Pride Prom provides redeeming celebration

Common Ground, Bradley’s gay-straight student alliance organization, will host its first-ever “Pride Prom” at 6 p.m. tomorrow in Peplow Pavilion. According to Common Ground president Gabrielle Hogan, the celebration is meant to provide Bradley’s LGBT+ community and its allies with welcoming end-of-the-year festivities.

“No one really wants to go to anything super stressful, so it’s a really nice way to end the semester on a nice, happy note,” Hogan said. “Also, I know that for a lot of LGBT people, their high school prom might not have been a good experience because they couldn’t be out, or they were out, and they were ridiculed for it … It’s kind of an opportunity to redeem that experience and turn it into something positive.”

The idea to host Pride Prom has been percolating since spring 2016, according to Hogan.

“This is the biggest event Common Ground has done in recent years,” Hogan said. “We contacted a variety of other Illinois colleges, like [Illinois State University], Knox College, Illinois Wesleyan University and others. We didn’t just want it to be a Bradley thing; we wanted it to be a whole Central Illinois thing.”

The event will feature a dessert bar, music and a dance floor. But Hogan said Common Ground wanted to make the event more entertaining – so drag performers from across Central Illinois will also perform at Pride Prom.

“A lot of local queens, many from Bloomington-Normal, will perform throughout the night, but not in a drag show way,” Hogan said. “They’ll perform and everyone will be allowed to dance with them and dance around to amp up the atmosphere.”

For many students who plan to attend, Pride Prom will be exactly what Hogan envisioned.

“I know that when I was in high school, I hated prom,” Cori Anderson, a junior English major, said. “I didn’t like the guy that I decided to go with, and I went to an incredibly conservative school where going with a girl I liked was impossible. Being in high school and not being out was really lonely, so I’m excited to go to Pride Prom to just hang out with some cool people and have a good time.”

Hogan said she wants to make sure campus understands Pride Prom is an event for everyone.

“I think we have a lot of very vocal, diverse organizations on campus, but they’re all kind of this weird ideology where, ‘If I’m not LGBT, I can’t go to the LGBT events. If I’m not black, I can’t go to the [Black Student Alliance] events,’” Hogan said. “An event like this is sort of supposed to show that it’s a campus-wide thing. Everyone can be involved; everyone can recognize the importance of the community.”

Anderson said Pride Prom will have a positive effect on Bradley’s campus – for those in attendance and the larger university community.

“I think it’s important for events like these to happen at Bradley because it shows that we’re willing to make an effort to be inclusionary,” Anderson said. “It also shows students that there are places where they can just be themselves.

Attendees must reserve tickets online at prideprom.org.

Tickets are free for Bradley students and $10 for non-Bradley students. Two tickets purchased together is $15.