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“Love is Love,” a prom for all, held in a special place


The spirit of love – in all its forms and expressions – is alive and well in Doylestown.

As Planned Parenthood’s Rainbow Room held its first “Love is Love: A Queer Prom for All” last week, organizers and guests said it demonstrated a communitywide effort to embrace inclusivity of the LGBTQ+ youth.

“The supportive energy in the ballroom was positively overwhelming,” said Lily Mandel, a 17-year-old student at Central Bucks South, who attended the prom. “So many youth came to me expressing gratitude for how safe and comfortable they felt in that environment, and a lot left with a renewed sense of confidence and self-assurance, I know I sure did.”

Marlene Pray, founder and director of the Rainbow Room, said, “We’ve had dances before at various schools, but this is the first prom for the larger community.” The Rainbow Room, established 18 years ago in Doylestown, provides a “supportive and empowering environment” for LGBTQ+ youth.

The free event, which was sold out with 150 guests, from 57 schools, featured a red carpet entrance at the James A. Michener Art Museum, where a D.J., a photo booth and food prepared by volunteers, welcomed guests.

“It meant a lot knowing that no matter how my girlfriend and I acted we wouldn’t be judged for who we chose to love,” said 16-year-old James Sinsel, a Pennridge High School student. “We had the night of our lives.”

Pray said she was very happy the long-planned for event was a success.

“For many youth, a prom is an important ritual, yet like so many rites of passage, LGBTQ+ youth feel excluded from their own proms. Love is Love: A Queer Prom for All was a place for all youth to express their individuality and creativity, to know they are valid, loved and celebrated, and part of a family and community that is strong, resilient, proud and filled with love, said the Rainbow Room founder in an email.

Pray credited the Michener Museum with donating the elegant, glass-walled event space and its support of the Rainbow Room and its mission. “They are working very deliberately to support the LGBTQ community,” said Pray.

“We wanted to make such a special, magical place open to this youth group,” said Matt Kalasky, the museum’s manager of public programs. And, he added, “this is not a one-off,” there’ll be ongoing engagement with the Rainbow Room and its members.