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Students explore their identities through fashion at ASU's Pride Prom

Students got the chance to celebrate their own identities and sexualities through creative and elaborate looks at Polytechnic's second annual Pride Prom


Partygoers on the dance floor during Pride Prom at the Cooley Ballrooms on the Polytechnic Campus in Mesa on Friday, March 31, 2023. 

Self-expression through fashion and style is engrained into LGBTQ+ culture, and at ASU's Pride Prom, students are showing their pride and self-expression through creative and elaborate outfits.

On March 31, Transgender Day of Visibility, students across all campuses came to ASU's second annual Pride Prom, held in the Cooley Ballrooms on the Polytechnic campus.

Some LGBTQ+ students don't have the traditional prom experience due to a lack of acceptance toward their community. Pride Prom is a moment for LGBTQ+ students to celebrate their identities and to have an opportunity to enjoy their own prom.

"High school was a challenging time for a lot of us, especially those of us who were in the closet and couldn't dress how we wanted or dance with who we wanted at prom," Ruby Maderafont, Barrett LGBTQ+ club president and a junior majoring in museum studies said. "With Pride Prom, we get that chance to embrace who we are and who we love."

"I never got to have a prom, they only had it for seniors and when I was a senior, there was COVID so I didn't get to go," Lilith Tuck, a sophomore studying interdisciplinary arts and performance said. 

Sophia Poliansky, a sophomore studying interdisciplinary arts and performance who accompanied Tuck, elaborated, "I also had a similar experience but I love that I’m here tonight. I love that it's an inclusive prom and I know I'm gonna have a good time."

READ MORE: Pride Prom spreads message of inclusivity and self-expression

One way students show pride in their sexual and gender identity is through physical expression: clothes, makeup and hairstyles. Students at Pride Prom wore a variety of outfits, ranging from colorful to all black, casual to elegant. The freedom to dress in any way that is comfortable is a big part of what it means to show pride.

"I wore all black and I decided to add color by doing my mascara in the colors of the rainbow flag," Lex Doig, a freshman studying journalism and mass communication said. "As a non-binary person, most of my fashion is just about comfort. I don't care about gender presentation, I just wear what I feel and that brings me joy."

Many students played up the prom aspect of Pride Prom by dressing elaborately, as you would for a traditional prom. Attendees came wearing their best clothes, from beautiful gowns to colorful tuxedos to extremely creative makeup looks, all expressing their own personal identity.

"I got ready for Pride Prom blasting music, I did my girlfriend's hair, and just getting ready was a lot of fun." Elena Marshall, a freshman studying fashion said. "Fashion to me is a form of self-expression. My personal style has gone through so many different phases and lately I've learned to just become comfortable with who I am and explore fashion as I see fit."

Some chose their outfits to emphasize or reflect their gender identity.

READ MORE: Mindful garments: sustainable fashion at ASU

"I identify as trans masculine, but I dress femininely because I don't really care about clothes being assigned to gender," Dakota Allred, a freshman studying aerospace engineering, said. "I'm trans because I don't identify with a female body but if I want to wear a skirt, I'll wear a skirt because it looks good on me, and I feel comfortable in it."

For hundreds of years, LGBTQ+ activists have fought for the right to dress and express themselves how they choose. While much progress has been made toward allowing people the right to be true to themselves in their appearance, LGBTQ+ activists and allies continue to fight for the freedom to explore gender expression in fashion and personal aesthetic. 

Today, ASU hosts a series of Pride events meant simply to allow students that freedom of expression.

"Pride Prom and other spring Pride events offer an opportunity for students to express themselves, dressing up and feeling fabulous and free without judgment," Maderafont said.

Pride Prom itself was a celebration of identity. Students spent the night dancing in incredible outfits, decorating themselves in glow-in-the-dark jewelry, eating and spending time with their fellow LGBTQ+ and allied classmates. 

Most importantly, Pride Prom is a chance for LGBTQ+ students at ASU to have fun and enjoy being around people who are part of their community. With some LGBTQ+ students missing the chance to experience key memories like prom due to challenges related to their identities and experiencing high school during the pandemic, Pride Prom is a chance to spend a night in a space that is positive, accepting and uplifting. 

Edited by Claire van Doren, Reagan Priest and Caera Learmonth.

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