June is a month that not only sees many fabulous and brightly festooned Pride celebrations across our US cities, at the beginning of the month, NYC held its Latex Ball once again.
Thousands attended the 21st annual celebration, produced by GMHC, at The Terminal 5 club. The event also provided, as always, a strong sense of community for Black and Latinx LGBTQ+ youth and adults. This year New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, facilitated by the White House National Mpox Response, offered free mpox vaccines and the GMHC’s free HIV tests for anyone who wanted either or both.
For its 2nd year in a row, the ball featured their Latexotica VIP Lounge, offering free food, soft drinks, and chances to win exclusive giveaways. Access to the lounge was exclusive to individuals who did indeed get tested for HIV at GMHC before the ball and/or who received an mpox vaccine on the day of the ball.
Hall of Fame Sponsor was Gilead Sciences, Inc. The Legend Sponsor was Tito’s Handmade Vodka. And the Statement Sponsors were Avita Pharmacy and Boxers NYC. This year’s competition categories focused on the theme “Music Is My Life,” with a panel of veteran judges selecting individual and team winners of participants competing across the ball’s runway for trophies and cash prizes.
As their press indicates: The House and Ball community, comprised predominately of Black and Latinx LGBTQ+ youth and adults, is built from an organizational structure of “houses.” A house is a club or chosen family that includes a “house other,” “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 have been rejected by their families and faith communities and who otherwise might be homeless.
Again, wonderful people holding their yearly alternate fashion get-together to further great causes.
You can clearly see from these photos and more you can find here NYC’s Latex Ball was a ball for any of us lovers of latex and hopeful for a healthy future for everyone.
blog heading photo: Chris Spinelli