For residents of an LGBTQ+ retirement home, “senior” prom takes on a whole new meaning.
For so many high-schoolers, prom is a rite of passage in all of its love-filled, well-coiffed, abundantly photographed glory. But for generations of LGBTQ+ youth – especially those that grew up in the decades before Stonewall – prom has been emblematic of the exclusion from a world they could not experience as their authentic selves.
But at Triangle Square, a haven for LGBTQ+ retirees in Hollywood, California, the idea of a “senior” prom has taken on an entirely new meaning. Over a night of dancing, kissing, and crowning of prom queens, these trailblazing seniors relect back on how far they’ve come and their dreams for the next generation. Father Robert Clement, an openly gay clergyman and founder of the first LGBTQ+ church in New York, recalls the birth of the gay rights movement; Andi Segal remembers the undergound lesbian bars of Los Angeles; and Nancy Valverde, a Chicana lesbian from East L.A., recounts her many arrests for “masquerading” in “men’s” clothing —and her never-back-down nerve in the face of police intimidation.
Senior Prom celebrates our eldest LGBTQ+ generation who spent a lifetime fighting for the right to love openly and, via rich personal archives, retraces lives and legacies of resistance that helped change the course of civil rights.
Luisa Conlon is a documentary filmmaker, cinematographer, and journalist based in Los Angeles. Her most recent film We Became Fragments (New York Times Op-Docs) was nominated for a 2019 International Documentary Association Award and selected as a finalist for the Livingston Awards. Luisa’s work has been supported by the Tribeca Film Institute, The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, and the Berkeley Film Foundation. As a director of photography, Luisa collaborates frequently with outlets including Netflix, the New York Times, The Atlantic, NBC, and VICE Media where Luisa is the series DP for The Scarlett Letter and their Latinx series. Their team’s coverage on HIV and drag activism in the Rio Grande Valley was nominated for a 2019 GLAAD Media Award. She received her BFA in Film & TV from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and her Masters in Journalism from UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism where she studied under Orlando Bagwell and Jon Else.