Queer youth create safe spaces where they can be open about their identity; what if those spaces extended into a larger public sphere? The experience of queer youth of color will be demystified and humanized to the greater public and whomever they choose to include.
On Display is a creative spacemaking initiative that increases visibility of Kiki Ball participants beyond the Ball, to whatever safe space the participant has chosen. How? We set up a photography space in a well-attended ball, shot portraits, and placed the prints in museum quality frames. We gave the framed prints to participants to place in any places they like - intimate or public, chosen family or biological, people who see them or who they wish would see them. The first showing of these portraits is scheduled to occur at the Gay Men of African Descent head offices in Downtown Brooklyn, an anti-stigma organization that provides community, STD testing, and support for gay black men and transgender women.
1: LBGT and Queer youth have the experience of being framed in an extremely elegant fashion, reinforcing their worth as important and desirable people.
2: Participants identify safe spaces where their work of art will hang. This is a strategy to engage site owners in conversations about safe spaces and celebrate with those who create and build them. The hanging work serves to further illuminate and reinforce these spaces as safe for other LGBTQ youth.
For years, queer youth alienated from their families for being themselves, have banded together and created chosen families. Particularly in New York City, these families became known as “houses” and emerged as a large part of identity for young LGBTQ people, particularly gay males of African-American and Latino descent. Members of Houses invented Balls as ways to socialize, compete in dress and attitude, and make themselves and each other famous. Balls continue to thrive today, and are some of the largest and safest informal gatherings of LGBTQ people of color in the City, especially among individuals like transwomen, who continue to be victim to so much senseless violence and brutality.
1. Picture frames on craigslist 2. Nails & Hammers 3. Community Center 4. People 5. DLSR Camera 6. Photographer, Backdrop, Lights, & Equipment 7. Safe Spaces 8. Fonzy (the event organizer)