Young peoplehave been dealt a terrible hand this past year. In what feels like a never-ending string of lockdowns and false promises stripping away social interactions and throwing futures into jeopardy, UK’s youth have been one of the groups who have been hit hardest by COVID-19. For 2020 and 2021’s school leavers, the pandemic years have been particularly anticlimactic. With lockdown restrictions in place, celebrations have been limited: chances to reunite in person with friends and communities have been sorely missed, almost non-existent. It has been doubly brutal for young members of the LGBTQI+ community, whose safe spaces are often outside the homes they have been locked down in. And while missing prom these past two years might have been a blow for many young people, was it evera space where young queer people could truly be themselves?
That’s why shado has decided to team up with Instagram to throw UK’s LGBTQI+ youth the prom they have been denied. Taking place on the last day of Pride month, as a recognition that teens were also denied this important celebration this year, we’re leveraging Instagram’s incredible online community to bring together a prom like no other. Pride Prom celebrates how the young LGBTQI+ community is pushing culture, identity, and expression forward, using Instagram to #ShareWithPride.
We’re being joined by some of the UK’s most inspiring young LGBTQI+ creators to form our Pride Prom, an inclusive online event which celebrates queer expression above anything else. From makeup tutorials and live performances to creating the perfect prom picture on your phone, young LGBTQI+ folks will finally have the chance to participate in the celebration they deserve. We caught up with our participating creatives to find out more about what they do and how they would envisage their ideal prom night. Pride Prom rounds off a month of celebratory activity which has seen Instagram launch new Pride stickers and rainbow hashtags, plus a partnership and allyship guide with charity Mermaids encouraging further conversation around pronouns.
Our first performer is Adam Marshall(they/them), a 17 year old freelance makeup artist based in Dundee. They are kicking off our prom celebrations to show audiences how to create the perfect prom pride look and sharing their experiences of the last year with the wider world.
If you could throw a prom what theme would you choose? I would choose the theme retro for my prom. I’ve always loved the fashion, the style and the music of decades such as the 1960’s and 1970’s, I think they were much bolder and more impactful eras.
COVID-19 and its ensuing lockdown was especially hard on the LGBTQI+ community. What challenges did you face during this period and how did you overcome them? Personally the biggest challenge that I faced was isolation, the separation from my friends and the people I usually see everyday. That lack of connection from people took quite a toll on my mental health, but I got through it by connecting to my friends via FaceTime and Instagram, and through putting my emotions into my makeup and art.
Do you remember your first pride? What was it like? My first pride was actually the first Dundee Pride in September 2018. It was a much smaller parade than the ones I had seen videos and photos of, but it was still a happy and fun day that had a great feeling of community.
How has your practice developed this year? Over the past year I have had a lot more time on my hands, but despite this, I’ve been posting less content on my socials. I think this is because instead of just producing as much work as I possibly could, I’ve learnt to focus more on the quality of my work and have spent time improving my skills. This has led me to creating work that I enjoy and am really proud of, which in turn has led to more opportunities and exposure from publications such as The Guardian and shado!
Next up is Alia Romagnoli (she/they), a freelance photographer and visual artist. She focuses on fashion and portraiture and works between London and Bangalore, India. Following Adam’s makeup tutorial, Alia will be teaching attendees how to ‘take the perfect prom picture’ – including tips for shooting over Zoom, props and poses. She will also be highlighting some of her other favourite photographers on Instagram and how she uses the platform to share her work.
Did you go to prom? Why/why not? What was it like? I didn’t go to prom but always wanted to! I grew up in India and the idea of having a prom wasn’t very common so I would live that experience through coming-of-age movies and fantasise about what the experience could have been like for me.
If you could throw a prom what theme would you choose? Probably something decade related! Maybe the 1980s or 90s.
Prom’s drawing to a close and you catch the eye of your crush. What slow dance track do you want to end the night on? Fallen by Mya. It reminds me of the masquerade dance scene from A Cinderella Story and I loved that movie so much when I was at school.
Do you remember your first pride? What was it like? I do! It was a year after I moved to London, and I hadn’t even started to explore my own identity in my work yet so going to Pride was so important for me because I felt really seen. What made it even more special is that my mum took my sibling and I to our first Pride and we were able to feel part of something so special together.
Next up will be Tanaka Fuego, a multi-award winning, multi-published, international spoken word artist. Tanaka is an artist dedicated to safe spaces, until the world can become a safer space for those that are marginalised. For Pride Prom, Tanaka will be treating us to a selection of their amazing poetry and something special they’ve created just for the event.
How do you plan to celebrate this year’s pride? For me this year, I’m in a completely different space than where I was last year. Meaning that last year my community held me, and to be in a position where I can hold my community this year is something I take deep pride in. My way of celebrating this is to continuously pour into others as they have poured into me! It’s all about the give and take. Not just one or the other.
Prom’s drawing to a close and you catch the eye of your crush. What slow dance track do you want to end the night on? I’m a mover and a shaker which means my crush would have to be able to dance and I’m talking 90s/80s slow jam dance – so it could be anything from Earth Wind and Fire, to any Keyshia Cole song. You can catch me dancing on my Instagram stories sometimes… But if my back is up against the wall I’d have to go classic and say ‘Golden’ by Jill Scott. It’s upbeat, light and joyful!!
Do you remember your first pride? What was it like? My first pride was in Indiana, Indianapolis. I drove my poetry family with me and it was all our first times at a pride. And it was wild, cause I was the designated driver. I believe at the end I lost my car at one point. But then I found it. But overall it was cute. Definitely a different experience of when I went to my first Black pride. That was magical.
When coming up with your idea for this event what inspirations did you draw from? I drew from the reality of what my life has centred around recently which is grounding. Become grounded in self, in identity, in your vessel. A darkin, thick transmasc individual. I know all too well what it’s like to feel like you’re floating in space in time. And not feeling as if you will ever be afforded the luxury to experience life in all its fullness. And I’ve found myself having to really create my own idea of fullness and how it isn’t attached to things and people but feelings. And the one thing we have true autonomy of is how we feel. And how we let others make us feel (within reason).
Finally, we’ll hear fromVic Jamieson, a pansexual guitarist and content creator. In the past year, Vic has been on a journey of self discovery, both musically and with their queer identity. They practice hard every day and have recently leveraged the power of Instagram to connect with other queer musicians and share videos of their music. Simultaneously, they’ve been allowing themselves to explore their gender expression more and more. Vic is passionate about representing people like them in their field, as they didn’t see such representation whilst growing up themselves. Vic will be finishing off our prom night with an incredible performance of covers, interspersing the music with important messages concerning their own queer identity and what pride means to them.
Did you go to prom? Why/why not? What was it like? Yes I did, as it was the done thing – didn’t have the courage to ask anyone to be my date though!
If you could throw a prom what theme would you choose? Wear something they’d never expect you to wear!
How have you/how do you plan to celebrate this year’s pride? Practicing self-love by pushing super hard into my queer identiy and exploring what it means.
COVID-19 and its ensuing lockdown was especially hard on the LGBTQI+community. What challenges did you face during this period and how did you overcome them? I had to move back to an area where you very rarely see a queer presenting person. I didn’t see someone I thought was LGBTQI+ for a whole year. I overcame this by moving back to a city where being myself doesn’t feel as scary!
Instagram x shado: Pride Prom will take place on Wednesday 30th of June on our Instagram Live from 2-6.30pm. We look forward to welcoming you all there. Follow @shado.magfor the full event and to keep up to date with the events activities leading up to then