All-island Rainbow Prom is Saturday

It will be a queer thing, to be sure.

“Curiouser and Curioser,” the Alice in Wonderland-themed “more-than-prom” is happening 7 p.m., Saturday May 4 at the Coupeville Elementary multipurpose room. The annual “Rainbow Prom” is hosted by Coupeville High School’s Pride and Allies Club for LGBTQ students island-wide.

“It’s just kind of a fun dance and event that’s especially inclusive to LGBTQ-plus kids but not exclusive to them,” club co-president Madison Rixe said.

Any high school student willing to pledge to be respectful is invited, said club advisor Tacy Bigelow. The evening isn’t meant to replace other proms or conflict with any school event.

“It’s an opportunity for kids from the whole island to get together in a safe space and be who they are,” Bigelow said.

It’s different from a conventional prom in a number of ways. For one, students are expected to show up on time. There is a variety activities planned, including a fun “guided meet and greet” at the beginning. Bigelow said it’s important students have familiar faces throughout the night because many of them likely won’t know each other if they go to different schools.

In addition to dancing, there will be crafts, a treasure hunt, food and a game room. Everything is tailored to this year’s theme — meaning the crafts will include painting roses red, the treasure hunt involves finding white rabbits, the food will be tea-party style and there’ll be games like pin the smile on the Cheshire cat and flamingo croquet.

The club gets a grant each year from Whidbey Giving Circle to put on the event. The money covers decorations, food, and money for buses to bring in students from the north and sounds ends. Last year, around 20 students from South Whidbey and approximately 30 from Oak Harbor attended, Bigelow said.

“It’s amazing to watch kids come together and talk about their experiences,” she said.

These can be particularly interesting to watch when students choose to dress to the theme, which is often the case. Bigelow said one year, she looked through the doorway and saw a bunny leading what appeared to be a serious discussion between students from different schools.

The event began in 2014, and Bigelow said there were concerns that first year about how the community would respond. The response turned out to be overwhelmingly positive and supportive, she said, and has continued to be each year.

It’s a unique and valuable experience for many of the students, she said.

“There aren’t really many pride events on the island,” Rixe said. And when there are, they might be difficult for high school students to get to or aren’t necessarily geared towards teenagers. But it’s important for these students the have that kind of atmosphere.

Rixe said although Coupeville is a relatively accepting place, there isn’t the same level of energy around pride that there is at Rainbow Prom.

“It’s nice to be in a place where you aren’t questioned,” she said. “It’s wacky. It’s zany. It’s different than other dances. It’s something different we can enjoy.”