Five years before Ellen came out as the first lesbian main character on prime-time television, members of Houston’s Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning youth gathered for the very first HATCH Prom.
Eighteen years later, some may question whether the need for a safe and affirming celebration is needed, but when one looks at recent events that catapulted high-school senior Constance McMillen into the public spotlight, the need becomes very clear. Itawamba County School District decided to cancel prom entirely rather than let Constance wear a tuxedo and bring her girlfriend as her date to the high-school prom in Fulton, Mississippi.
Fulton is about 700 miles from Houston and has a population of approximately 4,000. One might assume that GLBT and Questioning youth don’t encounter the same discrimination in the nation’s fourth largest city, not to mention one with a lesbian mayor. But this is not the case. Many HATCH participants report having experienced teasing, harassment, threats, intimidation, and even physical abuse by their peers. In addition, some youth who attend the HATCH prom are home schooled, some attend secular schools, and others travel to Houston from unincorporated or rural areas or small towns for the special event.
The prom is free to all GLBT and Questioning youth between the ages of 13 and 20. The Prom Committee, made up of HATCH youth, chose this year’s theme, “Unmasked: A Masquerade Ball for All!” in the hopes that their peers will enjoy dressing up for the occasion. The dress code includes everything from tuxedos and formal gowns, t-shirts and shorts or jeans, to costume and drag.
The HATCH Prom will be held from 7 p.m. – midnight on Friday, June 11. A special invitation is extended to GLBT adults who may not have had the chance to attend their own high school prom dressed as they wished or with a same-sex date. Anyone 21 or older may attend for a $25 donation at the door.
Throughout the year, HATCH supports local GLBTQ youth by providing them with positive role models, affirming social environments, and educational opportunities. For more information about the HATCH Prom, please call 713.529.3590 or email.