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Kayla Missman

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Dancing all night, dressing up, voting for prom kings and queens — it sounds like high school.

But Pride Prom, taking place on April 18, is exactly the opposite of the awkwardness that surrounds adolescent school dances. After all, it’s about embracing your identity, said Adam Serafin, Pride Center assistant coordinator.

“The students look forward to it every year,” he said. “It’s a big dance party, so the atmosphere is just fun and students feel really valued and free to be themselves at prom, which is really cool to see.”

Like most Cross Cultural Centers events, Pride Prom was organized by a team of students, including mechanical engineering sophomore Jenny Caudillo. She had planned her prom in high school, and enjoyed it so much she wanted to help with Pride Prom.

Caudillo expects approximately 100-150 people to attend. The best parts, she said, are the decorations and the opportunity for people to vote for prom court.

Pride Prom lands in the middle of Pride Month, a celebration of Cal Poly’s LGBTQIA population, Serafin said. The overall goal of the month is to highlight different identities and break down stereotypes, he said, in addition to providing opportunities for students to get connected.

“Pride month is a celebration of our LGBTQIA community here at Cal Poly, and it’s really an opportunity to celebrate and to really build community, expand our community and just connect with other people,” he said.

There’s always positive feedback about Pride Month, Serafin said, specifically that it’s fun, exciting and shows the campus’ appreciation for its LGBTQIA population.

The month’s festivities are tied together with the theme “Empowered with Pride,” and they cover a broad range of activities. There are several opportunities for people who are not involved in the LGBTQIA community to learn more, Serafin said, as well as events that cater to and support students who have certain identities.

Other than Pride Prom, the largest events were the Trans* Fashion Show and panel, which included trans-identified students speaking about their experiences in an effort to educate those who aren’t familiar with the transgender community, he said. Both events had a good turnout.

“A lot of the events that we do are social in nature,” Serafin said. “We try to cast a wide net and get different people involved that might not be connected to the Pride Center or any sort of queer programming or services on or off campus.”

This year, the Pride Center made an effort to have more off-campus events to increase community involvement. They also partnered with the faculty and staff association. Serafin said they were pleased with the support they’ve received outside the Cross Cultural Centers.

Until a few years ago, the events were all packed into a single week, rather than spread out over the course of a month, Serafin said. Though it’s still a lot of work, it’s easier to manage when the activities aren’t in such quick succession, he said. Planning for the month began as early as November, with organization going into full gear in January.

A full calendar of events is available on the Pride Center’s website. All students are welcome to attend Pride Prom, which will be in in the Christopher Cohan Performing Arts Center Pavilion from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. Tickets are $10 at the door.

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