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Photograph by:
Gerard H. Gaskin, Trinidadian American, born 1965  Search this
H x W: 11319 pixels × 7634 pixels
digital images
digital media - born digital
Place captured:
Manhattan, New York City, New York, United States, North and Central America
October 2010
"The balls are a celebration of black and Latino urban gay life. They were born in Harlem out of a need for black and Latino gays to have a safe space to express themselves. Balls are constructed like beauty and talent pageants. The participants work to redefine and critique gender and sexual identity through an extravagant fashion masquerade. Women and men become fluid, interchangeable points of departure and reference, disrupting the notion of a fixed and rigid gender and sexual self. My images try to show a more personal and intimate beauty, pride, dignity, courage, and grace that have been painfully challenged by mainstream society. All of this happens at night in small halls in cities all over the country. These photographs, taken in New York, Philadelphia, Richmond, and Washington, D.C., show us different views of these spaces as they are reflected in the eyes of house and ball members who perform what they wish these cities could be." – Gerard H. Gaskin
Tez (left) prepares to walk the category “Butch Queen Tall Boys Bizarre,” wearing an outfit made by his twin brother Marquise (right), at a House of Evisu ball in 2010.
A color digital image portrait of Tez, with brother Marquise in the background, captured at the Evisu Ball in Manhattan in 2010 before walking the "Butch Queen Bizarre" category. Tez's face, neck and chest are painted blue and his bright blue eyes look directly at the camera. He wears an elaborate bright blue and white wig and a gown of clear plastic fashioned with an exaggerated high-stand collar and ruffle sleeves. The edges are tinged gold and gold and magenta buttons cover the chest and waist. Marquise is out of focus and stands in the background right of the frame, dressed in black and looking down.
African American  Search this
Communities  Search this
Dance  Search this
Fashion  Search this
Gender  Search this
Identity  Search this
LGBTQ  Search this
Music  Search this
Nightlife  Search this
Photography  Search this
Sexuality  Search this
Urban life  Search this
Credit Line:
Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Gift of Gerard H. Gaskin
Object number:
Restrictions & Rights:
© Gerard H. Gaskin
See more items in:
National Museum of African American History and Culture Collection
Media Arts-Photography
Data Source:
National Museum of African American History and Culture