Get Your Dancing Shoes On, Gayla 2022 is Coming!

COD Pride Alliance hosts a second-chance prom for queer students for the first time since the pandemic.


Graphic provided by COD Pride Alliance

Bee Bishop, Managing Editor

LGBTQ students often don’t get to experience prom as a joyous occasion. COD’s Pride Alliance aims to fix that with this year’s Gayla, a second-chance prom for members of the LGBTQ community. 

Prom is one of those memories people talk about until they’re old and gray. It’s a night full of wonder and fantasy. It’s a chance to get dressed up and have a fun night out with your friends as you celebrate the ending of high school and push forward into your college years. It’s any teenagers’ ideal climax to their coming-of-age story. But for some students, their high school prom isn’t the picture perfect dance they dreamed it would be. 

The event had been a shared idea between Jacob Kent and a friend back in 2017.

“Gayla was founded to be a second chance prom for those who, whether it was an inability to go with the person they like or as their authentic selves, didn’t get that kind of experience with traditional high school formals,” Kent said. “That’s what Gayla is meant to be – giving that opportunity to everyone, especially those  who are normally excluded from events like these because they don’t fit the kind of cisgender, heteronormative mold.”

Patrick Krueger, one of the Pride Alliance members and planners for this year’s Gayla, said an event like this is important to having a welcoming environment on campus.

“It’s an event where people can just be themselves without being judged,” Krueger said. “It’s important to have an environment, especially an event like a dance, where you can do that.”

This will not be the first Gayla the Pride Alliance has hosted, but it will be the first event after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Because of this, the Pride Alliance has decided not to charge admission for this event.

“We charged admission in previous years, and had it more as a fundraiser,” Kent said. “But right now the focus is on just having a big, social event that will accept you as you are and that you can bring your friends to.”

Gayla has a set theme. This year the theme is Enchanted Forest, but there will be no set dress code for attendees. Cordelia Casey, a member of the Pride Alliance and a previous Gayla attendee, said the lack of formal dress requirement creates a safe environment for people trying new things.

“If there are outfits you’ve been wanting to try out that you haven’t tried, if you’re someone who doesn’t normally wear dresses and you want to try and get dressed, it’s a very good environment to try something like that,” Casey said. “It’s very safe. And the social and event aspect of it helps, at least for me and my friend group.”

Casey also commented on how Gayla helps cultivate a positive and affirming environment at COD.

“It’s a great way to form social bonds with one another around the shared struggle of identities that we have,” she said. “The club, week to week, does that, but having an event that’s more of a celebration is very nice.”

Gayla is at 5 p.m., April 22, in the Culinary and Hospitality Center Room 2001. The event is open to any and all students. Refreshments will be served. For more information about Gayla and the Pride Alliance, check the club’s Facebook, Instagram, and Chaplife page