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"Night Under the Sea" prom welcomes LGBT community

Organizers explained the event provides a safe space for people to be themselves.

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — June is LGBT pride month, and the Coastal Bend PRIDE Center celebrated by hosting a prom.

It is the seventh time the prom was held and is open to middle and high school teens across the Coastal Bend.

The event provided a safe space for the LGBT community with this year's theme being "Night Under the Sea." The theme was picked because of the new "Little Mermaid" movie that was recently released.

Organizers said about 150-200 kids usually attend. They explained it helps the LGBT community know they are welcome to come and be themselves.

"Here, I'm safe, and here, I'm welcomed," said Mylo Cantu, a W.B. Ray High School senior.

This was not Cantu's first prom, always looking forward to the positivity it brings every year.

"I absolutely enjoy coming to these events. This is my third prom attending and it's honestly the highlight of my summer," Cantu said.

PRIDE Center Director Barton Bailey said the prom used to be at different rented venues before it was hosted at their current location. He said there was not anything like this when he was a teenager, so he is happy to see the difference it makes for the LGBT community now.

"This is really about acceptance for who you are. Prom is really about being able to express that and being able to be your own unique person," Bailey explained.

For others like Nicholas Pantoja, the prom is a chance to dress up and show off a sense of style.

"I treat it like the Met Gala," Pantoja said. "Like, I just love dressing up for each theme. I think it's really fun."

Pantoja said the PRIDE Center also helps people be comfortable coming out, but that it is important not to rush it. At events like Saturday's prom, it is all about being proud to be a part of the LGBT community.

"I get to express myself and still feel like, like comfortable to just be myself," Pantoja said.

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