UCSC’s Mardi Gras-themed queer prom held March 2, sold out, giving all students the prom experience they might not have had in high school. Photo by Sal Ingram.

In a transformed Porter/Kresge Dining Hall, under a glittering disco ball, students gathered for the second annual Queer Prom.

Bodies swayed to the music in a sold-out room where students attending the Mardi Gras-themed event danced on the floor, main stage, and on top of chairs and tables, until 1 a.m.

Queer Prom, held March 2, was hosted by the Queer Student Union (QSU) and Delta Lambda Psi (DLP). Nestor Rivera, QSU media coordinator, helped organize the event and discussed the purpose of the QSU.

“The QSU is here to build a better union with queer students on campus,” Rivera said. “We try to bring a safe environment to educate students with and around the queer movement.”

After last year’s large turnout, Rivera had high expectations for this year’s event.

“Queer Prom is a safe zone where students can be themselves, free of judgment,” Rivera said. “It’s a way to give students the prom experience they may have wanted but couldn’t receive in high school.”

Although the administration is helpful in providing the Cantú Queer Center at Merrill College, Rivera said, they can still meet the needs of queer students in other ways. For example, the university can push for queer studies, which he said was a course of study recently added by San Diego State University.

Along with QSU, Delta Lambda Psi helped coordinate the event. Delta Lambda Psi is a unique, all-inclusive queer Greek organization founded at UC Santa Cruz in 2005. It is the first queer, gender-neutral Greek organization in the nation.

Ryan Austin, a member of both QSU and Delta Lambda Psi, said the event was “absolutely successful.”

“Events like Queer Prom increase visibility for the queer student body,” Austin said. “And I think it’s representative of a larger notion that we shouldn’t deny the personal expression of others, whatever their form may be.”

Anna Sidorchuk spoke at the event about her experiences as a bisexual student.

“Being bisexual, I think it’s important for me to attend and represent my sexuality as well as that of others,” she said. “I’ve never been in a large participative queer community like this, so it’s cool for me to get involved.”

Many ally students also came out and enjoyed the night’s festivities.

“It’s going really well. There’s a lot of people and I’m having a good time,” said Patrick Davis, a chemistry major. “I came to the event because it was something to do, and I’m glad I came. There’s a very positive vibe.”

When the clock struck 1 a.m., students of all orientations and genders exited the dining hall with their fingers intertwined, heads on one another’s shoulders, and a quiet Saturday morning awaiting them after a long night of celebration.