The 5th UTEP Queer Prom was sponsored by the Student Development Center, the Queer Student Alliance, the Rainbow Miner Initiative and the Campus Activities Board. (Andrea Castro/

UTEP’s Queer Prom relives the prom that should have been

EL PASO – Evening gowns sparkle and rented tuxedos shine in the fond memories of that special evening called prom night, but for Gabriel Romero the prom was just another high school event in which he couldn’t be himself. Many young adults who are a part of the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning) community, struggle with the lack of meaningful memories they have of their prom because they were either too afraid of coming out, or were not allowed to bring the date of their choice. “I never went to my prom because at the moment I just couldn’t bring my boyfriend around,” said Romero. “I wasn’t ready to come out.”

As a fun way to support those who may have been excluded from their prom because of sexual preference, The University of Texas at El Paso’s Queer Student Alliance organized its 5th annual Queer Prom at UTEP on April 13th. About one fourth of all students from elementary age through high school are victims of bullying and harassment while on school property because of race, ethnicity, gender, disability, religion or sexual orientation, according to the LGBTQ Community Website.

Members of the M Factor distribute condoms at Cincinnati district. (Michelle Blanks/

Group fights stigma and discrimination to promote HIV education and prevention

EL PASO – Five young adults wearing Mardi Gras masks and beads handed out baggies containing condoms and lubrication to persons in a crowd celebrating to the heavy syncopated beat of dance and electronica music on an icy-cold downtown street. Members of The M Factor a local program, part of the national MPowerment Organization, went from bar to bar on Stanton Street where a large number of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) venues are located. The baggies they passed out held two packages of lubrication, six to eight condoms, and one business card. Their goal is to teach HIV prevention and education and Mardi Gras was an opportunity to reach out to the LGBT community. “For the HIV testing program, we provide free rapid HIV testing, blood testing, free syphilis testing to the public, and free anonymous or confidential counseling services for them,” said Irene Ovalle, a public health supervisor in the Department of Public Health for the city of El Paso who oversees The M Factor and the HIV testing outreach programs.

“This program creates a social setting and gets men out of bars, sex clubs and risky situations and into more social settings where they can meet other men and talk and have conversations,” said David Peralta-Torres, The M Factor’s HIV Education and Prevention Specialist.

Female impersonator, Nathan Knight Jones, is better known on stage as Serena. (Erica Mendez/

Gender change is a form of self-expression for Serena

EL PASO – Dripping in diamonds, teased hair, and false lashes, she looks like a beauty queen singing and dancing, but the performer onstage is a creation by female impersonator Nathan Knight Jones. “I’m very flirtatious when I perform. The music that I choose is usually music that is going to let me interact with whomever is in the audience,” said Jones. Known as Serena when in drag, Jones has been a female impersonator in El Paso for the past two years. Competing against nine other contestants, he won the 2010 Newcomer of the Year title awarded by The New Old Plantation, or The Op, one of the more popular gay clubs in the El Paso’s LGBT scene.


Temas universales como el amor, la amistad, y controversiales como la drogadicción, el SIDA, el homosexualismo, el bisexualismo y el travestismo, son los que los personajes de la obra reflejaron junto con las canciones que se interpretaron acompañadas de la banda en vivo, y que se vivieron con gran intensidad a lo largo de dos horas.

El Paso’s 1st Annual Pride Film Festival provides insight into issues of gender and sexual identity

EL PASO — The city of El Paso hosted its first-ever major film festival featuring 26 films by, about, and for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) June 18-June 21 at both the Downtown Main Library Branch and the Plaza Philanthropy Theatre. “The Frontera Pride Film Festival is truly a community festival,” said Doctor Brenda Risch, director of the Women’s Studies department at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) and of the film festival committee. “For it would not have come to fruition without the dedication and countless hours of hard work from our diverse planning board and much support from our community.” The film festival was also possible thanks the hard work and support of the Women’s Studies Program at UTEP. The program provided internship experiences to students by offering work in the film festival. A Queer Cinema course under the Women’s Studies program also participated.