Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Mid Week Break Out

For many, the only reference of the House/Ball community comes from the movie, “Paris Is Burning;” which showed a world chiefly occupied by a melee of artistically talented misfits and criminals. This film will screen September 11 in Little Rock as apart of the Brotha's & Sista's Building Community film series at the Women's Project 2224 Main Street. Afterwards a discussion and open forum will take place. This article offers a closer look at that system and it's new focus. Since the movies release, members of the “House/Ball” sub-culture have often been viewed as outcasts of the larger lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community and are even stigmatized among Black and Latino LGBTs. But there have been some changes to the world captured in Jenny Livingston’s revealing film. Chief among those changes is the efforts made by The House of Manolo Blahnik. This house chose to make a difference in the lives of others by awarding the “FIRST EVER” scholarship to students attending Historically Black Colleges and Universities, both of whom are members of Houses.
The House of Manolo Blahnik, like those featured in Paris is Burning, values all of the social contributions made by this marginalized population; but, The House of Manolo Blahnik is also a real non-profit organization under the fiscal management of the New York State Black Gay Network. The House of Manolo Blahnik established its’ Tony Milan Scholarship Fund in 2006, to support the educational and “ballroom” success of LGBT members of the House/Ball community. The Tony Milan Scholarship Fund encourages LGBT community members to aspire to positions in which they are able to contribute to society, are open about their sexual orientation and act as role models for their peers in the Ballroom scene. This year’s inaugural recipient of the Tony Milan Scholarship is Ajmar Millar known by his House/Ball friends as “Ajay Balenciaga”. Similar to Tony Milan, after whom the scholarship is named, Ajay is pursuing his undergraduate education at Morehouse College, in Atlanta (GA) where he is a graduating senior and is an active member of Atlanta’s Ballroom community. “Ajay truly exemplifies our community’s new leaders,” states Damon Humes (co-founder, House Father and Executive Director of the House of Manolo Blahnik).
In addition to the Tony Milan Scholar, the House of MB chose to grant a second award to Jimmy Vincent, known by his House/Ball friends as Boi Boi St. Clair to help with books and supplies. Boi Boi St. Clair is a student at North Carolina Central University. “Both young men were chosen based on their academic performance, their ballroom community participation and their positive contributions to our community. They most certainly represent the legacy of Tony Milan and the Undeniable House of Manolo Blahnik. Please join me in congratulating both of these amazing men for their hard work and achievement!” exalts Humes.

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