UMD Pride Alliance hosts annual “Pride Prom”

To wrap up Pride Month and celebrate queer experiences, members of the University of Maryland’s Pride Alliance held Pride Prom April 30th.

About 50 people came out to the event in the Prince George’s Ballroom of Stamp to dance, view drag performances, listen to spoken word poetry and participate in discussion on queer topics.

The social chair for Pride Alliance, Jamaal McCray, hosted the event along with club president Sam Sauter.

“I was in awe of all the performances…UMD holds it down,” said McCray who attended Pride Prom for the first time this year.

Michael Ekstrom, a junior computer science major, said the prom is the most highlighted event of the Pride Month calendar. “It’s nice to see student performances and people that you recognize.”

Pride Alliance Treasurer and Historian Rahleigh Joyner said the organization started planning in January to develop the performances and incorporate intersectionality, this Pride Month’s theme. He said this year’s prom was a success regardless of complications with receiving funding from the university’s Student Government Association.

“I kind of like the idea of us moving away from requesting money from SGA … and just doing it ourselves,” said Joyner. While the freedom to choose their own performers and set their own budget was appreciated, Joyner mentioned the organization’s trouble with interacting with the crowd.

“At places like Town, they walk up to complete strangers and rip their shirts off, but you can’t do that here. There are boundaries that I don’t want to cross… I don’t want to walk up to a stranger and make them uncomfortable,” he said.

Joyner also spoke on the general atmosphere of queer culture in the area. “There’s queer culture on campus, but no real queer culture in College Park,” he said. In the past, the Pride Alliance has held merger events with LGBT organizations at UMBC to combat that problem.

Senior Environmental Science Policy major Benjamin Shapiro said “There’s always gay things going on but it’s different when it’s through the university because people don’t drink and it doesn’t go too late.”

The official dance went on until about 10 p.m. when McCray and other members of the Pride Alliance took to the dance floor for a self-proclaimed after party. “It’s a more casual experience,” said Shapiro.

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