My Big (Fat Gay) Punk Rock Prom

 

Let me take you on a trip back to a much simpler time, when we didn’t have to worry about adult responsibilities and the complexities that come with them. So please, if you will, enter into my pseudo-TARDIS for a fun trip back in time to…

 

May 1990

After a long, cold winter, it was finally springtime in Northeast Ohio; the trees and flowers were bursting forth in all of their glory and the air was warm once again. I just turned eighteen and looked forward to graduating high school in less than a month.

I was also beyond excited to attend my Senior Prom.

I’m sure this excitement for prom sounds normal for a typical teenage girl about to graduate high school, however, I wasn’t one to follow the crowd or popular trends – I was a rebellious Punk Rock teenager. Nonetheless, I decided to attend this conformist social gathering with my friends – in my outrageous non-conformist style, of course.

There was, however, one enormous obstacle standing between me and having the time of my life at my Senior Prom – Mom-ster.

Mom-ster said I wasn’t allowed to attend my prom because I was fat.

Mom-ster, in her infinite wisdom determined that not only would I never find a dress to fit me (mind you, I was a size 18) but if I managed to find a guy to take me, not only would he expect me to “put out”, but everyone at the prom would make fun of me behind my back.

“You’ll look like the dancing hippos from Fantasia in a prom dress!” She claimed she was saving me the embarrassment and heartache of ending up like Sissy Spacek in the 1976 movie adaptation of Stephen King’s horror novel, Carrie. Mom-ster always had a penchant for the melodramatic.

Being a brave and rebellious punk rock girl, I decided I would go to my prom, no matter what Mom-ster said.

I asked my “totally cool and awesome” friend Charlie, who graduated two years earlier, to escort me to the prom. I had a crush on Charlie my junior and senior years of high school, but it was only because he was such a devastatingly cool punk rock guy; those were a rare commodity in my circle of friends and in my school. We always had an awesome time together no matter what we did or who we were with. He, of course, said yes to taking me to the prom. I knew we were going to have a blast!

Deciding to have my dress made, not only because of what Mom-ster said about not being able to find one to fit me but because I wanted to look different, I shopped the pattern section of our local sewing shop. I found two different dresses: I liked the bodice and skirt of one and the sleeves of the other. My friends’ mom and grandmother made my dress for me.

I felt like a Punk Rock Cinderella getting ready for the ball.

Dad knew I was going to the Prom, but that was our little secret. In the event I got “busted” by Mom-ster, he would deny all knowledge. I agreed to his terms before he dropped me off at my friends’ house so I could get ready for the evening’s festivities.

My dress turned out even better than I had imagined. Crafted in taffeta, black of course, with a ruched bodice, flared and flowery straps with stretch lace sleeves, my dress looked amazing on my young, curvy body. I accessorized my look with a pair of hi-top black Converse “Chucks”. I was indeed a Punk Rock Cinderella.

Charlie, also dressed in all black, wore his Sid Vicious choker chain with a padlock instead of a tie, along with his slacks tucked into a handsome pair of shiny black 14 eyelet Doc Martens – the ultimate punk rock fashion accessory.

Between the both of us, my Punk Rock date and I had one set of eyes, since we both wore our bangs covering the left side of our faces. Looking back now, we were more Goth than Punk, but we always considered ourselves a hybrid of Punk and Goth.

I gave Charlie a black rose boutonniere (a white rose sprayed black), and he gave me an amazing armband corsage adorned with mini red roses and carnations. We were ready to (punk) rock it out at my Senior Prom!

Once Charlie and I arrived, everyone wanted our photo – Charlie and I were without question the coolest duo at my prom. We gladly obliged my classmates and posed for some photos.

There were no reenactments from the movie Carrie, as Mom-ster had predicted.

I brought heels and wore them for our formal photo – I really wish I hadn’t though. My friends’ mom told me, “You’ll want to have at least one normal photo from your Senior Prom when you’re a lot older and looking back. After all, you’re not going to be Punk Rock forever.” 

I cringe now looking back at my prom photo, in which I wore black kitten heels with bows.

Punk, it turns out, was not some “teenage phase” Charlie and I were just going through.

Charlie and I spent some time after the prom at the Lake Erie shore, walking the local pier and listening to The Cure’s latest album, Disintegration. I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect night. The best part was that unlike in the story Cinderella, I didn’t have to be home by midnight and nothing turned into a pumpkin.

Later that night when I got back to my friends’ house, she asked me if Charlie and I kissed – my immediate response was, “Ewww, no! It’s Charlie!” She was perplexed, as she knew I liked him.

Somewhere deep down inside, I knew Charlie didn’t like girls – and I’m sure he knew, too. Charlie was well-hidden, deep in the closet back then. We had a small group of friends we regularly hung out with – I am sure we all knew Charlie was gay before he finally came out and announced it.

Recently, while talking with an acquaintance about our proms, I shared this tale with him. He responded with roaring laughter and teased me, “So let me get this straight, unlike your prom date, you took a gay guy you had a crush on to your Senior Prom? Haha! That makes you a fat ass fag hag!”

Both agitated and enraged by his ignorance, I looked at him and replied, “So let ME get this straight, according to your backward and outdated thinking, I went to prom with a gay guy and he went with a big fat chick. That’s what you’re saying, right? What’s with the ridiculous labels? You’re no better than my mom!”

After a few moments of silence, followed by him turning about ten different shades of red and having sweat bead up on his forehead, he awkwardly apologized. Being completely embarrassed, he agreed that his thinking was ignorant and seriously needs updating – and that he needs to be more vigilant before opening his mouth.

Afterward, as I was driving home I thought to myself, why are there still people who need to label others? Didn’t these people get the memo that shaming someone for their sexuality or body type (or anything for that matter!) just isn’t acceptable behavior anymore?

This is, after all, the twenty-first century.

Sure, we might not have flying space cars like in the cartoon The Jetson’s, but we have come a long way. Unfortunately, there are some people out there who still have thinking that resembles The Flintstone’s – prehistoric and outdated.

Why do some people still feel the need to label, categorize and bash others for their differences? I’m certain the world would be so much better without all the ignorance.

We are all different, yet human. Let’s embrace that instead.

Charlie and I were two young adults who had a fun night together at my Senior Prom. I wouldn’t trade the time we shared or our lifelong friendship for anything.

To this day, Charlie and I still rock out in our Doc Martens and listen to the glorious Punk and dark wave music of our teen years. We have the attitude of those rebellious days still coursing through our veins. We had a blast when we were younger, especially at my Senior Prom, and we still happily reminisce about those wonderful and carefree days.

Charlie remains one of my very best friends, even though we don’t see each other all that often. I look forward to times spent not only with him but with his wonderful husband as well. Our amazing lifelong friendship is based on unconditional love, as it should be with all relationships.

I don’t call Charlie my “gay friend” and I’m quite sure he doesn’t call me his “big fat friend” – Charlie is my friend and I love him.

Period. End of discussion.


The following playlist was carefully and excitedly put together by Charlie and myself, recalling those amazing, beautiful, sometimes challenging, yet extremely fun days of our youth. We hope you enjoy these songs as much as we do! 🙂


Prom 1990

  1. Punk Rock Girl – The Dead Milkmen
  2. Living In Oblivion (original version) – Anything Box
  3. Why Can’t I Be You? – The Cure
  4. Personal Jesus – Depeche Mode
  5. Bizarre Love Triangle – New Order
  6. She’s In Parties – Bauhaus
  7. Devil Inside – INXS
  8. Lips Like Sugar – Echo and the Bunnymen
  9. Peek-A-Boo – Siouxsie & The Banshees
  10. Orange Crush – R.E.M.
  11. Love Will Tear Us Apart – Joy Division
  12. Under The Milky Way – The Church
  13. Rock Lobster – The B-52’s
  14. Love Is The Slug – Fuzzbox
  15. Fascination Street – The Cure
  16. The Ballroom Blitz – Sweet
  17. How Soon Is Now – The Smiths
  18. The Promise – When In Rome
  19. Space Age Love Song – A Flock Of Seagulls
  20. Don’t Let’s Start – They Might Be Giants
  21. Add It Up – Violent Femmes
  22. Head Like A Hole – Nine Inch Nails
  23. Work For Love (extended version) – Ministry
  24. Headhunter – Front 242
  25. Join In The Chant – Nitzer Ebb
  26. Lucretia My Reflection – The Sisters of Mercy
  27. You Spin Me Round (Like A Record) – Dead or Alive
  28. Chains Of Love – Erasure
  29. Dead Man’s Party – Oingo Boingo
  30. Mexican Radio – Wall Of Voodoo
  31. The Reflex – Duran Duran
  32. Red Red Wine – UB40
  33. Sunday Bloody Sunday – U2
  34. Beds Are Burning – Midnight Oil
  35. The One I Love – R.E.M.
  36. World Shut Your Mouth – Julian Cope
  37. Rip It Up – Orange Juice
  38. I Melt With You – Modern English
  39. Dr. Martens Boots – Alexei Sayle
  40. It’s A Sin – Pet Shop Boys
  41. Things Can Only Get Better – Howard Jones
  42. A Girl Like You – The Smithereens
  43. One Way Or Another – Blondie
  44. Dancing With Myself – Billy Idol
  45. Never Let Me Down Again – Depeche Mode
  46. The Sun Always Shines On TV – a-ha
  47. Running Up That Hill – Kate Bush
  48. Desire (Come and Get It) – Gene Loves Jezebel
  49. (Keep Feeling) Fascination – The Human League
  50. Pump It Up – Elvis Costello and The Attractions
  51. Fever – The Cramps
  52. The Great Commandment – Camouflage
  53. Underneath The Radar – Underworld
  54. West End Girls – Pet Shop Boys
  55. Eighties – Killing Joke
  56. Burning Down The House – Talking Heads
  57. Green Haze – Elvis Hitler
  58. Higher Ground – The Red Hot Chili Peppers
  59. Story Of My Life – Social Distortion
  60. Mountain Song – Jane’s Addiction
  61. Anarchy In The UK – Sex Pistols
  62. London Calling – The Clash
  63. Holiday In Cambodia – The Dead Kennedys
  64. I Wanna Be Sedated – The Ramones
  65. My Way – Sid Vicious