LGBT Teens Ready for 20th Annual Hayward Gay Prom

Hundreds of LGBT teens from all over Northern California will head to the East Bay Saturday night for the 20th Annual Hayward Gay Prom.

The dance, which is featured in a recent documentary, is a place for LGBT teens to gather safely and enjoy a high school tradition.

"If you're a queer person, you can feel lonely a lot, not being able to connect with people who share the same experiences as you," said Christine Larisch, a student from Washington High in Fremont. "Which is why it's so important to have safe spaces like this dance -- to be able to go to and enjoy yourself."

Larisch said going to regular school dances can be cruel.

"I know at dances, you definitely hear people using slurs for queer folks sometimes," she said.

Ken Athey, who founded the event two decades ago, is glad the event is alive and well.

"There's still problems. Transgender kids, gay kids, straight kids mixing," Athey said. "So this offers a safe environment for those kids to come out and enjoy themselves."

About 300 students are expected to attend Saturday's prom at Chabot Community College in Hayward.

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