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Elderly Gay And Lesbian Couples Finally Get Their Prom

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Many gay and lesbian senior citizens never had a chance to take who they wanted to their prom, not until the the L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center held one just for them in Hollywood on Saturday.

For some, the prom was a wonderful opportunity to finally dance in public with their significant other. For others, like 88-year-old Robert Clement, that chance came far too late since his partner of 44 years, John Darcy Noble, died 10 years ago.

Clement told the L.A. Times that he didn't take a date to his high school prom in a small Pennsylvania town in 1942. "Proms are a rite of passage," Clement said. "A heterosexual rite of passage.... But it wasn't mine."

He was solo again for Saturday's prom, but he still dressed up in "a very fancy shirt— my fake Versace." He smiled, talking about his late partner, whom he said would have adored the event: "I would have been with the most popular guy at the dance."

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Pam Jones-McCoard, 68, was there with both her female date and her husband, who brought his own male date. She and her husband had married many years ago, as many gays and lesbians did before it was okay to be out.

"Tomorrow's our 28th anniversary," she said, smiling about the arrangement, which always included "separate bedrooms, of course."

There was a Lucille Ball impersonator, a conga line and a red carpet. A prom queen and king were chosen, although they each chose same-sex partners to dance with.

Even after the defeat of DOMA, many promgoers did not feel free to give their real names to the Times reporter covering the event.

Two who didn't mind were Shirley Horowitz, 90, and Marie McPherson, 91, who came from New York. They met at a dinner party in New York in 1947 and have been together 66 years.

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"It was like living in old times with old friends," Clement said of the party. "The whole place just came together."

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