Shreveport Q-Prom: A Celebration of Family
Updated: Jun 7, 2019
“It’s the community’s gathering.”
For Steven Knight, co-creator of Shreveport Q-Prom (happening June 8), the mission has been just that — bringing Shreveport/Bossier City’s queer community together including allies and the families who support them.
"For me, it’s never been just a pure focus on just the queer community but the people who surround them and support them, as well,” he said. "Having that family there is important. Because we do get to make our own family.”
Q-Prom is Shreveport’s answer to the most inclusive adult prom a person can attend. Q-Prom means "queer prom;" this one is 18+ and is maintaining an ally inclusiveness for straight friends and family members. Given that it was partially created by LGBTQIA+ individuals, the event coordinators hope to break away from the stereotype of traditional high school proms by ditching things like royalty and specifically focusing on the aspect of making positive memories. Paired with an optional sold out dinner, live music and drinks for those old enough, it’s the perfect prom night.
"This is the first in depth thing we’ve done,” said co-creator Sam Ortiz, a social worker for the Philadelphia Center and a member of PACE. She’s also active with Shreveport’s annual Pride in the Park alongside her wife, Nicole.
Sam said that the idea had run across her and Nicole’s mind a few years back, so when Steven approached her about doing this event she felt like it was serendipitous.
"The biggest draw for me is that is that it really gives people a second chance to be whoever they are now,” she said. "I feel like who I was in high school was not the real me, that was someone else who went to prom. … "
Prom, as anyone can attest, can bring up daunting memories of the past. As a queer person, if you aren’t out or you aren’t comfortable taking the person you want to go with, it can feel empty. Add the pressures of buying/renting formal attire, corsages, dinner, photos and everything else, we’re talking nightmare levels. For some it’s totally unimportant and for others is a rite of passage.
Steven, who is openly gay, went to prom with a group of his closest friends. He came out his senior year and chose not to take a male date. Even though he was comfortable with himself, he still had fears of being truly open with his peers. Looking back now he says he would have tried to be braver, but that kids in high school, for lack of better words, just suck.
Steven has been an active member of the community focusing most of his efforts into Prize Fest alongside Chris Lyon, who also is helping with this event. He has also created content for Heliopolis, something he said encouraged him when trying be more expressive and visible about his experiences in the city as an LGBT person of color.
“It was important to me to not just be like, ‘Dang, I don’t feel a part of the community. I don’t see a lot of people like myself doing things in the community and I really want to,' instead of just being upset about it, but activate and do something or at least take steps towards doing things that could gradually become something we all can enjoy,” he said. "I don’t know why it had to be a prom, but it just felt like this was something I really wanted to be a part of.”
Q-Prom’s theme for the evening is Glitz & Grunge, a nod to the 80s and 90s. Attendees are encouraged to adorn themselves in the weird, colorful and bold. Proceeds from the evening will go to benefit local non-profit, Project Celebration, whose goal is to help individuals and families dealing with domestic abuse enhance their ability to live successfully in the community by providing education and advocacy.
“Every ounce of profit will go toward them,” said Sam. “Project Celebration does a lot of work with the LGBT community. Domestic violence is something that isn’t really touched on a lot. There’s a lot of erasure. Domestic violence against men isn’t talked about."
Q-Prom is not the first LGBTQIA+ inclusive prom to come our area, but the hope is that this one will continue as an annual Pride Month (June) event. The creators want business owners in the area to look at this as a valuable community building tool.
"[We’re] helping businesses to see how important it is to invest in all facets of their community and how important it is to have open doors,” said Steven. "You find that family and that connection whenever you know where your money is best spent, where you’re safest. … To grow a Pride month here, to invest in that community and hopefully businesses when they look at this place, there’s an open mindedness to people who are not like everyone else. That they feel comfortable introducing new ideas into a city people because they see a thriving LGBT community here.”
Some collaborators and sponsors of the event include Fat Calf Bourcherie, Abby Singer’s Bistro, Advanced Laser Clinics of Shreveport and Sweet Tee Shreveport.
Sam said she would love to see more members of the LGBTQIA+ community stay here for Pride month instead of leaving for alternative Pride events. She said between events like Q-Prom and Queerport 2019, we’re leading the way in creating a new kind of culture for Pride month.
“I think that’s not coincidence both of these things came out wanting to better Shreveport,” she said. "There is a thriving community showing that we’re a big part of Shreveport and we want to stay here.”