On February 18th, ALSO Youth held its annual Youth Prom at the Sarasota Municipal Auditorium, and it was a night to remember. With almost 200 youth in attendance, the event was a huge success, and it was all thanks to the hard work and dedication of the prom planning committee, volunteers, and sponsors.
The theme for this year's prom was disco, and the attendees had a blast dancing the night away while enjoying fun crafts and contests. But the prom was much more than just a night of fun and dancing; it was an opportunity for LGBTQ+ youth in Sarasota and Manatee Counties to come together in a safe and inclusive environment and celebrate who they are.
ALSO Youth is a non-profit organization that provides advocacy, leadership, support, and outreach programs for LGBTQ+ youth in the area. The prom is just one of the many events and programs they offer to support and empower LGBTQ+ youth.
Leading up to the prom, ALSO Youth hosted a prom closet where youth could come and pick out jackets, dresses, and shoes to wear to the prom, all for free. They also offered free services at the ALSO Youth Prom Salon to help youth look and feel their best on prom night.
While the youth partied disco-style, parents and guardians had an event of their own. ALSO Youth and PFLAG hosted an event for parents of youth attending the prom to relax and enjoy some light bites and beverages at the ALSO Youth Sarasota Center, located just half a mile away from the Sarasota Municipal Auditorium. It was a chance for parents to connect with others in a similar situation and get access to valuable resources.
Volunteers, like Stephen Lasher, were moved by the event and the positive impact it had on the youth in attendance. He said, "Being of a certain age, some of us shed tears of joy knowing that these kids can dress, talk, laugh, and dance safely. We remember when in our day, this was not usually possible. Thank you, ALSO Youth."
The success of the ALSO Youth Prom would not have been possible without the support of sponsors like the Hurlburt Foundation, the DeBartolo Family Foundation, Cindy Barnes of Sarasota Pride, Sights and Sounds AV, Macy's, Georgia Moore, Selby Gardens, and many more.
The ALSO Youth Prom is a reminder of the importance of creating safe and inclusive spaces for LGBTQ+ youth to thrive and be themselves. It's a celebration of diversity and inclusion, and it's an event that youth look forward to every year. Thanks to ALSO Youth, LGBTQ+ youth in Sarasota and Manatee Counties have a place to go where they are accepted and celebrated for who they are.
Do you wish you had a service like ALSO Youth when you were growing up? Let us know in the comments section below.
Please Note: For the privacy of the youth, there are limited photos from the event.