Live Your Queer High-School Fantasy at the Girls, Gays, and Theys Prom

Kaily LaChapelle poses in a sleek tuxedo at their 2021 high school prom.
Kaily LaChapelle poses in a sleek tuxedo at their 2021 high school prom. Photo courtesy of Kaily LaChapelle
It took years of courage and discrimination for LGBTQ advocate Kaily LaChapelle to chop their hair and wear a tuxedo for their high school prom — a bleak reality for many queer students.

Miami's first-annual Girls, Gays, and Theys Prom aims to abolish this narrative with drag, DJs, and an inclusive "dress-to-impress" attire.

The 21-and-over event, organized by lesbian-centered event companies Lezplay Bae and Mrly Entertainment, encourages all members of the LGBTQ community to relive their prom fantasy, but this time without a restrictive dress code.

LaChapelle, who graduated high school in June 2021, now studies international relations and political science at Florida International University while continuing their advocacy as president of the school's Pride Student Union. But they struggled to find support from classmates throughout high school due to their androgynous gender expression.

"High school started really rough. I was the first out person in my entire school when it came to sexuality and gender identity," LaChapelle says. "I think a lot of people were confused because there wasn't a lot of representation of people who looked like me."

LaChapelle's move from small-town Woodstock, Connecticut, to Miami last year was a breath of fresh air.

"My freshman year was hard because my parents and some classmates were very against me wearing clothes that were not 'from the female department,'" LaChapelle recounts. "It's much easier to sort of fit in now, but I used to even find people to drive me to stores just to buy the clothes I wanted."

More than 75 percent of LGBTQ students reported hearing "homophobic remarks" while at school, according to GLSEN's (the Gay and Lesbian Independent School Teachers Network) 2017 National School Climate Survey.

For LaChapelle, it was no different.

While representation has grown across the media since then, Mrly Anderson, owner of Mrly Entertainment, hopes the prom can provide a safe space to connect all intersections of the community, especially those with gender expressions that diverge from the norm.

"I feel like it encompasses everybody; it's just so inclusive," Anderson emphasizes. "Whatever you are — lesbian, gay, trans, nonbinary, even if you identify as a pup or furry, I don't care — just come, dance, have fun, and express who you are."

The all-queer prom will host some of Miami's most sickening drag queens and DJs holding it down on Saturday, July 30, from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. at the Adrienne Arsht Center.

Anderson brought the concept to fruition last year when she noticed a dwindling scene of queer nightlife in the city.

"I started realizing there's a load of people who never got to really enjoy their childhood and the excitement of going to prom," she notes. "Some of them might not even be comfortable going out and expressing themselves as an adult still."

While both LaChapelle and Anderson attended their proms, it took educating their peers, families, and school administration to truly embrace their identities.

Anderson recalled her ex-girlfriend's struggle to embrace her gender-expansive wardrobe — something straight, cisgender people often take for granted, she says.

"She wasn't allowed to dress how she wanted because her grandparents had different expectations," she says. "Some people never got to dress how they wanted because they were in the closet, scared to look like an outsider, or afraid to be judged. That's what makes this all worthwhile now."

Girls, Gays, and Theys Prom. 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. Saturday, July 30, at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, 1300 Biscayne Blvd., Miami; Tickets cost $60.
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