Friday, February 05, 2010

Know Your LGBT History - Paris Is Burning

In celebration of Black History Month, I wanted to focus on a positive movie featuring lgbts of color.

Unfortunately there aren't many out there but one which should be on the top of everyone's list is Paris Is Burning.

Paris Is Burning (1990) is a documentary which centers on the ball scene in New York City during the late 1980s. It tells the story of how various young African-American gays and transgenders unite themselves in "houses"  and compete for trophies during that they call "balls." Balls are competitions in which they showcase their style, fashion, and dance movies.

The documentary gives a window into the world of people seemingly deserted by both the black and gay communities. It shows how they love and support each other, giving each other what both the gay and black communities are failing to deliver - appreciation and empowerment.

I love this movie and the personalities in it from Pepper LaBeija to Angela Xtravaganza to Dorian Corey; especially Dorian Corey.

And there is an interesting story regarding Corey. When she died, folks went through her apartment looking for old costumes and the like and found a mummified body with a note which said:

"This poor soul broke into my apartment and I was forced to shoot him."

As morbid as this story is, it emphasizes what I liked about the gays and transgenders in Paris Is Burning. Faced with a double negative of criticism from black community and unintentional omission from the gay community, they learned to take care of themselves and do it well.

The following is a clip from Paris Is Burning:

And be on the lookout tomorrow as I will start a weekend series looking at lgbts of color in celebration of Black History Month

And to kick it off, I am offering a $25 gift certificate to the first person who can give the identity of tomorrow's first spotlighted hero.

I will give you a hint. He is the first black gay man to be nominated for an Oscar. Here is another hint - it's not Lee Daniels. Daniels was the second black gay man to be nominated for an Oscar.

The first person who posts the answer as a comment on this blog wins the gift certificate.

Past Know Your LGBT History postings:

Know Your LGBT History - The Women

Know your LGBT History - Soul Plane

Know Your LGBT History - The Player's Club

Special Know Your LGBT History - Fame

Know Your LGBT History - Welcome Home, Bobby

Know Your LGBT History - Barney Miller

Know your lgbt history - The Jerry Springer Show

Know your lgbt history - Martin Lawrence and that 'gay guy' on his show

Know your lgbt history - The Ricki Lake Show

Know your lgbt history - Which Way Is Up

Know your lgbt history - Gays in Primetime Soaps

Know your lgbt history - Boys Beware

Know your lgbt history - The Boondocks

Know your lgbt history - Mannequin

Know your lgbt history - The Warriors

Know Your LGBT History - New York Undercover

Know Your LGBT History - Low Down Dirty Shame

Know Your LGBT History - Fortune and Men's Eyes

Know your lgbt history - California Suite

Know your lgbt history - Taxi (Elaine's Strange Triangle)

Know your lgbt history - Come Back Charleston Blue

Know your lgbt history - James Bond goes gay

Know your lgbt history - Windows

Know your lgbt history - To Wong Foo and Priscilla

Know your lgbt history - Blazing Saddles

Know your lgbt history - Sanford and Son

Know your lgbt history - In Living Color

Know your lgbt history - Cleopatra Jones and her lesbian drug lords

Know your lgbt history - Norman, Is That You?

Know your lgbt history - The 'Exotic' Adrian Street

Know your lgbt history - The Choirboys

Know your lgbt history - Eddie Murphy

Know your lgbt history - The Killing of Sister George

Know your lgbt history - Hanna-Barbera cartoons pushes the 'gay agenda

'Know your lgbt history - Cruising

Know your lgbt history - Foxy Brown and Cleopatra Jones

Know your lgbt history - I Got Da Hook Up

Know your lgbt history - Fright Night

Know your lgbt history - Flowers of Evil

The Jeffersons and the transgender community    

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Mary O'Grady said...

Paul Winfield?

BlackTsunami said...

And we have a winner ;p email me at

Lightning Baltimore said...

I loved Paris Is Burning!

Bill S said...

Aw, shoot. I'd have had that one, too, if I'd seen this post in time.
Oh well. Congrats, Mary.