The following is a letter to the editor, published here as opinion. The opinions expressed in this letter are those of the writer. If you would like to submit a letter to the editor feel free to write to [email protected].
Editor’s note: The following is a letter from Izzy Kirsch, Peer Support Counselor at Redwood Community Services’ Arbor Youth Resource Center and coordinator of the Queer Prom Planning Committee.
Our local nonprofits, Redwood Community Services’ The Arbor’s Youth Coalition and Mendocino County Public Health, are excited to announce the 6th annual Queer Prom 2023!! Open to ages 12 up to 24, it will take place in June 2023 at Bartlett Hall, 495 Leslie Street, Ukiah.
Queer Prom is an annual sober LGBTQIA2S+ youth-centered event that was started locally in 2015 by Kathrine Fengler, a veteran queer mentor for LGBTQIA2S+ youth and adults throughout Mendocino County. She and her rag-tag committee of queer kids planned, set up, hosted, and took down what would become one of the most influential local youth events in this part of Mendocino County.
This unforgettable night welcomes all youth ages 12 – 24 and consists of dancing, karaoke, dinner and refreshments, a drag performance and hours of profound connections being made amongst youth in need of that sense of community. For many young LGBTQIA2S+ people, this night is their first dance, their first drag show, the first time they performed in front of a live audience or even the first night they truly found a space where they felt they belonged. It’s a completely youth lead event that goes beyond the expectations of any standard traditional school prom. The blended community of youth that attend bring with them a cozy welcoming open mindedness that could make anyone feel like they are exactly where they’re meant to be.
Queer Prom is an important tradition to more than just the LGBTQIA2S+ community of Mendocino County. Here in Ukiah, where the event takes place, there is a remarkable lack of youth-centered events and activities. As a wine country town, youth needs can become consistently overlooked when our biggest local focus caters only to people 21 and older. This has caused our youth to seek entertainment and belonging in other indulgences such as drugs, alcohol, and gang affiliation.
Queer Prom is one of the few activities that our youth have throughout their year that encourages them to enjoy their time sober and united. This single night is an event that our community counts down the days for. Whether it’s the excitement of picking out a costume, planning your song selections for karaoke or just getting involved in an incredibly fun community event, our local youth love, cherish and need Queer Prom and all events like it.
As a Mendocino County community member, we are so grateful for your participation in the production of one of the most exciting and important youth summer kick off events of the year!
Your involvement is critical to our success! Thank you again for your help.
Donations to support the 2023 Queer Prom can be made here.