When I was planning the Center Lane prom, people said I could pass as Michelle Obama, so I went for it. I really respect her. She has very good fashion taste. She’s a serious woman but knows how to let her hair down.
But I’m not into drag. This was only the second time I did it. I think that it might be a little weird to say because I’m gay, but I think if you’re born a man, you’re supposed to be a man. If you’re born a woman, you’re supposed to be a woman. But that’s just my own stuff. My thing is, to each his own. I’m not going to judge you or mistreat you. I love everyone. I just don’t have to love what you do, like the way a lot of people might love me but won’t love that I’m gay or black or whatever.
I organized the whole prom. Myself and Alfred. No one else wanted to be a part of it. You know how it is: you try to get a lot of people together, and then they say “Yeah” and don’t do anything. Then they’re not a part of it. And you get it in place, and they start to complain. It was a very rough couple of months, but I’m very much happy with how it turned out. What made me happy was that the youth were very happy.
Center Lane has done a lot for me. When I was about 14, my parents and I weren’t having such a great relationship when I came out. Center Lane gave me what my parents couldn’t give me: the support and nourishment to help me be who I am. My parents made my life a living hell. Something as simple as taking out the trash became a drama. They thought, “We’re going to make him as miserable as possible so maybe he’ll leave or change.” Things were so difficult, when I was 16 I moved in with my grandmother.
My parents have come around and they’ve not come around. They come around when it’s convenient. Recently I ended an eight-month relationship in April, and they invited him to dinner. With my parents, you just never know. It’s hard.
The guy I broke up with, he wasn’t who I thought he was. I thought he was an honest, really caring person and he turned out not to be. He’s not faithful. He’s not really goal-oriented. I could go on and on. We were just two different people going in two different directions.
I’m going in a direction of positivity, of focusing on my goals and becoming a social worker. I just completed my first year at Mercy College very successfully. I used to work for a foster care agency, and I saw how manipulative the foster care system can be. I know one person can’t save the world, but I can make change.
I’m very comfortable with who I am now. It took a while, and it took a lot of work. When people say “I’ve always been great,” I think they’re lying. With anything in life you always have to struggle. I did my work. I had people, like at Center Lane, who helped me.
I’m very grounded with what I believe in, and my personal belief in God. I’m Christian Baptist. I was raised with it, and I believe in God very much and that you can’t do anything without Him. I’ve never felt any conflict between being a Christian and being gay. The God I believe in doesn’t judge.
As told to Diana Scholl.
Photo by Laurel Golio, taken at the Center Lane Gay Prom, Yonkers, NY, 2010
To tell your story, email firstname.lastname@example.org
More than 200 young people traveled to Yonkers, NY on Friday night for Center Lane’s 15th Annual Gay Prom. The prom, complete with a vogue-off and a young Michelle Obama impersonator, marked a huge cultural shift since Center Lane’s first Gay Prom in 1996, which had only 12 attendees.At that time, Center Lane was hesitant to publicize the event, for fear of harassment. This year, the Polish Center gladly welcomed the prom goers, who came from all over Westchester, dressed to the nines.
We’ll be posting portraits and accompanying interviews this week. In the meantime, all photos can be seen here.