As a freshman in high school, I couldn’t wait to attend my first prom. I imagined dancing around the room in my slender sparkly gown to romantic music (most likely something from Boys to Men), with a handsome man, under dimmed lights, and surrounded by over-the-top decorations.
I had it all planned out. We would go to a fancy dinner, ride a limo with a huge group of friends, dance all night long, and make out on the dance floor before heading back to his place to lose our virginities. Isn’t that everyone’s plan?
As a high school senior, three years later, forty pounds heavier and my virginity already lost, I found myself dressed in a plus-sized, royal blue, polyester gown, accompanied by a lineman-sized boyfriend, and avoiding friends I no longer liked while sweating from parts of my body I didn’t know existed due to a hotel ballroom lacking air conditioning. After an hour of watching sweat drip from his face onto his ill-fitting tuxedo, we left the party.
Needless to say, my first prom experience was memorable, but for the wrong reasons. Ironically, I married my prom date five years later before realizing that, not only had I invited the wrong person to prom, I had also invited the wrong person to the altar.
Last Saturday, nearly twenty years after my disastrous prom experience, I had an opportunity to relive prom with my wife, Fay, at Project No Label’s One Love: Prom in Wonderland event.
The organization’s goal was to create a prom experience for LGBTQ+ community members who may have skipped their first prom or attended a prom, but not as their authentic selves or with their preferred partner.
This time, I was determined to have a magical evening.
Prom preparations started with the selection of Fay’s outfit – a black suit, lavender tuxedo shirt, black cummerbund, black bowtie with lavender crystals, finished with black shoes and black and silver cufflinks.
Then it was my turn to get glamorous. My pre-prom makeover kicked off at Kevyn R Salon with a trim and color. As usual, Kevyn did an incredible job and I left with a sexy short ‘do and a splash of lavender in my bangs.
Next, I had my nails and toes painted lavender to match my hair and Fay’s shirt and bowtie.
Although the theme of the evening was Mad Hatter, I decided to wear an elegant, slimming, and practical dress rather than fuss over costumes, crazy makeup, and uncomfortable shoes. Fortunately, I already owned the perfect gown for the occasion – an empire-waist dress with a gold-sequined top and a two-layered black skirt with a see-through overlay. I finished the look off with gold and black chunky jewelry and sparkly gold sandals.
After putting on my sexy, yet subtle, makeup, I slipped into my gown and shoes and we headed out the door.
It’s a long story and one for another day, but proms and limos bring up not-so-great memories, so Fay and I Ubered to the Kimpton Zamora where the party was held.
The rooftop party was hopping by the time we arrived. Party-goers were dressed in a variety of outfits, from jeans and t-shirts to sexy Queen of Hearts costumes, while dancing to music by DJ NFX and surrounded by brightly painted mushrooms reminiscent of Wonderland.
We made our way to the bar to order drinks (something I never thought legally possible at prom), snapped selfies, and mingled with friends.
As a bonus, Celestial Raine, Spiritual Advisor, read our tarot cards in the VIP section. According to Celestial Raine, I’m on the right path and with the right person. Phew! That’s a relief!
For dinner, we ate at the hotel’s Castile Restuarant. Although a bit pricey and lacking seasoning, the food was beautifully presented and the company divine.
We finished the evening back on the rooftop to celebrate the crowing of Royal Court members Ashley Brundage and Amanda Grau, then said goodbye to our friends as we hailed our Uber home.
As we laid our tired bodies on our bed and our heads on our pillows, we were reminded that we are no longer teenagers, and prom, although magical and worth sharing with the right person, is an exhausting and expensive experience – and we would have been more comfortable wearing jeans.
Still, Project No Labels’ Prom in Wonderland was a memorable evening – and for all of the right reasons.