Neon lights whirled around the room. Bodies crowded onto the dance floor. Rainbows were draped over every surface: tables, walls, doorframes and quite a few of the guests. People moved to the beat, chatted with friends or perused tables full of desserts.
The third annual Bradley Pride Prom took place from 7-10 p.m. Saturday in the Hayden-Clark Alumni Center Ballroom.
“I had a really good time,” Kaylee Cechini, a sophomore English major, said. “It was really well planned. There was a photo booth, there was snacks, good music, fun dancing … I requested songs three times and they didn’t play my music, that’s my only qualm.”
The dance was organized by Common Ground, Bradley’s LGBTQ Straight Alliance.
In addition to Pride Prom, Common Ground hosts educational meetings on topics like LGBTQ history and hormone therapy. It brings in speakers like Jim Obergefell, the plaintiff in the 2015 Supreme Court case that ultimately led to marriage equality. The group also hosts the occasional game night. Pride Prom is the organization’s biggest event.
“[The planning process] usually starts almost immediately after the last one ends,” said Melissa Dillon, the current president of Common Ground. “This is my second term as president, so the minute the last one ended, I kind of started getting the budget together, filling out [a] lot of forms, and just kind of contacting people who we knew we would need to talk to.”
Most of the funding for the event came from the Student Activities Budget Review Committee, SABRC, but donation buckets were set out at the entrances, raising about $157 for the Center For Prevention of Abuse.
Seventy Bradley students attended, with an additional 20 or 30 from colleges and LGBTQ organizations in the area.
Attendee Nicki Eckland, junior English and international studies double major, thought Pride Prom succeeded in its aim.
“I thought it was a good opportunity to allow students to express themselves in ways that they might not have felt comfortable doing in high school,” Eckland said.
The idea for Pride Prom came from former Common Ground president Allison Newton.
“A lot of people didn’t get to go to prom with someone that they were genuinely romantically interested in, or they didn’t get to go presenting as the gender they felt most comfortable, or wearing clothes they felt comfortable in,” Dillon, a junior history and social studies major, said. “And so this way people get to have that experience in a room surrounded by people they know they’re going to be accepted by.”