If you associate prom with pigs blood spattered on the wall because you were home watching Carrie instead of actually attending your high school prom, you’re not alone. According to a study on queer youth by the Human Rights Campaign in 2018, only 26 percent of students polled said they always feel safe in school classrooms, and only 5 percent said their teachers and school are supportive of LGBTQ people. No one would blame you if you skipped out on your prom or didn’t have a very good time there.
Queer popstar Donna Missal wants to change that. As a homeschooled student herself, she understands the feeling of not being loved and supported by fellow classmates, and she wants to give us all the prom we never had. That’s why she’s throwing a prom-themed party at each stop of her tour. We caught up with Missal about her LGBTQ identity, her tour and music, and why everyone deserves to go to prom.
Talk to us about your prom tour and why this theme is important to you.
This is my first-ever headlining tour, so I really wanted to make it a special, memorable experience. I was homeschooled; I never had a prom or a school dance at all really; I never had a picture day, so I started thinking about that and how that applied to my album, and thought that it would be really fun and cool for my first tour to create this experience where you walk into the venue and you’re transported somewhere.
I wanted to create an experience that gives you some really great memories. The more people I talked to about prom, it seems that there is so much social pressure built around the experience, and no one knows who they are or what they are about or what they believe in at that time. Maybe they are closeted, or maybe they are sort of a dejected kid who doesn’t have any friends. Maybe they didn’t get invited or are too nervous to show up without a date. I wanted to do something so that doesn’t have to be your memory of a school dance.
I wanted to create this inclusive space where you can bring who you want, wear what you want, come alone or bring friends, and create this redo for myself, the homeschooled kid, and anyone who wants to relive this experience.
What are you most excited about with your new music and tour?
Definitely getting to tour. It’s weird to be an artist today making music, and you sort of throw it online and hope that people like it. When you go on tour, you get to interact with people face-to-face and see people singing your songs and really feel the impact in the music in a really personal, human, real-life kind of way. I love to tour, and I’m really excited to get the opportunity to meet all the people that this record has impacted throughout the country. I feel really thankful to have the opportunity to do that.
Do you have anything new you want to announce?
I just directed my first music video for my song “Jupiter” on the record, and I’m really stoked for it. I am excited to do something I really wanted to do, which is maintain complete control of my art and make something that was just for me.
I also wrote a new song that I first performed on my first day of the tour, which was Valentine’s Day. I think it’s an intrinsically kind of difficult day for a lot of people; there is sort of this agenda behind Valentine’s Day that doesn’t suit a lot of people. You have to have a date or be in a healthy, happy relationship, and I think a lot of people are impacted negatively by that narrative, because it makes you forget that you don’t need other people to be healthy and happy.
I really want this year to be full of accepting myself creatively, and there are a lot of things I’m working on that I’m stoked to share with people.
Why is being an openly bisexual musician important to you, and how do you work your identity into music?
I think it’s important, because I want to get to a point where this conversation is no longer relevant, where you don’t have to identify yourself by your sexual identity, and we can all just sort of accept one another no matter what. That’s the ideal scenario, and you can’t get there without putting in the work and dealing with the oppression of all the gay people across the spectrum. If I expect to get to a point where it’s not relevant, I have to put in the work using my voice and the opportunity to speak to people, to reach people, to make sure I’m not taking it for granted and using my voice as a tool to spread acceptance.
Especially as a bisexual person, my identity is often totally looked over from the hetero community and sometimes even from the gay community, and I just want other people who identify this way to feel accepted and valid. Sometimes all it takes is one person you respect or admire or have access to to say, ‘This is who I am, and I’m proud of this.’
In my art, everything I do and say, creatively or otherwise, comes from the point of view and perspective of someone on the queer spectrum, and I think for me, the goal is to validate the art of the people on that spectrum, because queer art is and always has been very important art. I want my art to say that we are all the f*cking same, we all have the same highs and lows.
How do you think music can have an impact on politics in this day and age?
I think music is very powerful, and people take it really seriously. There is sort of no limit to what people can do in culture or society, and we can decide what happens. So if music is perpetuating politics that are inclusive to all people and for the greater good of all people, and if it promotes messages of acceptance of yourself and others and things that are positive, I think it can have a major impact. It’s an amazing time for music.
Photos by Malia James