Film, Paris, Burning, And The Subculture Of Black And Latina / Os

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The 1990s documentary film, Paris is Burning, was significant because it was one of the first major productions that brought national visibility to the LGBTQ community and the subculture of black and Latina/os who participated in ballroom performances. This seemingly new phenomenon incorporated dissing or “throwing shade,” referred to as voguing, in New York City during the 1980s, and mainly consisted of poor, people of color. These performative shows attempted to challenge and imitate dominant, white heteronormativity by role playing socially powerful categories like business executives and students, that poor, gay people of color are often denied opportunistic access to. Intersections of class highlight the devastating and somber effects …show more content…

These physical expressions through “processes of non-traditional literacy production, gender/race/sexuality articulation,” is presented in ways that outside of these spaces, would be “definitionally obscene,” much like the harassment and violence that transgender and gay individuals, along with drag queens, often encountered in 1980s hegemonic spaces (Gregory 28). “The irony is that the very real experience of difference, the heightened awareness that it brings, should help to create a disguise so immaculate that nothing remains but the in-joke of one 's private knowledge,” proving that successful gender performances are not innate nor natural, arguments that 1980s heteronormativity argued to justify oppressive power hierarchies (Hentzi 36). These performances exposed the truth of outside society’s discomfort and defensiveness of their beloved and seemingly meaningful gender, race, sexual, and class boundaries. This is because “if men can be women, blacks can be white, the poor can be rich, and gays or lesbians can be straight (and vice versa in each of these examples), then the necessity and inevitability of these boundaries become suspect,” and these boundaries can indeed be crossed and ceased (Schacht 148). 1980s balls ultimately could prove that “hierarchical borders that previously demarcated superiority and subordination would lose their omnipotent meaning” and these

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