May 24, 2011

Paris Is (Still) Burning: 20 Years After The Iconic Documentary

An excerpt from Steven Thrasher's great article, and a photo from Kevin Amato's collection of 45 that accompany the article:

"But for some of New York City’s most marginalized LGBT youth, the Bronx Pride Center is one of the few places in the borough where anyone cares if they live or die.

The Mott Haven neighborhood where it is based has one of the highest rates of AIDS-related deaths in the city. It’s also in one of the poorest congressional districts in the United States. That lethal combination of poverty and disease makes the queer kids who call these streets home particularly vulnerable.

It is here where the underground ballroom drag scene, observed by much of the world for the first time in Jennie Livingston’s 1990 Paris Is Burning, still sizzles. On any given weekday, you can find queer kids hanging out on the center’s second floor practicing duck walks, hand performance, spins, and dips. Faced with the task of simply staying alive, they catwalk. Just feet above the streets where they could have the shit beaten out of them for acting so flamboyantly, they vogue to their spirits’ content, arms flying freely."

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