Entering the Ballroom on World AIDS Day

On World AIDS Day, let’s take it up a notch and take a walk at the ball! For decades we have used this day to spread awareness and advocate for the end of the HIV epidemic, but we cannot talk about the good fight without mentioning the ballroom scene.

Mainstream shows and documentaries like Pose, How Do I Look?, Paris is Burning, and Legendary have given most of us a peek into the world of ballroom. The culture started in New York City by Black people, primarily those in the LGBT+ community. Today, many houses (or groups) can be found all around the world hosting their own spectacular dance events and competitions.

In the ballroom, people might be serving face or striking a pose but there’s much more to it — they can enter knowing it’s safe under all the glitter and glamour that was made by them, and for them. It’s also a place where public health advocates have allocated resources and information about HIV/AIDS.

Donte Prayer, the new HIV Program Manager for The Center for Black Health & Equity, brings his colleague Kenya Hutton, Deputy Director for the Center for Black Equity, to the podcast to share their insights on ballroom culture.

Both of them say while the space has helped people navigate through the epidemic, ballroom is still highly criticized.

Along with stigma, there are issues concerning equity in treatment and health laws that are harmful to Black people living with HIV. Special host Natasha Phelps, the new Director of Equity-Centered Policies at The Center, leads the conversation from a health justice perspective.

What do you think about ballroom? Email us at info@centerforblackhealth.org with your comments.