PARIS IS ~STILL~ BURNING!
Paris is Burning is a documentary filmed in New York City in 1987 directed by Jennie Livingston. Here in 2014, we listen to all these words being used as current slang like “Shade”, “Reading” and doing it for the “Kids”. This lingo has been around for years. “Learn it and Learn it well” to say the least. Back in the 80’s and much before, men would gather together and have competitions with themselves called Balls. It was an escape for the black gay men whom wanted to feel the spotlight. To be a flashy gay black man in the 80s would get you killed in the streets, at these balls they were allowed to live out their fantasy while walking down the ballroom. It gave you the ability to become legendary in a society that gave you 3 strikes. You’re a Black Man and You’re Gay, add a dress and heels to that and its over for you.
The balls started out with the kids wanting to look like vegas show girls in the 70s and them wanting to look like movie stars all the way into the 80s, when the super model was what they wanted to mimic. With categories that break up the looks into any and everything you can think of gives them so much style and fashion to work with. Even with a categories of “realness” being able to pass as straight; the ability to fool the untrained eye that you are a gay man. Giving society what they want to see instead of what you really are. Be sure that you come correct because the audience will eat your ass up if you’re not on point.
The term “House” can be summed up as being a Gay Street Gang. Except there is not a knife fight. It’s about walking a ball and leaving it out on the floor. These Houses provide families for the kids. They offered protection and love when their real families have thrown them out or disowned them. The Mother of the House is the leader like in traditional households.
This by no means is about a bunch a men and boys playing dress up, this is a lifestyle that they live all day everyday. The ball gives confidence while some of them live their lives as men who dress in drag. Some want to be women and have taken all the steps to be so. Nothing you really want comes easy and they will show you. As with life some will fall and some will make it. Paris is Burning is something you should watch to get a glimpse into what it was like back over 25 years ago!
NYC has changed and African American Gay men have these men to thank. With the NYC Gay Pride Parade approaching later this month, I just wanted to shout out those that made being yourself in theses streets just a little bit more acceptable to those who don’t understand. We still have hate crimes happen on a regular basis, but we have won the vote to at least marry. Things are changing and with that the ignorance still lingers. I hope that one day people will be able to fully be whoever and whatever they want without fear of being beat or killed. I say BRAVO to the KIDS and the Legendary Children! I am giving 10s across the board for the bravery and nerve it takes to be yourself.
Here in 2014, we have shows like Ru Paul’s Drag Race, only hope to bring Paris to you on a level middle America can handle. Check Out Paris is Burning to get the scoop on where it all started.
It is June and that means Gay Pride Month in NYC! Get out there and enjoy! No H8!
Also be sure to stay tuned on Unfltrd for more Gay Pride news and events coming to the city, including “Rainbow Fashion Week” produced by Unfltrd’s own, L’ashae Moreland but more details about that later!