Often times within the gay community we tend to hang with our own and never venture outside of our immediate circle of friends. White gays hang with other white gays, Black gays hang with other back gays, lesbians with lesbians, and so on.
Early on in my activism career, I decided that I was going to try and break that habit and attend events in different communities with people of different races and sexual orientations. That is how I found myself attending late night balls in Los Angeles and getting home at 6 a.m.
A very good friend of mine has a lover who is a "ballroom walker," in fact, he’s considered to be legendary. I remember sitting around the table at dinner with my friends and listening to them talk about who walked what category and who "brought it" or who threw "shade." I knew then that I had to go and find out what they were talking about. So I studied up, I went on the Internet and found out some more information so I would know what to expect, I even rented Paris is Burning so I could get a visual, but nothing could have prepared me for the real deal.
I attended my first ball over two years ago. From the first ball I attended I was hooked. I fell in love with the creativity of the balls. The beauty of the people and the simple idea of what a ball is and what houses do for a segment of our community that is often displaced from their families and friends because of their sexual orientation. Sure, the ballroom community is not exempt from drama, in fact there’s a lot of it. But it gets played out on the runway and I like that. Every house is better than the next and there’s always someone who can vogue better than someone else, but it’s all in the name of perfection and excellence.
In the ballroom community, the transgender and gay communities come together and compete in a variety of categories. I am always amazed at how beautiful everyone is. I have transgender friends whose body looks so damn good, I feel ashamed standing next to them. I mean they look good. I know young men, who could compete any day on America’s Top Model and win. Believe that.
I guess I would have to say that the commentator for the evening always makes my day. I have a favorite, Selvin. Selvin doesn’t take any shit. I like that.
My favorite category is the vogue performance, I will admit. I happen to fancy the old school method of voguing. I like the new way as well, but old school is definitely my favorite. The way that our bodies move when we vogue is so hypnotizing and absolutely beautiful. Some days at home, I practice voguing myself, lol. Maybe one day I’ll walk Virgin Vogue and walk away with the trophy.
Well, there are so many houses in the ballroom scene that it’s hard to keep up with all of the new chapters of this house or that house, but one name has always left their mark in the ballroom scene and that’s the House of Omni.
Saturday night, I had the privilege of attending the House of Omni’s 25th Anniversary celebration in Los Angeles. I was absolutely floored and amazed at the layout for this wonderful celebration of family and pride. From the banquet to the layout of the floor to the ball, everything was perfect.
I was given the honor of speaking during the banquet on excellence and the importance of the ballroom community in the mission of the overall gay community. It was a pleasure and something that I will never forget.
I was amazed to meet mother’s of children who flew to Los Angeles to support their sons in their passion of the ballroom scene. I think the highlight of my night, was meeting Kevin Burrus Omni and Willie Ninja, who I remember from Paris is Burning. I was so mad I didn’t bring my digital camera!
Kevin and I have spoken often via email and it was so nice to meet him in person. I didn’t now much about Willie Ninja, but I knew he was an Icon and one that was much respected in the ballroom scene. When he got up during Stars, Statements and Legends, I knew why.
The only thing that bothered me about the evening was the lack of disrespect to me by some of the younger ballroom kids. Now mind you, I am not a ballroom walker, more like a ballroom stalker. I like to go and watch and every now and than judge. But even I know, that when you have a legend and icon get on the floor, you stand up. That was something that was obviously missed by a lot of the youngsters in the room. Standing up is a sign of respect for someone who paid their dues and made a place for you in the scene. When Willie Ninja got up on the floor I stood up as did my table. But the younger kids in the room just sat there. Selvin, as only Selvin can do, stopped the music and read them about that and still not everyone stood up.
The Grand March took quite a while but was well worth it. Revlon turned it as did the entire Omni family. All in all, I had a wonderful time and was pleased to see that the New York Times had came out to do a story on the event.
The 25th Anniversary of the House of Omni gets 10s across the board. Thank you for Father Taz Omni, Brandon Omni, Clint Omni, Devin Omni and Kevin Burrus Omni for being my friend and including me in your wonderful celebration. I give you
So I guess now I need to lose like fifty pounds and choose my category and get out there.
For more information on the Ballroom Scene check out these websites