Queer Prom! invites students to celebrate their identities and mingle in Norris


Jorge Melendez/The Daily Northwestern

NU’s Rainbow Alliance put on Queer Prom! on Friday to celebrate queer inclusivity.

Iris Swarthout, Senior Staffer

When Weinberg sophomore Rachel Ruddy toured Loyola University Chicago in high school, she was drawn to a poster advertising The Queer Fall Ball. At the time, Ruddy said, she would have loved to attend the event.

Though Ruddy didn’t end up at Loyola-Chicago, her wish became a reality at NU. Friday night, Ruddy and other members of Northwestern’s Rainbow Alliance — an inclusive organization for NU’s queer community — hosted Queer Prom! The event invited queer people at NU for a night of dancing, food, board games and movies on the second floor of Norris University Center. 

Rainbow Alliance Internal President and Weinberg junior Jordan Vaughn said the event was a chance for queer individuals to embrace their identities in a welcoming environment. NU’s Queer Prom! came back this year after a multi-year hiatus prior to the pandemic, Vaughn added.

“A lot of people got their (high school) prom taken away from them by COVID,” she said. “(Also,) queer students might have not felt comfortable going to their high school prom, or … dress the way they wanted to or be out as much as they wanted.”

As internal programming chair in Rainbow Alliance, Ruddy oversaw the booking and catering for Queer Prom!

The prom was bigger than any event the organization has put on in her memory, Ruddy said.

“I had support from the president and the treasurer and the other members of exec to work day by day towards this ultimate goal, which ended up being successful,” she said.

The event had a four room set-up in Norris, with a dancing space, a food space and a screening room showing “Shrek” and “How to Train Your Dragon.” The final room was filled with activities like UNO and Cards Against Humanity. 

NU catered the event, which is a requirement for events booked at Norris, Vaughn said. The cupcakes, however, were delivered from Jenivee’s Bakery, an LGBTQ+ owned and operated business in Chicago’s Boystown, she said.

As for the music, Vaughn said student DJ JD performed Doja Cat, Beyonce and Lady Gaga songs, along with classics like Cupid Shuffle. DJ Intranet, another student musician, took over for the second half of the night. 

Rainbow Alliance member and McCormick junior Jazmyn Lu said she enjoyed mingling with other queer people at NU.

“It was just a fun way to … see people for the first time because before a lot of the queer community used to just be on Twitter, or online spaces,” she said. “So having everybody come together (in person) felt like it was a Twitter convention.”

While high school prom felt more like a “photo-op,” Lu said Queer Prom! felt more like a space to build community. 

Lu also said the prom stood out from other Rainbow Alliance events because it involved dressing up.

The “Under the Sea” theme was a good excuse for students to create specialized outfits, Vaughn said. Since she never attended her high school prom, they were happy to enjoy it during her college years.

“Gay people love to dress up, what can I say,” they said.

Vaughn added that though the set-up process was hefty, community members all pitched in to put on an inclusive event anyone could enjoy.

“The few people that did show up early also volunteered to help finish up decorations, and that was really sweet,” Vaughn said. “It was a nice community building effort of ‘Let’s all help put these cupcakes in boxes and finish up the streamers, so we can all enjoy them later.’”

Email: [email protected] 

Twitter: @swarthout_iris

Related Stories:

Rainbow Alliance, UCM host interfaith LGBTQ+ panel on queerness and faith

Multicultural Student Affairs, Rainbow Alliance emphasize healing for Queer and Trans Empowerment Month

Defining Safe: Rainbow Alliance speaks on importance of pronouns