Attendance Rises for Equality Teen Prom

Setting an attendance record, more than 135 youth attended the Kansas City Center for Inclusion’s (KCCI) Equality Teen Prom. KCCI hosts this annual free event to give teens an opportunity to express themselves in a safe and welcoming space.

The theme for the May 4 prom was “Revolutionary Love,” and Grace & Holy Trinity Cathedral was filled with bright colors and glow sticks for the occasion. The evening’s entertainment featured a drag show and a local DJ.

“We wanted to give youth an opportunity to be themselves, have fun, and meet other peers,” said Athena Horton, KCCI board member and chair of the events committee.

For each of the previous two years of the prom, about 100 youth participated.

The teens were greeted by the City of Fountains Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, whose goal is to spread joy and laughter, eliminate guilt, and serve their community. Local celebrity drag queen Melinda Ryder (Bruce Winter) hosted several performers, including Rozz Smith, KC Sunshine, Loretta Martin, and EV. After the performance, DJ Shelby White set the mood with recent hits.

Frances Grimstad, one of the prom organizers, noticed a sweet moment.

“That was so cute!” she said. “I just saw two girls exchange numbers. That was definitely worth it.”

Besides Grimstad and Athena Horton, organizers included Stedmond Ware, Bruce Winter, and KCCI interim executive director Samantha Ruggles.

During the prom, KCCI announced its Future Leaders Scholarship, sponsored again this year by the Kansas City Bear Mafia.

“We are supporting this scholarship this year because we are dedicated to provide opportunities for area youth,” said Marcial Hilton, events chair for the Kansas City Bear Mafia.

“Prom is like a rite of passage. And I feel like in the LGBTQ+ community, we are kinda excluded,” said Daniel Long, president of Shawnee Mission East High School’s Gay-Straight Alliance.

Ruggles said that the event would not have been possible without the donations of several Kansas City-area businesses and benefactors.

“I was pleased with the local community’s response to pay it forward,” Ruggles said. “Many people made this event possible.”

Among this year’s sponsors were Matthew Ryan Hunt and Friends, Fred and Jami Pryor, LEAGUE at AT&T, GLSEN Kansas City, UAW Local 249 Human & Civil Rights Committee, PFLAG Kansas City, Studio Dan Meiners, him.her.them Hair Studio, Gay Pride Bow Ties, Equality Kansas of Greater Kansas City and NourishKC.


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