Some see them as the pinnacle of the school experience, but formals can mean something else for queer students: a struggle to fit in at what are traditionally celebrations of heterosexuality.

Next month, however, at least one group of gay and lesbian youngsters will reclaim the experience when they celebrate at Australia’s first queer school formal.

The event, organised by GL@M, a Sydney queer youth support group, will give young people a chance to be themselves and break with convention.

School formals are a rite of passage for young people in Australia, organiser Amanda Middleton said.

The formal is a chance for queer young people to get together and have a good time without having to worry about what others think.

The queer celebration -“ for those aged 25 and under -“ was created after young people told Middleton they might not fit in at their school formal.

And while individuality will be emphasised on the night, there is a theme.

We’ve gone with -˜Glam It Up’ -¦ so it’s just about getting dressed up and whatever that means for you, Middleton told Sydney Star Observer.

For John Betsis, it means some nice black pants [and] a snazzy white shirt.

The 21-year-old, who has been involved with GL@M for two years and will be at the formal, said he was looking forward to an evening of worry-free celebration.

I thought it would be a pretty good event for young queer people to have available -¦ so they can have a good night and meet other queer young people, Betsis told the Star.

It’s basically for them to have a good night out, bring their partners along, get all dressed up.

The queer school formal is on 8 April, 7pm-11pm, at Manly Youth Centre, Kangaroo St, Manly, and costs $5. For bookings and information call Amanda on 9858 7724 or 0401 991 970.

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