GMHC’s Latex Ball returned with incandescent energy on June 18. After a three-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was a night of epic looks, delivered with intensely competitive flair.
About 1,700 ballgoers packed the house at Terminal 5 in Manhattan for one of the New York Ballroom scene’s most anticipated Pride Month events. With a “Summer of Love” theme to mark its 30th anniversary, the ball generated countless iconic Ballroom moments, with so many beautiful people and so much talent on the floor.
As LGBTQ+ rights come increasingly under attack, the Latex Ball celebrates the creativity, resourcefulness, and strength of the House and Ball community, which is made up mostly of Black and Latinx LGBTQ+ people.
Just as critically, it is a public health fair to promote sexual health and HIV prevention. HIV and AIDS service organizations share resources and supply free condoms and lube, other safer sex supplies, HIV testing, and referrals for PrEP. This year, ballgoers were incentivized to take an advance HIV test to gain admission to the new Latexotica VIP Lounge.
“WOW US!!!” was the only directive for the Bizarre performance category. In a moment of runway domination, grand-prize winner G Xtravaganza of the House of Xtravaganza slowly unfurled a long, glittering gold train reading “XTRAVAGANZA POWAH!” for his extravagant Witch Doctor riff.
Bizarre is unique to the Latex Ball, and its creator, Ballroom Icon Luna Luis Ortiz, is also GMHC’s Ballroom community liaison and program coordinator for Project Vogue.
“10’s across the boooard!” the judges’ verdicts rang out to cheers and applause from the crowd. Amid a rainbow of Pride flag colors, fiercely acrobatic Vogue battles scored more 10’s, while brilliantly hued capes and caftans swirled around sharp suits for All American Runway.
The Latex Ball is free to the community, and we are grateful to the many sponsors who make it possible. This year’s Hall of Fame sponsors were the New York Community Trust’s CFDA-Vogue Initiative and the New York City AIDS Fund; Meta; the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and Public Health Solutions.
Our Icon sponsors were Bloomberg Philanthropies, Gilead Sciences, Q Care Plus and Tito’s Handmade Vodka, while Legend sponsors were Boxers NYC and Avita Pharmacy.