The entertainment was provided by the Imperial Courts of Connecticut and Mass. The 6th Annual Western Mass Youth Pride Prom is scheduled for May 12, 2012 in Springfield, MA. For more information and details visit Holyoke For All – Holyoke Para Todos on Facebook, or email them at [email protected].