For many, UR’s Queer Ball was a first chance to go to a dance as themselves.
“I didn’t go to prom, so it’s just a way to dance,” one sophomore said.
The second annual Queer Ball encouraged an inclusive environment for UR’s LGBTQ community to celebrate their pride and connect with others in a space to be themselves that they didn’t necessarily have before.
“I really love having the ball, because I had nothing like this in high school,” one student said. “To my knowledge, I was the only open, outwardly gay person in my class who was a male, so it’s nice to see a huge gathering of people with the same identity as you.”
The event was hosted by the Pride Network. According to the organizers, it was meant to be a dance “catered to those who belong in the LGBTQ community.” However, the ball was open to everyone.
Queer Ball was held in the the Feldman Ballroom this past Friday, and ran from 8 p.m. to midnight. Returning from last year was DJ Dr. Griffs, who began asking attendees for song requests about an hour into the ball. With their music of choice playing, it was around this time that people began occupying the dance floor.
Last year, the ball was themed “Over the Rainbow,” using a classic American movie reference to symbolize the diversity and pride of the LGBTQ community. This year, the theme was changed to “Avant Gay,” a play on “avant-garde,” a term signifying cultural unorthodoxy.
Another change from last year was funding. The first ball came with an entry fee. SA funding and changes in allocation allowed the organizers to make the ball free to all attendees, removing any financial barriers of entry.
The ball also drew students from the Eastman campus.
“We just thought, like, we’re all LGBT, there’s a gay ball going on ― we should go,” said senior Ethan Mattingly, a student at Eastman.
One student pointed out Eastman’s lack of LGTBQ events.
“There’s very little LGBTQ stuff on Eastman right now,” said junior Elizabeth Easley, another Eastman student.
Easley and Mattingly were accompanied by four others from Eastman. The group came together instead of getting dates, which was one of the ways the ball removed conventional restrictions that would be normal for a prom night.
“We’re the entire Eastman gay community,” one of Easley and Mattingly’s friends said. “No, I’m just joking. It’s just that Eastman is a small school, so we kind of do and also kind of don’t feel a sense of the gay community there.”
At Eastman, Easley is trying to work to get more recognition for LGBTQ representation through events and clubs.
“There’s been a gay club that’s been trying to revive this year, and I’ve been helping with that,” said Easley. “But there’s only four members, it’s very small.”
The openness with which students attended, the lack of attending in pairs, and the free admission for the ball were measures of the event’s success. The ball remains a flagship event for the UR Pride Network.