As far as coming-of-age Aussie rituals go, the high school formal is one of the biggest. But while it's a rite of passage for many young people, it's not exactly an inclusive one. Even in 2018.
"I went to both my school formals, but I had to, you know, wear a dress and go with a male date. I couldn't be who I was because I wasn't out of the closet and I couldn't go with the dates I actually wanted to go with," freelance graphic designer Alistair Ott said.
"If I did want to go to my high school formal with a partner of the same sex, it would be labelled as going with a friend, not a date,"19-year-old Hunter Maycock said.
According to La Trobe University, almost half of all gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people hide their sexual orientation or gender identity for fear of discrimination.
Both Maycock and Ott are on the planning committee for YWCA's LGBTQIA+ and allies prom, which is now in its third year.
With trans communities it's an opportunity to wear clothing you feel more comfortable in.Hunter Maycock
Twenty-eight people attended the first prom in 2016, 158 attended in 2017 and now in 2018, there are 200 ready to party.
The event is open to all young people aged 12-25 years. For many, it's the inclusive formal they never had.
"With trans communities it's an opportunity to wear clothing you feel more comfortable in, which isn't always an option at traditional school formals," Maycock said.
"This is a chance for me to have the prom I always wanted, but couldn't have, because I was marginalised. This is the first prom where I can wear a suit, which is really exciting for me," Ott said.
Tickets are free for attendees of the LGBTQIA+ and allies prom, as individuals and groups in the Canberra community have stepped in to sponsor.
According to Ciára Duggan, YWCA's youth team leader, the increased attendance is a result of the youths and their marketing savvy. They've also joined the SpringOUT Pride Festival this year.
Thursday night's prom featured a DJ, fairy floss, popcorn, a lolly bar, a face painter, and a two-course meal all in the theme of "wonderland". But dressing to theme wasn't required.
"We had the strong message of: come as you are. In anything you feel comfortable in. We had those who suit up, wear beautiful dresses, and then some who wear hoodies and jeans, like me," Duggan said.