The Sexuality and Gender Alliance (SAGA) organization at East Carolina University is inviting interested Pirates to their Queer Prom event on April 22 at 6 p.m. in the Main Campus Student Center Black Box Theater.
Aspen Seglund, president of SAGA and sophomore music education major, who goes by they/he pronouns, said students at ECU can get excited for the SAGA Queer Prom.
“Tickets are going to be $20 per person and can be purchased at the ticket office only,” Seglund said. “To purchase the ticket, students have to show their 1Card. Each student can buy two tickets in total.”
Students can look forward to many different things, Seglund said, such as finger foods, photo opportunities at every corner and music with DJ Logan.
Queer Prom is a great opportunity for allied students to connect with the queer community because it’s a big event where people can get together and have fun, Seglund said.
“I'll be completely honest and say that Queer Prom is a passion project of mine,” Seglund said. “When I took over presidency last year, I didn't know what I was doing or what I even wanted to achieve. I came up with Queer Prom and offered the idea to my officer board and everyone seemed excited about it. I'm hoping this will be the first successful Queer Prom of SAGA's history.”
Another reason why this event exists, they said, is because within the queer community, Prom can be a “bitter” subject.
Seglund said many people didn’t have the opportunity to go to their high school prom either because of the COVID-19 pandemic or bigotry.
“Schools have done everything under the sun to keep LGBTQ+ people and couples out of events and even general school days,” Seglund said. “They ban ‘crossdressing’, a group of two people of the same sex, and will generally bully queer students away. It's disheartening to not be able to exist as you are just like everyone else.”
By organizing a Queer Prom event at ECU, Seglund said they hope students can have a night without the fear of hatred or expectations of perfection.
Seglund said SAGA is a free, student led organization and safe space where queer people and allies can come together.
“With this organization, we want to create a space for our community and provide safety,” Seglund said. “At SAGA, anyone can be themselves free of judgment. We want to make sure we can support the queer community here on campus but also invite allies to come and hang out with us.”
In comparison to the Dr. Jesse R. Peel LQBTQ Center, SAGA has the opportunity to call out issues and do advocacy work without answering to the school directly, they said. Due to that, Seglund said SAGA feels a little bit less formal than the Peel Center and can be a great resource for individuals who might feel scared to talk to an authority figure.
Senior Associate Director of Intercultural Affairs at the Dr. Jesse R. Peel LGBTQ Center Mark Rasdorf said SAGA has worked hard to plan and organize the costs of the event to serve the Pirate Nation.
Queer Prom can bring students together in an environment where they can show their true selves without feeling left out, Rasdorf said. Even though this is a campus event, there are many other occasions held throughout the year where community members of Greenville and surrounding areas are more than welcome to join, he said.
“Anyone is welcome to campus,” Rasdorf said. “The Jesse R. Peel LGBTQ Center organizes different get togethers throughout the semesters where not only ECU students but also community members of Greenville and around are invited to join us.”
Dean Long, SAGA vice president and senior art education major, said with Queer Prom coming up, he would like to remind queer people or people struggling with their sexuality that they can reach out to SAGA through their email at any time.
Long said he wants to make sure everyone feels welcome and comfortable, and provide them with the support they deserve. Coming together at a celebration such as Prom is a great way to make new friends and get to know a “great” community.
Other available resources on campus include the Dr. Jesse R. Peel LQBTQ Center and ECU Student Health Services.
“At the Peel Center, students can reach out to either Mark Rasdorf, the director, Rose Bogue, the program coordinator, or use their lending library,” Long said. “There are also pamphlets about supporting trans or gay people, pamphlets about military families and queer children and even Spanish versions of these pamphlets. Anyone can just go to the front desk and ask for help.”
For more information about SAGA’s upcoming events, Pirates can view their calendar on ECU Engage and their Instagram.
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