Sovandarid Prom said he took on his co-student advisor position within his high school’s Queer Student Alliance because he wanted to make the “QSA not only a safe space, but also expand it towards the school community and try to build a more inclusive environment so we normalize who we are as a community.”
The 16-year-old Mastery Charter High School sophomore furthered his role as a member of the Student Leadership Board at the Mazzoni Center, a local LGBT health and wellness center, to help coordinate the third-annual Philly Youth Pride.
The free Oct. 27 event will span two events: a GSA Fair and a party later in the evening. This is a change-up from the previous two years, with the inaugural event including workshops and the second-annual event featuring a carnival theme.
The event is also being held in the fall rather than in the summer.
“This year, our focus is on providing resources to gay-straight alliances in schools,” said Mazzoni’s Ally Safe Schools Coordinator Elyas Harris. “One of the largest hindrances these schools are coming up against is that LGBTQ students don’t have the same access to resources as their cisgender, straight peers. What we’re trying to do is get all of the community resources in one space so the GSAs can network, meet and have access to those tools and resources.”
The GSA Fair will also include activities, games, crafts and food.
Later in the evening, Mazzoni will host an Ally Homecoming, named after the organization’s Ally Safe Schools Program. The event will include live performances, dancing, food and a homecoming-court crowning for Best Drag.
Harris noted that many LGBT young people do not typically have safe environments, such as the one Homecoming provides.
“They don’t often have safe spaces in their high schools to come together, to socialize, to dance, to dance in same-gender couples, to dance in mixed-gender couples, to feel comfortable and confident in whatever clothes they want to come in,” he said. “We really want to provide that space for them to start the year off right and to celebrate going back to high school.”
Prom, who identifies as gay, said this event “creates endless possibilities for youth.” He also said he is looking forward to being himself without “fear of judgment.”
“I have gone throughout the majority of my life fearing what someone would think of me if I was to ever express my true self,” Prom said. “With this event, I know that people will fully accept me and love me for who I am. Also, I am super excited to meet all the other youth and just connect with them.”
He also encourages youth to attend even if they do not fall on the LGBT spectrum.
“The LGBTQ community needs all the love it can get,” Prom said. “The Pride event is a safe space for everyone. You get to meet so many new people who are like-minded. Plus it is a place to celebrate love for what it is. Attending this will get us one step closer to accepting everyone, everywhere.”
Mazzoni Center’s Youth Pride will take place Oct. 27 at William Way LGBT Community Center, 1315 Spruce St. The GSA Fair will take place 11 a.m.-3 p.m. and the Ally Homecoming will be held 6-11 p.m. Visit http://bit.ly/2atWE6h for more information and to register.