Cara Fuller, Taylor Kennepohl, Evan Skora, and Matt Zinik: Acceptance Advocators

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Cara Fuller, Taylor Kennepohl, Evan Skora, and Matt Zinik: Acceptance Advocators

Kienna Kulzer

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Credit: Bethany Fankhauser/The Foothill Dragon PressSeniors Cara Fuller, Taylor Kennepohl, Evan Skora, and Matt Zinik are giving back by working to extend acceptance to everyone by helping other LGBT (Lesbian, Gay Bisexual, or Transgender) teens feel more like a part of the community.

They have worked towards that goal through volunteering and hosting Ventura’s first Gay Prom. There were criticisms from some people in the community, who thought a separate prom was unnecessary because the majority of high schools in the county now allow all couples to attend.

“In regular proms, it’s not that people are not allowing same sex couples to attend, it’s when they decide to come and go there, they feel uncomfortable and like they can’t be themselves, like they have to hold back,” Taylor Kennepohl said.

Credit: Bethany Fankhauser/The Foothill Dragon Press

They wanted Gay Prom to provide LGBT students with a comfortable environment and an opportunity to meet other people who are like them and who can relate to what they are going through.

“When you’re not out, and you’re scared and stuff, you don’t really look for people at school, because you’re afraid they’ll find out. So sometimes you would go online or something, and that’s not safe at all,” Evan Skora said.

The prom was open to anyone. One of the main goals of the project was to diminish the labels and separation between the LGBT people and the rest of the community.

“When people say something like ‘this is a gay right’s issue’ what they don’t realize is that it’s a human right’s issue, and it’s something that needs to be addressed in some way, or else there’s always going to be that sort of separate attitude,” Kennepohl said.

The four students have been promoting that sense of joint community not only through the prom, but also through two local LGBT groups, COLOR (Community Organized for Liberty, Opportunity, and Respect) and Rainbow Umbrella. COLOR promotes community acceptance and a few years ago started the Color Gardens, a community garden located on the streets Poli and Chesnut in Ventura that donates sections of the crops to food shares. Rainbow Umbrella is an activities-based program that works to provide support and empowerment for LGBT people.

“I really hope someone else picks this up next year because this is something that people really need. It is really important, and I hope it grows,” Skora said.  

What do you think?