CONCORD, Calif. - For East Bay high school student Ryan Nelson, the upcoming prom will be particularly special.
Nelson, who identifies as a transgender male, is not talking about a traditional prom, he's planning to attend the first-ever ‘Pride Prom’ for LGBTQ+ students from nine Contra Costa County high schools in Concord, Martinez, and Clayton.
"Going to a place where you can say you are queer, be your full self without worrying about being bullied is magical," says Nelson.
The prom will take place at Concord High School. About 100 students are expected to attend.
"I think anything we can do to help kids feel like they have a space is important," says Rianne Pfaltzgraff, principal of Concord High School.
Pride proms have taken place in Southern California. But this will be the first in the Bay Area. The Rainbow Community Center is co-sponsoring the event.
"What has been prom in our history has not always been inclusive for folks who identify like us. There's a lot of risks, a lot of stigmas and we want to be able to celebrate these beautiful milestones," said Kiku Johnson, executive director of the Rainbow Community Center of Contra Costa County.
The organizations are raising money to buy the $40 prom ticket to help students who can't afford it or are not yet ready to come out to their parents and ask for the money.
"There are folks sponsoring tickets. They know there are a lot of barriers out there," says Johnson.
The prom is not excluding straight students, but is only allowing those who come in support of their LGBTQ+ classmates.
"From the community, I have heard nothing but good things. Happy that we are doing it. Happy that we are being supportive," said Pfaltzgraff.
The prom is scheduled for Saturday, April 23 in the Concord High gym.
"It's a safe place to be your full self. To enjoy an experience others get to experience fully," said Nelson.