After many conversations among the Kaleidoscope leadership, the organization as a whole, and a campus-wide forum, we as an organization, have decided to close the book on Crystal Ball.
Students’ memories from past Crystal Balls are largely mixed. Some remember a fun dance with friends, but others have shared stories of stress, alienation, and discomfort. While the goal of Crystal Ball has always been to challenge ideas about gender identity, the event has played into a common misconception of drag – that people are supposed to dress as the “opposite” gender. Many trans students and otherwise gender non-conforming members of K’s community are made uncomfortable by this perpetuation of the gender binary.
At its origin, Crystal Ball was a much smaller event, put on by queer students to celebrate queerness and identity. We believe the event has strayed away from this atmosphere of celebration in order to appeal to the greater campus community. Kaleidoscope, at its core, is an organization that strives to make Kalamazoo College a safe, comfortable, and welcoming space for queer students and Crystal Ball was not meeting that goal. For this reason, there will not be a Crystal Ball this year.
However, Kaleidoscope is very excited to announce that this spring we will be hosting K’s very first Pride Prom. Similar to Crystal Ball, Pride Prom will be a fabulous dance party open to all K students. The dance will be held in Hicks, where there will be other fun activities and food available.
Unlike Crystal Ball, Pride Prom will not be a drag ball. Instead, the event will be a space where people can feel free to dress and present as they please. Be it presenting a different gender than usual, or simply getting all gussied up, Pride Prom will be a formal event encouraging the expression of whatever identity makes attendees feel the most comfortable and secure. Although we still encourage the challenging of gender norms and the exploration of gender expression at the event, we emphasize that drag is no longer a main theme, and we would like to discourage students from dressing in drag just to put on a “costume”.
Kaleidoscope believes that Pride Prom will be a better and more welcoming space for queer students at K. We as an organization hope that the general campus will support our decision in attempting to make the event more inclusive. If you have any questions about Pride Prom, please contact Kaleidoscope members Dallas Pallone, Sara Gwen, Kate Ballew, Abby Lu, Drew Barna, and Audrey Negro.