The ballroom scene has always been a political space. Itself birthed from the rejection of Black and brown queer and trans people from other parts of society, it has long been a space for organizing — namely against the HIV/AIDS epidemic, but for a variety of causes. Now, in partnership with Unilever USA, the scene is keeping in line with that history, with a campaign to get people to vote.
Over the next few weeks ballroom houses, drag stars, and more will post public service announcements on social media, attend and promote a series of virtual balls, and otherwise encourage people to first register and then get out to vote in a larger campaign titled I'm the Vote. Four of ballroom’s houses (the House of Miyake-Mugler, the Gorgeous House of Gucci, the House of Balenciaga, and the House of Comme des Garcon) will all be volunteering at polling stations, while other ballroom leaders help to ensure possible voters have their proper voter ID. Given that queer and trans folks are more likely to face voter ID issues given that their government identification may not reflect their lived expression, Unilever is covering the cost of 1,000 IDs for those who fall into thei group. Angelica Ross, Amiyah Scott, Trace Lysette, and Mariah Paris Balenciaga, as well as the heads of the four mentioned houses will all appear at a series of four balls over Zoom that are being broadcast live on Jack Gucci's Facebook account, in an effort to spread the word.
“There’s never been a more important time to ensure all voices are heard, including the voices of the LGBTQ+ community,” said Mita Mallick, head of diversity and inclusion for Unilever North America. “With more than 20 percent of LGBTQ+ adults not registered to vote, Unilever is supporting nonpartisan organizations that are providing registration and voting information to help ensure everyone within our communities are able to vote safely and fairly. We are excited to work with the creativity and vibrancy of the House Ballroom Community to voice why queer votes matter as part of the I’m The Vote campaign.”
The plan hopes to focus on cities that experience voter suppression like Atlanta, Philadelphia, Charlotte, and Miami, but is also about getting queer and trans communities out to vote overall. A veritable who’s who of queer performers like Sasha Velour, Peppermint, Detox, Heidi N’ Closet, Dominique Jackson, Theo Germaine, La’Darius Marshall will all be amplifying the messages, ensuring that it is heard nationally. After October 5, the campaign will move into a second phase, centered around getting people out to vote. Sinia Alaia, an icon in the ballroom scene, as well as a performer who has appeared in both Pose as well as a Coach campaign, will lead a series of PSAs explaining "why your vote matters."
This isn't the first time the ballroom scene has targeted its own for a voting campaign. Jack Gucci, Sinia Alaia, and Caesar Will all worked together in a project called Vote or Gag previously. This project is led by Sean Ebony, Jack Gucci, and Sinia Alaia from ballroom as well as RanaVerse and Marti Gould Cummings.