Prom Without the Pretense: Diversity Prom Comes to Campus

Penguins only from logo
Photo provided by YSUnity.

Old Hollywood, live music and an open, accepting wild party await those attending YSUnity’s Diversity Prom Friday, Oct. 10. Tickets are on sale now for $5 and it is open to the public.

Offering the opportunity to go to prom with whoever you wish, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation or any other attribute, the Diversity Prom is meant to provide a venue for couples of any makeup to be themselves and enjoy an evening of entertainment.

Tim Bortner, the president of YSUnity, hopes to see the prom filled with couples from all walks of life.

“The Diversity Prom is a place where you can be yourself, without judgment. It’s not just for gay people … you can go with whoever you want, without feeling as though you’re doing something wrong,” Bortner said.

The event, created by former YSUnity president Lisa Ronquillo and Bortner, is in its second year.

Prior to last year’s inaugural event, Ronquillo and Bortner held an informal survey of the YSUnity members, asking how many of them had attended their high school proms. The pair found few had attended prom, and even fewer went with the person they would have ideally accompanied. For most, they chose not to attend primarily because they could not attend with their ideal date.

Seeking to provide an alternative for those who missed their opportunity, YSUnity joined forces with Erin Driscoll, associate director of residence life; William Blake of the Office of Student Diversity Programs; Joy Byers, the director of Campus Recreation, and Equality Ohio, a statewide human rights organization, to formulate and execute the event.

The prom’s inaugural run had an old-time carnival theme, embracing the image of the prom as a place where people could let their inner “freak” out.

“Everyone’s a freak nowadays, and we wanted to celebrate that,” Bortner said.

This year, the prom will feature a vintage Hollywood theme: a mock red carpet photo shoot for willing participants, movie themed decor, gift raffles and a live performance by Nashville-based musician Korby Lenker. Theater food, such as pizza and popcorn, will be available at the event.

While the event’s primary purpose is to have fun and raise awareness, Christina Yovick, YSUnity vice president, also sees the prom as an opportunity to fundraise.

“Our goal this year includes using the funds raised at the prom to bring speakers and performers to campus to educate the YSU campus about LGBTQIA rights and issues,” Yovick said.

Last year’s prom was a success for YSUnity, selling over 100 tickets to the event, and quickly became one of the most important annual events for the organization.

“The prom has quickly become a top priority for YSUnity. The Diversity Prom serves as the largest YSUnity event over the academic year … we anticipate roughly 250 people to attend,” Yovick said.

The Diversity Prom will be the final event for “Coming Out Week,” a week of awareness focusing on LGBTQIA issues and culminating with National Coming Out Day on Oct. 11. YSUnity will welcome lecturers from regional and international non-violence and human rights organizations, as well as presenters from the transgender and bisexual community, run information tables and host interactive programs — such as the NOH8 photo shoot — as part of the week’s events.

YSUnity hopes to grow the event in ticket sales and its cultural influence.

“I would love to see [the Diversity Prom] get bigger and bigger, and to see it involve more campuses,” Bortner said.

Tickets to the Diversity Prom can be purchased online at YSUnity’s website for $5 or purchased at the door for $6.