Paradise means different things to different people but for one local teen, it means acceptance.
That was the message behind Derek Roy's promotional video for the Desert Oasis High School prom, with the theme of "A Night on Paradise Pier." The prom is Saturday, May 7.
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"So I thought about what paradise meant to me, and to me, paradise meant being somewhere I felt accepted and at peace and as part of something more," Roy said via email. "I wanted to give that feeling out to the student body with the video."
The video is inclusive of the teens at the high school, including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender teens and also straight and single students. In the video, students ask each other to prom with a card that on one side says, "I can see your future," while the other side says, "Prom?"
"I wanted to acknowledge them in the video; ultimately, the message that I decided I wanted to get across is: high school is a time to find yourself and who you want to be, so our education system should be there to support all students -- no matter their gender identity or sexual preference," Roy said. "It was important to me that I projected the idea that whether you like guys, girls or you just enjoy being single, your school is still there for you to help you find your own bit of paradise and in this case, within prom."
Roy has noticed an increased LGBT presence at his high school in southwest Las Vegas. This included last year's viral incident where a straight boy asks his gay best friend to Desert Oasis prom. Anthony Martinez and Jacob Lescenski were then featured on "The Ellen Show."
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In regards to the video, Roy said there has been an outpouring of support from Desert Oasis and the Clark County School District at large. He added Desert Oasis administrators loved the idea when he brought it to them.
"The administrators at Desert Oasis were more than willing to take a chance at this ambitious project," he said. "It shows how society today really is changing, and our education system (at least in Clark County) is ready to support the changing world. They didn't give me any barriers or restraints on how far I could push the boundary with this video, instead they gave me full creative control to deliver the most inspiring message I could."
On the message of acceptance, Roy said the goal of the video wasn't to cause any shock value or edginess to the LGBT community, "but rather make the LGBT community seem typical (in) the video -- just like any average heterosexual couple."
In addition to promoting Desert Oasis' prom, it also gave Roy, an aspiring filmmaker, an opportunity to showcase his work. He has been accepted to the Colorado Film School and hopes to make thrillers and dramas someday.