Alt rock LGBTQ+ band Hunting Hearts bring a ‘Queer Prom’ to Hampshire

Alt rock LGBTQ+ band Hunting Hearts bring a ‘Queer Prom’ to Hampshire

On November 4th at The Edge of the Wedge in Southsea, Hunting Hearts – alt rock LGBTQ+ band from Southampton – are hosting “Queer Prom”, featuring a diverse line-up of queer artists and band from across Hampshire, including Wyse from Portsmouth, Velour from Bournemouth and another Southampton based band, Artemis

Devin Valentine (pictured top left), the bassist of Hunting Hearts, who have a fast growing fanbase and were recently announced as the Sunday headlines at next year’s  Party in the Park from People’s Pride Southampton, explained why they decided to put on such an event. 

“When I was 16, I was forced to go to my secondary school’s prom by my mother. Being transgender but in the closet – actually so far in the closet I didn’t know there was even such a thing as being transgender – I had always known I was not female though I had been assigned as such from birth. I was already a bit of an outcast, I definitely didn’t try to fit in – as a girl, or even with my peers in general. I was (and still am) super into music, and you’d see me in band t-shirts and jeans if it was my choice.

“I didn’t want to go to prom because I had been bullied by most of the people there who were not my friends, and I knew I’d be forced to wear a dress and be even more removed from who I really was amongst the people who were apparently supposed to know me well. “

Hunting Hearts

He continued: “I think she was trying to live vicariously through me, but my mother absolutely insisted I had to go. I was so stressed I ended up pulling my eyelashes out – having had, and still living with, trichotillomania (compulsive hair pulling), and I hoped that would be the end of it, but no – I was taken to have false eyelashes put on the day of prom. My mother decided a puffy golden dress would suit me, even though she’d never be caught dead in something like that herself, and had my curly hair straightened.

“I felt like I was being used like her doll, and lost all the autonomy I’d clawed out of myself. Not only was the experience grim in terms of my gender dysphoria, but arriving like I’d never looked before only drew more attention and bemusement towards me. I wondered why my mum wanted me to look nothing like what my friends were used to seeing.”

“It is difficult to explain how upsetting and embarrassing a situation like that is,” he added. “The best way I can get someone who is cisgender to understand how I felt, is imagining you’ve been forced to attend a formal event naked. Everyone would be looking and whispering, and you would feel totally uncomfortable, inappropriate and vulnerable.”

Devin has since found that other LGBTQ+ people  have had similar experiences around proms.

“I know I am not alone in this experience,” he said.  “So many of the LGBTQ+ people I know went through something similar, in that they were not allowed to be themselves at prom or simply didn’t go because they had such a bad relationship with bullying and isolation at school. Not to mention the nightmare of feeling like you have to find a “date”. Is prom so important to make such a fuss about? I think it’s more about the exclusion and othering, all summed up into this farewell to a stage of adolescence that many of us in the LGBTQ+ community truly struggle through, years that left us with both mental and physical scars that are healing to this day. For many people this event sparks difficult memories throughout adolescence topped off with one last hurrah to the whole ordeal. “

Devin and the rest of Hunting Hearts were inspired to take action to give LGBTQ+ people a positive prom experience.

“We decided that we had the means and methods to set up a Queer Prom experience to help heal from these bad memories – a do-over where we get to be ourselves, surrounded by acceptance, community, and good music. Our event is open to one and all – as long as you have an open mind and heart, you’re welcome at all Hunting Hearts events. We’ve gone for a retro theme this year, there will be punch, professional photographers to capture your beautiful selves. We encourage you to come in whatever you feel comfortable in!”

  • Hunting Hearts – Queer Prom at The Wedgewood Rooms, Southsea, is on Friday, November 4th, from 7pm. All ages are welcome, although under 14s must be accompanied by an adult. Tickets, priced £9, are available here.
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