Interesting things happening in the New York Ballroom Community and they center on the 2013 Latex Ball.
It's considered the largest ball competition for the ballroom community in the world. The 22nd annual edition of it at the historic Roseland Ballroom in New York back in August 2012 drew over 2000 people from the New York area and around the world competing in 26 categories in dance, vogueing, fashion, appearance and attitude.
It was an event that counted among the people attending it fashion models from Wilhelmina Models, members of the Imperial Court of New York, and countless others. The event incorporated HIV testing and sexual health messaging provided by GMHC, other community-based organizations, and the New York City and NY State health departments. Over 2,000 people from the NYC area, across the nation and around the world attended the ball which raised nearly $28,000.
But it is that $28,000 from last year's event that has the ballroom community ready to chop their participation in this mega event. There have been calls from various quarters of the community to boycott the 2013 edition of the Latex Ball because of unanswered questions about where the money went.
The Historic and Cultural House Ball Institute and its council that represents 20 houses and 12 ballroom hall of famers on it are reflective of the simmering anger in the ballroom community about this issue. They argue (and they have a major point here) since there wouldn't be a Latex Ball without the cooperation and involvement of the community, there should have been some effort by GMHC to give a portion of the proceeds raised to the ballroom community so that it would directly benefit the ballroom kids.
Gay Men's Health Crisis is claiming they used the money raised at the 2012 Latex Ball for expenses related to putting on the ball and other projects but won't say exactly what projects, programming and how much of the $28,000 raised at the ball was allocated to that GHMC programming.
GMHC is resisting calls from Wolfgang Busch, the director of the How Do I Look documentary and a longtime supporter of the NY ballroom community and the Historic and Cultural House Ball Institute to produce the documentation backing up their version of the story.
In the meantime the things that make you go hmm questions keep coming from people in the ballroom community. Sean Coleman asks of GMHC, Why charge an entrance fee? You are charging $50/$100 for VIP tickets. Where does that
And the interesting one from Sean: Why are you as a health service agency allowed to and why would you serve alcoholic beverages at a function in which you are doing HIV/AIDS testing?
Of course, GMHC is doing what most organizations in the middle of a controversy do. They are circling the wagons, deny, demonize the people criticizing you and engage in radio silence hoping to not draw the considerable attention of the New York media corps to it. GMHC hopes they can outlast the controversy and make it go away. But Busch and the ballroom community are just as determined to get the story out there and have countered with protests and YouTube videos designed to get people to ask the hard questions about it..
But GMHC is in a no win position. The only way the controversy will die is if GMHC not only starts talking, but opens their books and prove they spent the 2012 Latex Ball money on programming.
It's either you do so to Wolfgang Busch and the ballroom community or find yourself in addition to facing a boycott that would put a crimp in a highly anticipated ballroom community event, you'll be facing a federal indictment and having to prove to the feds where the money went.