This week I had the wonderful experience of attending the Curious Vogue Ball, as part of the Curious Arts Festival which takes place in the North East every summer to celebrate gender and sexual diversity. Vogue balls, as Manchester’s House of Ghetto explained to us, grew up out of the desire for black and latino/a people on the American East and West coasts to express who they were. It is fashionable to deride the desire for safe spaces, fashionable by those who have never had to fear being themselves, or hide who they are. For one night a group of strangers were transformed through the power of dance, where those on stage expressed the feelings of pride, shame, desire, and defiance.
Amid corporate rainbows and arguments about who should, and should not, be included under the LGBTAQQI umbrella it was a powerful and perhaps necesscary reminder that pride is a moment of empowerment, of claiming space, and saying, this is who I am. When we march, or promenade, protest or pose, at heart we are doing the same thing, demanding our right to be seen as who, and what we are.
Perhaps one day there will be no need to “queer” spaces – instead we will all be able to be all of who we are in every space. Until that time moments of community like this are vital, as we drop the walls which separate us, and celebrate that which so often is used to shame and blame us.