“Hi! I’m a female junior in high school who asked a girl to prom last week (she said yes!) but I am not out as bisexual to my parents. My parents are both conservative and neither pro-gay nor anti-gay (at least, I think!) They believe I’m going to prom alone, and I’m struggling with whether I should come out before prom or afterwards. If I tell them before, I risk them flipping out and disallowing me from going; if I tell them after, they might think I was lying/being dishonest about prom. Help!”
- Question submitted by Anonymous
OKAY OKAY SORRY THAT WAS MY FIRST IMPULSE, LET’S TALK THROUGH THIS LIKE TWO ADULTS.
The reason that I shouted “lie!” at your face is because I cannot bear to think about you not getting to go to your prom with this wonderful girl that you’ve asked and who has said yes! This is a wonderful thing! I am so excited! I want to go to prom again! AHHH!
The reason that I hesitated with my initial impulse is because, like you, I don’t want your parents to think you are being dishonest. However, I don’t think this is as simple as plain ol’ “dishonesty.” It isn’t like you are telling your parents that you are sleeping at a friend’s house so you can go to a party and get drunk and they won’t know. That’s a lie that could put you in SERIOUS hot water because you are directly disobeying them, you are potentially putting yourself in a dangerous situation, and a million other things. Maybe this is also one of your prom plans, if it is I DID NOT OKAY IT, PARENTS.
The lie you are potentially going to tell (that you are going alone instead of with your lovely date), is being told because you want to have the experience of going to prom. The feeling nervous about what to expect, the wondering what you should wear, the hoping you’ll make out before the night ends, the dancing together to a song that you’ll hear on the radio 15 years from now and still feel those same glittery, stomach-squeezy feelings you had on prom night. You deserve that, and if you think that it might be taken from you, I think I am going to stick with my gut on this one: lie.
Then, when you do come out to your parents, include those feelings and that decision. Tell them that it killed you to be dishonest with them, because you want them to know that they can always trust you, but that you were so afraid that an important memory and experience might be taken away from you. They should be able to understand that, and, even if they are upset with you at first… I think it is something that they will be able to wrap their minds around over time.
I wasn’t out to my parents or myself when I went to my junior prom, and I took a girl as my date. I told my parents we were going as friends, and I really thought we were… even though somewhere deep down I knew I would love to spoon with this girl and probably kiss a whole bunch. Coming out – whether to yourself, your parents, or anyone else – is a tricky business, and it means making decisions when and how they make the most sense for you.
Oh, and two more things:
1. If your parents are upset after you tell them, let them read this post. I think it will help.
2. If you want to know what it looked like to go to prom with a girl before being out to yourself or your parents in 1997, here you go:
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“I’m FTM trans, but I have only recently started to transition and haven’t yet had to dress up for a formal event. Prom is coming up soon and I have no idea how even to wear a suit or a tux. Help!”
- Question submitted by Anonymous and answered by Anita Dolce Vita as part of Everyone Is Gay: Second Opinions
Congratulations on embarking on this challenging but exciting personal journey of self-empowerment and self-love. For many of us, clothing is an extremely powerful tool in affirming our identities, and not having the resources and support to assist in finding a style that matches who we are on the inside can be anxiety producing. But, we’re here to help!
Society puts less emphasis on masculine attire, leading most people to think that masculine clothing, especially suits, is fairly ordinary and easy to pull off. For example, most conversations about prom and wedding formalwear focus primarily on feminine attire. However, masculine formalwear is actually quite complicated and layered. So much so, in fact, that leading “menswear” magazines have published manuals with entire chapters dedicated to the art of wearing suits and tuxedos. There’s lots to learn about this art, but style experts agree that proper fit is the most important element to execute flawlessly.
But, here’s the issue with fit: Of all the elements, it’s the most difficult to achieve. The Handbook of Style: A Man’s Guide to Looking Good by Esquire Magazine writes, “Are you a ‘drop six’? If you are, you’re a suit maker’s dream: Your chest is six inches larger than your waist. You can wear anything. Sadly, most of us don’t live inside those ideal tailoring measurements.” This means that tailoring formalwear is a necessary (and sometimes expensive) evil for many. Starting out with the best fit possible will minimize the amount of tailoring, if any, you’ll require for off-the-rack suits. (You can also get a suit custom made to your exact needs.) But, you must first know the language of suits (e.g., vents, breaks, single-breasted, etc.) so that you can communicate your fit needs. dapperQ published a very helpful three-part suit manual on Autostraddle to help queer folx negotiate the world of suits. You can find the chapters here, here, and here.
Once you have a good understanding of what it is you’re looking for in terms of fit and price, the next step is to actually go out and find it. Here are some queer and queer-friendly owned formalwear retailers that dapperQ readers swear by:
Of course, if you are not a fashion head and just want to dress in “appropriate” formalwear attire, you can opt for a black suit or tuxedo and dress shoes. Boom, you’re done! But, if you are a style geek and want to stand out from the pack, add some personal touches. Now is the time to take style risks, break the rules, and get creative. Here are some ways to get your suit/tuxedo game on fleek:
Pair your suit/tuxedo with sneakers, high tops, or studded slippers
Ditch the flower boutonniere and instead rock a handmade pin, perhaps one made of metal, knit, paper or cloth
Add colorful, patterned socks
Since your jacket and pants do not necessarily have to be the same color, wear an evening jacket with non-matching pants
Wear a suit/tuxedo with patterns and/or bold colors, rather than just reaching for standard black, blue, white, and gray
I have created a Pinterest board to inspire some prom creativity, which you can find here. The most important accessory is confidence. Wear your suit with pride and have a great time. And, don’t forget to share your prom pictures with dapperQ at dapperQ@gmail.com
"What should I wear to prom if I reallllyyyy don’t want to wear a dress?"
- Question submitted by Anonymous
HI I AM YOUR PROM EXPERT, DANNIELLE, NICE TO MEET YOU.
I think you should wear a nice pair of pants, a fitted button-up, a nice vest OR BLAZER DEPENDING ON WHERE YOU LIVE, a good pair of shoes and a bow tie.
Now, if the bow tie is overboard, go without! You want to feel confident. There are some outfits SLASH clothing items that I really want to wear, but I just can’t because I feel dumb and, YOU GUYS, if you feel dumb, you won’t have a good time and you’ll hate all of the pictures. SO MAKE SURE YOU FEEL GOOD. Wear bright colors and fun ties and just FEEL AWESOME.
Prom is a fancy night, so you want to get in the fancy mood with some fancy clothes (but you guys spending 500$ is a tiny bit silly). Find diff pieces at diff stores. Sign up for email lists so you know when stuff is on sale. Don’t go overboard, get stuff you’ll wear again!
Suggested shops: J Crew Factory, Top Shop, ASOS, THRIFT STORES.
I very much feel that Dannielle has advised you properly along your prom non-dress hunt, and so in lieu of further advice I would like to contribute a few pictures of what I would look like as your prom date in some of the above suggested outfits.