Redux in a Tux

Fourth annual Capital Queer Prom to benefit local transitional home for LGBT youth

by Yusef Najafi
Published on March 4, 2010, 3:19am | Comments

The fourth annual Capital Queer Prom is the first to have a theme, says creator Ebone Bell.

''I've managed to get away with not having a theme, but I figured I probably can't do that for too much longer,'' Bell says.

So this year, the prom is running with "Casino Royale."

''It's still has the look and feel of a prom, but we thought we could jazz it up a little bit and people could gamble for a good cause.''

That means a portion of dollars spent by prom-goers on tickets, blackjack and poker will go to help this year's beneficiary, the Wanda Alston House, a program of Transgender Health Empowerment (THE).

''The Wanda Alston House really caught my attention because we don't have [another] house in the area for LGBT youth,'' Bell says.

''We have an organization that is supporting LGBT youth, but when these kids are thrown out in the streets, where do they go? The Wanda Alston House not only houses the kids, but they also educate them and support them. It is a transitional home where they meet with a mentor every day.''

According to Bell, last year's event attracted about 300 people to a prom on the Potomac by boat. Capital Queer Prom was able to donate a portion of 2009's proceeds, about $2,000, to One in Ten, the organization that produces Washington's annual Reel Affirmations Film Festival. Bell is hoping to go beyond that sum this year for THE.

Brian Watson, director of programs at THE, is surprised by and appreciative of the announcement.

''Any donation that we get, it goes right back out to the youth that are in our programs,'' Watson says. ''It will probably be used to buy some things for the house or to help some of the kids with expenses that the grants we get don't pay for, such as books for school or clothing and other things like that.''

THE was among several local LGBT organizations that suffered from the District's budget cuts last year. In February, Brother Help Thyself also helped THE face the fiscal hit by donating $7,552.

''I definitely think that people are stepping up," Watson adds. "I know that a lot of organizations have been hit. And I know that a lot people don't have money to give, but we definitely still need more help.''

Watson, who did not go to his high school prom, says he plans on attending the Capital Queer Prom.

''I didn't go in high school because that's when I was coming out and it was a little awkward for me,'' he says. ''This time I can be myself and enjoy it.''

That's ultimately what the Capital Queer Prom is about, Bell says.

''This event really is a second chance to have the prom you should have had years ago. Do it up with people who are like you, and just have a good time.''

The Fourth Annual Capital Queer Prom runs 7-10:30 p.m., Saturday, March 13, at the Almas Temple, 1315 K St. NW. Tickets, $50, are available until March 12. For details, visit capitalqueerprom.com.