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Thousands Expected to Attend GMHC's 23rd Annual Latex Ball

The Largest Ball For the House and Ball Community in the World
8.11.2013
Thousands Expected to Attend GMHC's 23rd Annual Latex Ball

New York, NY--On Saturday, August 17, GMHC will host the 23rd annual Latex Ball. This year, the ball will move to a new venue, Terminal Five, and will feature 27 categories-competitions in dance, vogueing, fashion and appearance (a full list is available on gmhc.org).

 
Over 2,000 people from the NYC area, across the nation and around the world are expected to attend, including fashion models, designers, famous photographers and members of House and Ballroom community. The Latex Ball is the largest ball for the House and Ball community in the world.
 
The event incorporates HIV testing and sexual health messaging provided by GMHC, 30 other community-based organizations, as well as the NYC and NY State health departments. "The Latex Ball is an important public health intervention that primarily reaches Black and Latino youth and adults who continue to be disproportionately impacted by HIV," said Janet Weinberg, Chief Operating Officer of GMHC. "The ball taps into the creativity, resiliency and strength that exist within the House and Ball community, celebrates their community and dynamism and encourages members to channel their talents into ways that impact mainstream culture."
 
This year, the competition categories were designed around the cheeky theme of "Controversy Through Time: Where Scandals and Celebs Meet."  Individual and team winners will be selected by a panel of esteemed judges. Participants in the competitions (categories) compete amongst each other (such as walking the runway) for trophies and cash prizes in various categories. Prior to the start of competitions, entertainers perform at the delight of the audience.  
 
Awards based on excellence in performance, creativity and community service are also given to respected leaders in the community. This year, one honoree is celebrity photographer, Mike Ruiz, who has a true sense of social responsibility and consistently gives back to the community. Among the countless organizations he supports are GMHC, the Ali Forney Center and the Trevor Project. He donated his time and talent to make the "Kiss and Tell" campaign by GMHC's youth prevention program a huge success.
 
The House and Ballroom community, comprised predominately though not exclusively of Black and Latino LGBTQ individuals, is built uponan organizational structure of "houses." A "house" is considered a club or "surrogate family" which has a "house mother," "house father" and "children" who adopt the house name as their surname (e.g., Luna Khan, Father of the House of Khan, etc.). Members of the houses, both young and older, compete in balls and related activities sponsored by various houses and promoters throughout the year. House mothers and fathers often provide support for LGBTQ youth who otherwise might be homeless, nearly homeless, and/or without any parental guidance.
 
The House and Ball community was chronicled in the 1990 documentary, "Paris is Burning," directed by Jennie Livingston, in which she followed the members of the House and Ball community over the course of seven years. To this day, this movie is still considered a definitive film about the community.
 
With the House and Ball community losing many members to AIDS at the onset of the HIV epidemic in the 1980s, and with many other members either HIV-positive or at high-risk of contracting the virus, GMHC and leaders from the ballroom community created the House of Latex Project in 1989.  The Latex Project, which runs the Latex Ball, continues to link community members with resources to improve health outcomes, and provide workshops on HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.
 
Staff members from GMHC conduct outreach at balls, LGBTQ youth venues and through social media networks to incorporate innovative approaches to HIV prevention and safer sex messaging.   GMHC also hosts mini-balls, also known as "kiki functions," that reach hundreds of youth and young adults, offer HIV testing and prevention materials, and serve youth who are not affiliated with a house, but who are part of the broader ballroom community.  
 
Event Information
23rd Annual Latex Ball
Saturday, August 17
8:00 am to 4:00 am
Terminal Five
610 West 56th Street
(between 11th and 12th Avenues)
 
Opportunities for filming, photos, and interviews will be available for media.  For media passes, media must contact Krishna Stone at (212) 367-1016 or (646) 280-5948 prior to August 17. 
 
Performers (prior to the start of the competitions): 
Entertainers: Dina Marie, Harmonica Sunbeam
Singers: Lexz Pryde, Lourdes 'Lulu' Morales (Deep In Vogue) and Miesa
Dance Team: The New Breed