Printer Friendly

A prom worth attending: Bear Mafia includes everyone.

KANSAS CITY - You remember your high school prom. While you may have been one of the lucky ones, that guy or gal who blended into the social scene of your school - the one who went to prom with a socially appropriate date - most in the LGBT community are not so lucky. Many remember high school prom as a time of fear, rejection, and self-loathing. Finding a date to prom is challenging when a student faces rumors of homosexuality. And even if a date is available, it is rarely the person the student really wants to take to prom. And while there are few strong souls willing to buck the system ("Boys go to prom together in Healy, KS" Liberty Press September 2006), most LGBT students stay home on the big night, or bring a date that meets societal expectations. The truth is, prom is rarely billed and built for members of the LGBT community.

It is because of these very reasons that the Kansas City Bear Mafia has made its first formally sanctioned event a prom.

The Kansas City Bear Mafia, known as the Mafia by its members, is a new organization within the Kansas City Metro area. The group has existed since late 2010, starting primarily as a social club meant to bring bears, cubs, admirers, and straight allies together solely for social events. Since then the group has grown to well over 370 members, with many active participants in a variety of social gatherings including brunches, movie days, pool parties, and sporting event outings.

But why a prom? Larry Sharp, a member of the Mafia, answered the question clearly: "When we were trying to come up with a big event to hold, something like the other clubs who have big events, we wanted to start somewhere that wasn't just for bears, but everyone."


As a member of the prom committee (yes they have a prom committee!), Sharp and others want to ensure a message of inclusion and openness is heard by members and allies of the LGBT community.

"Having a prom is not only fun, but a good way to meet member requests for a formal dance. And since many in the Mafia didn't go to their own high school prom, it seemed a prom fit the need," Sharp added.

Mafia member Jason Vann explained why the prom was important to him: "I didn't get to take a real date to either of the proms I went to in high school. It [Mafia Prom] gives people the ability to celebrate who they are with the people they want to."

And while the Mafia is technically a Bear group, anyone interested in the event is invited to join in the festivities. This theme of inclusion, found within the Mafia itself (which boasts straight allies of both sexes as active members), is purposefully built into the framework of the prom.

Many bear events, hosted by other groups, are exclusive to the bear community. For this prom, the Mafia wants anyone to feel comfortable to come and celebrate. "Including our Goldie Locks, a nickname for straight female allies. They should bring their husbands and boyfriends," Sharp said.


Sarah Woodard, a Mafia member who attends many events, echoed the feeling of inclusion: "They [Mafia] want everyone to feel welcome and comfortable, regardless of sexual orientation. The Mafia has created an event where pretty much anyone can attend and spend a fun night with friends.

"It's also a way to re-live a great high school memory, or maybe re-do a prom that wasn't so great," Woodard said.

So the question that jumps to mind when prom is mentioned. Will there be a prom court at the Mafia prom?

"We thought a lot about this," Sharp said. "And because we wanted that sense of inclusion and being yourself, we decided a court would detract from the experience. Plus, this ensures we have no Carrie moments!"

The prom committee, that remained very secret and hush-hush regarding details, recently made information available on Facebook and the Mafia website. Registration opened July 1. The event, themed "KC Bear Mafia Presents: Bear Prom 2012--The Growling Twenties," is scheduled for Oct. 13.

For more details, visit or join the Kansas City Bear Mafia Facebook group.

By Christopher Draven, staff writer
COPYRIGHT 2012 The Liberty Press, LLC
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2012 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:Draven, Christopher
Publication:Liberty Press
Geographic Code:1U4KS
Date:Aug 1, 2012
Previous Article:First MCC's food pantry outgrows building.
Next Article:Transformative.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2021 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters |