“To be honest, the only thing I was worrying about was falling in my 13-inch platform shoes,” says 18-year-old Peter O’Shea, who wore two outrageous BCALLA looks to his high school prom, opting out of the traditional tailored suit. “My outfit was definitely not in code: the middle fingers painted on the romper, and the fact that my nipples were quite literally falling out most of the night. To my surprise, not one of my teachers said anything about it—in fact, they asked for pictures with me.”
Where most high schoolers conform to almost everything, especially prom classics, O’Shea prefers to stand out, previously donning a pink mohawk, matching blazer, red leather pants and Mary Janes to last year’s annual dance. “This time, I felt the pressure to go a little further,” he says, deciding to realize a dream of wearing Brooklyn-based drag staple, BCALLA . “It’s the perfect place because it’s so wrong for the occasion that it’s right.”
For the big night, O’Shea pulled a pair of BCALLA looks, because every prom deserves a mid-evening outfit change. First he wore an oversized tee, featuring a three-eyed monster with razor-sharp teeth and a septum to match his own. Paired with towering Bowie-like boots and '90s J-Lo hoops, the queer Californian stormed into his school and inevitably caused a scene. “We made it in and got to the dance floor, where the most I could do was the ‘Electric Slide,’ but barely,” he remembers, wearing shoes that doubled as a health hazard.
That’s when O’Shea switched into his nipple-baring BCALLA jumpsuit, styled with cheap starry stilettos he purchased at a stripper boutique in Redwood City the day before. His glittery, technicolor look and somewhat more sensible footwear allowed him to finally let loose and exercise what he, and RuPaul, describe as three unalienable rights: "Life, liberty and the pursuit of style." O’Shea served it so hard, he skipped prom's after parties altogether and immediately passed out at home.
“I am fortunate enough to attend a school in the bay area, where queer visibility and diversity is amazingly high,” O’Shea says. “But keep in mind that it is high school. People have definitely asked me very ignorant questions before. I don’t mind, I just keep my head up high and remember the people who celebrate how I dress and who I am.”
Wearing BCALLA especially helped O’Shea stay confident at prom despite students’ stares, not only because he’s long been a fan, but because the looks helped him feel comfortable embracing his body. “I felt liberated,” he says, admitting his body has always been a source of insecurity. “That night, I really let go of worrying about reactions and just let myself be who I wanted to be.”
This open mentality, O’Shea suggests, could have an incredible sociopolitical impact if adopted by more people around the world. Being yourself becomes a weapon, he says, underlining his prom looks as an example of effective queer visibility. “I want to see more people like me, who don’t let gender restrictions drag them down to wearing dull clothing,” O’Shea says. “If we all look how we want and don’t force stereotypes onto people, this world would be more peaceful, and we could bridge a lot more gaps.”