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Second-Chance Prom Offers Safe Space for Queer Women

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Lez Prom debuts in Houston on May 19. 

By Lourdes Zavaleta

Three years ago, queer event producer Faye Fearless stopped going to her favorite Austin nightclubs because some male patrons did not respect her boundaries. 

“I felt uncomfortable, targeted, and unsafe going out,” recalls Fearless, who identifies as a gay woman. “This motivated me to create a safe space where I felt like dancing again.”

Fearless’ negative experiences, along with community interest in a formal dance event explicitly for queer women and non-binary folks, inspired her to debut Austin’s Lez Prom in 2015. 

The formal gala, featuring dancing, entertainment, and community bonding, now takes place annually in Austin. On May 19, Fearless is bringing Lez Prom to Houston for the first time. She hopes the Rockefeller Hall event on Washington Avenue will be a “second chance” for those who felt out of place at high-school dances. 

“I decided to put together Lez Prom because there was a need for my community to have a new prom experience,” says Fearless, who now lives in College Station with her partner. “It would provide a do-over for queer women and non-binary folks who didn’t feel like their authentic selves at their proms.” 

Christina Wilson, a 31-year-old who identifies as lesbian, is among those who plan to attend the first Houston Lez Prom. 

“When I was younger, I showed up to my prom with my best friend and we were treated badly, and I cried the whole night,” Wilson says. “Lez Prom will show our community that we can come together and have a great time.”  

After moving to Austin from Maine in 2011, Fearless joined a Facebook group called Austin Lesbians Unite. She says several members of the group shared that they chose not to attend their high-school proms because they were afraid to take their partners or wear masculine attire. 

The first Lez Prom, held on Valentine’s Day, drew nearly 200 attendees ages 18 to 65, including lesbians, bisexuals, asexuals, drag kings, as well as transgender and nonbinary people. 

Fearless says the Houston event will include performances by entertainers, a crowning of royalty, and other perks for both singles and couples. 

“A misconception that people have about prom is that it’s just for couples, but singles are very welcome,” Fearless says. “Couples shouldn’t expect to only engage with each other, either. The event is very social.” 

A section of Rockefeller’s will be dedicated to mingling among singles. There will also be prize giveaways provided by LGBTQ organizations, including tickets to Plezzure Island, a four-day women-only retreat. 

Although formal wear is recommended, the policy will not be strictly enforced and everyone can present as they please. There will also be a zero-tolerance bullying policy, and all restrooms will be labeled gender-neutral. 

“No one has to worry about being gawked at or mocked at this prom,” Fearless says. “Its atmosphere is accepting and inclusive. We have security at all of our events to ensure this.”

There have been two other LGBTQ groups hosting proms in Houston. Each June, the Montrose Center’s Hatch Youth program puts on a prom for queer youth ages 13 through 20. And in July 2017, Party Houston hosted Gay Prom for LGBTQ people 18 and up.

Fearless says she is limiting the Lez Prom event to people who do not identify as men in order to strengthen her community, and for safety reasons. 

“Some women who really like dancing don’t like being approached by men,” Fearless says. “Limiting our guests to the people that the event is created for creates safety inherently.

“Lez Prom is a great place to be if you’re queer and love to dance,” Fearless adds. “Its main purpose is to provide guests with a safe space to do that.”

What: Lez Prom Houston
When: 9 p.m. on May 19
Where: Rockefeller’s, 2620 Washington Ave.
Tickets: tinyurl.com/LezProm

This article appears in the May 2018 edition of OutSmart magazine.

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Lourdes Zavaleta

Lourdes Zavaleta recently graduated from the University of Houston with a degree in journalism. She is a staff writer for OutSmart magazine.
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