This year, Southern Decadence is getting an upgrade. In preparation for the upcoming “Prom” celebration at Pride 2017, CS Events and Rapparee Media are throwing a “Junior Prom” party. The event will begin at 8pm on Friday, September 2, and rage on until 1 a.m. the next morning, and take place at NOLA Spaces at 1719 Toledano St. The multi-room event will include dancing, drag shows, burlesque, and comedy, with cocktails flowing all night. The Jr. Prom is intended to kick off Decadence weekend the right way, combining a full-scale party with a potent and important message: proceeds will benefit New Orleans Pride's “I'm Bigger” campaign, which aims to end the harassment of LGBT youth.
The “I'm Bigger” campaign is New Orleans Pride's latest effort to combat anti-LGBT bullying. According to the group's website, 60% of middle school students say they are bullied, while only 16% of school staff believe bullying is a common occurrence. By raising awareness of the problem, the “I'm Bigger” campaign aims to educate teachers and parents about the dangers of bullying, change the attitudes of students who engage in bullying or don't intervene when they see it take place, and encourage victims of bullying to stay strong in the face of the abuse.
The consequences of bullying are well-documented: 160,000 students miss school every day out of fear of being bullied, damaging their chances of getting a complete education. 20% of high school students say they've considered suicide; the same number admit that they suffer from bullying. School shootings are also often linked to bullying. The advent of the Internet has made things even worse: 16% of high school students have admitted being cyberbullied. The problem gets even worse when LGBT teens are taken into account: 55.2% said they were bullied electronically.
Anti-bullying programs and initiatives are undeniably effective. Schools with anti-bullying programs show a 50% decrease in bullying and social media movements like “It Gets Better” give LGBT students and other marginalized or victimized kids hope for the future. “I'm Bigger” aims to do the same thing. The campaign's message applies to people on both sides of the issue. Victims are encouraged to overcome the adversity of being bullied, being bigger than the obstacles thrown at them; meanwhile, bullies or potential bullies are asked to think of themselves as “bigger” than the bullying behavior they engage in. The campaign points out that the epidemic of bullying is bad for both sides: bullies target those weaker than them, often after being targeted themselves, and victims feel worthless, without recognizing that those attacking them are the ones with the real problem.
All guests over 21 will receive a champagne toast and prom punch, while guests of all ages will get prom photos and a discount on tickets for the larger Prom coming in 2017. VIPs get access to an open bar and hor d'ouvres from the Cheezy Cajun. All guests are also entered into a midnight raffle for 2 VIP tickets to The Prom, along with a gift certificate to SoBu restaurant and a night at the International House Hotel. Entertainment includes music all night long from DJ Sonja Lofton, a drag show from LibeRaunchy the Beauxqueen, a burlesque show from Xena Zeit-Geist, and comedy from Jeff DeRouen. People 18-20 get in for $10, general admission will run you $35, and VIP access is $75. A silent auction will also be held to benefit the “I'm Bigger” campaign.