ROCKVILLE, MD. Say the word P-R-O-M and different emotions come from different people. For most, it is a magical night of dressing up and feeling your personal best amongst your friends and classmates. For some, “feeling your best” is not an option because they do not feel they can attend prom as their authentic selves. Unfortunately, many LGBTQ students fall into this category. As such, events called Pride Proms have caught on in recent years across the country. On Friday, June 8, Montgomery County Maryland held their third Pride Prom, and the Washington, DC chapter of ONE teamed up with MoCo LGBTQ Youth Forum to ensure it was the best one yet.
The collaboration presented "This is Me!," a Pride Prom for LGBTQ+ high schoolers and their dates. Amidst many other activities during Pride month, this special event stood out as a heartfelt way to give back to the community and provide, as one participant said, "a safe prom for my friends and I to just be us!" Another attendee even came in from Charles County and said, "So pleased to have something I could come to. There are not many, if any options, in my area."
All three proms have been spearheaded by Janine Rauscher, Coordinator with MoCo LGBTQ Youth Forum, which have been previously been held in the multipurpose room at Rockville United Church. Doubling the attendance from previous years, almost 50 area students gussied up and boogied down at the beautiful Nancy H. Dacek North Potomac Community Recreation Center in Rockville, MD. Opposite the large dance floor were decorated tables where students could enjoy the appetizers and sweet treats available for the evening. Gold, silver and black balloons filled the room to tie in the "This is Me!" theme from feature film, The Greatest Showman. Rauscher exclaimed, "It would not have been possible without Marriott's ONE DC chapter this year! The kids had a blast and everything looked amazing!"
Local ONE members, marshaled by DC chapter volunteer coordinator Nina Davis, raised funds and volunteered their time to set up and chaperone the event. New this year, a ONE member and a volunteer from the MoCo Pride Center provided their talents as bartenders, delivering popular "mocktails" inspired by both the film and Pride. This proved to be quite popular with the attendees as the prom went late into the evening while they jammed to music provided by DJ 'Zo. The prom was also emceed by guest Jimmy Alexander from the Jack Diamond Morning Show and the mix107.3 street team.
"Collaborating with the MoCo LGBTQ Youth Forum on this Pride Prom fits right into one of ONE's core values of having an open network that fosters community involvement," said ONE Chairperson, Brad Benton. "We could not be more pleased to have helped in making this year's Pride Prom a success, and ONE's DC chapter looks forward to doing it again next year. Everyone deserves a prom they can fully participate in."
ONE plans to assist in next year's Pride Prom. If you would like more information or would like to donate or get involved, please contact the MoCo LGBTQ Youth Forum or email firstname.lastname@example.org
ONE is the official lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender, queer, and straight ally associate network of Marriott International, Inc. comprising Marriott associates and franchise employees. Since its inception in November 2010 by 15 founding members, the group has cultivated a focus to serve as a voice for LGBTQ associates and their allies, as well as to create a supportive network for a community that had no formal representation before within the company.
With over 2,400 volunteer members in 20+ chapters around the world, ONE continues to move forward in seeking new ways to:
Develop community among members
Increase the diversity mindset to include LGBTQ issues, and
Assist in unleashing revenue opportunities with concentrated marketing and sales efforts within the LGBTQ community
ONE embodies Marriott’s long-standing commitment to diversity and inclusion within its own membership. Over 56 percent of ONE’s membership is made up of straight allies. Sixty percent are women and close to 10% of members live outside of the United States.
Associate Networks within Marriott International are ongoing, associate-initiated teams that form around a broad range of common interests. These networks provide the opportunity to informally connect with other associates in order to grow both personally and professionally. These teams are self-directed and funded by their members.
To learn more please go to www.onemarriott.com; like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter @onemarriott, Instagram and LinkedIn. Statements or articles posted by ONE are not official positions or opinions of Marriott International.
ONE - Chairperson
About MoCo LGBTQ Youth Forum
MoCo LGBTQ Youth Forum is a safe space for all Montgomery County LGBTQ+ youth. Supported by a coalition consisting of Equality Maryland, Rainbow Youth Alliance, Rockville United Church and Honorary Nieces and Nephews, the Forum hosts social and education events throughout the year. Visit their website at www.mocoyouthforum.lgbt or follow them on Facebook or Twitter @MoCoLGBTQYouth