Prom 2018: All The Trends We Expect To See On The Big Night

We’ll never know, because the push fizzled — but the idea that I might go to prom had been planted. Maybe it was finally time to stop being so cynical. Maybe I needed to break the habit of isolating myself and recognize that I might not be as misunderstood as I thought. Maybe going to a function so centered on gender roles as an unapologetically gender-fluid student was the best way to make people like me visible to the rest of the school. And yes, maybe it was a chance to publicly claim who I am after three years of being forced to present myself as what my parents viewed as feminine.

Also, it seemed like a great chance to dress up. Everyone has a personality quirk: mine is vanity.

My suit was provided through a service that gives prom clothing to homeless and low-income youth. It came with black pants, a gray shirt and a red necktie. With some of the extra spending money I’d made from busking downtown, I went to Goodwill and bought a burgundy blazer to finish off the outfit and dyed my hair to match.

When I put all of this on the night of the dance, it felt right. A couple of my friends had given me a chest binder; for once, my chest lay flat and no longer bothered me. I hardly ever wear makeup, but that night I completed my look by darkening my eyebrows and eyelashes just slightly. Even that felt right. I felt prom-ready and confident.

I wasn’t sure what to expect at prom. I thought school dances would be full of things like grind circles. In the end, I didn’t see a single one. I danced from group to group. At one point, I even started swing dancing with one of my friends, though he didn’t technically know how. In short, I had a good time.

The decision to attend prom is an individual choice for every student. I know there are other L.G.B.T.Q. students out there who have thought that prom isn’t for them. But I’d encourage those who are out and comfortable to think about it. I believe the big fights for equality around L.G.B.T.Q. issues, such as hate violence, homelessness and economic fairness, can’t be won unless we fight the smaller ones along the way: the ones that parents tell you to shrug off and school administrators tell you to live with, including that homecoming courts contain kings and queens, and prom dress codes must involve either dresses or suits. There is so much change to work for.

I showed up at an event that has historically been bent on sorting students into gender categories — boys and girls — and I managed to go as myself. That felt like a victory. Later that night, I got into a dance-off with a guy I’d never met. No one was technically judging, but I think I won.

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My Gender-Fluid Senior Prom
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