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Live to Tell : Teen-Agers From L.A. Schools Pack First District-Sanctioned Gay Prom

May 22, 1994|MICHAEL QUINTANILLA | TIMES STAFF WRITER

At that event, she was voted the prom princess and accepted the crown in a creme-colored, tight-waisted, tea-length gown. "When I sat down it was very uncomfortable," said Rosales, adding that she was more comfortable in the clothes she chose for Friday's prom.

"I'm outspoken in an academic way," said Rosales, who is vice president of her senior class and is involved in youth, feminist, lesbian and Latino issues at school and in her community.

"I believe that I have my rights as a lesbian. I don't promote my gayness but I take pride in it."

Her date, Parra, said that last year she attended South Gate's junior-senior prom with a girlfriend but felt unwelcome there.

"We danced and took our pictures together, but we could feel the bad vibes. We left. That, obviously, is not happening here tonight," she said, soon after telegrams from school board member Jeff Horton and Councilwoman Jackie Goldberg, openly gay politicians, were read to the group.

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Kathy Gill, the Gay and Lesbian Education Commission's director, joined other organizers in expressing gratitude to several gay and lesbian groups and well-wishers for donating $6,000 to help underwrite the prom. Student participants paid $15 apiece; no public funds were spent.

Virginia Uribe, Project 10 founder and a science teacher at Fairfax High School, said: "This kind of affirmation is imperative for gay and lesbian youth because a lot of our kids are faced with life-and-death situations. The prom says to them: 'You have dignity and we respect you and you're not lesser in anyone's mind.' "

The prom-goers echoed those sentiments.

"This is our night to celebrate and to dance in a classy ballroom with our friends and our lovers," said Christine Soto, who made a speech welcoming her peers to the prom.

Like other prom-goers, Soto, a 16-year-old Eagles Center student--her hair fashionably slicked back, her outfit a mix of brocade vest, baggy pants and zoot-suit pocket chain--saved up for the prom. She paid a friend $100 to drive her and her date to the prom and later to Santa Monica Beach where the two young women watched the sunrise.

"Tonight is a night we can claim as ours," she said, her voice breaking with emotion as shouts of "Go on, girl!" came from the audience. "Tonight is a night where we don't have to worry about nobody telling us that we don't fit in. After tonight we will live to tell about our struggle to achieve equality and human rights."

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