by Ricky Tucker
A love letter to the legendary Black and Latinx LGBTQ underground subculture, uncovering its abundant legacy and influence in popular culture.
What is Ballroom? Not a song, a documentary, a catchphrase, a TV show, or an individual pop star. It is an underground subculture founded over a century ago by LGBTQ African American and Latino men and women of Harlem. Arts-based and intersectional, it transcends identity, acting as a fearless response to the systemic marginalization of minority populations.
Ricky Tucker pulls from his years as a close friend of the community to reveal the complex cultural makeup and ongoing relevance of house and Ballroom, a space where trans lives are respected and applauded, and queer youth are able to find family and acceptance. With each chapter framed as a "category" (Vogue, Realness, Body, et al.), And the Category Is... offers an impressionistic point of entry into this subculture, its deeply integrated history, and how it's been appropriated for mainstream audiences. Each category features an exclusive interview with fierce LGBTQ/POC Ballroom members -- Lee Soulja, Benjamin Ninja, Twiggy Pucci Garçon, and more -- whose lives, work, and activism drive home that very category.
At the height of public intrigue and awareness about Ballroom, thanks to TV shows like FX's Pose, Tucker's compelling narratives help us understand its relevance in pop culture, dance, public policy with regard to queer communities, and so much more. Welcome to the norm-defying realness of Ballroom.
"Ricky Tucker has crafted a masterpiece that reinforces the importance of ballroom." -- Bitch Media
"Ricky Tucker explores how Ballroom's language, fashion, and family structure have permeated pop culture for decades. He takes us beyond the watered-down, sanitized version we see in corporate ad campaigns and on TV shows to give us the history, the Black, queer, often marginalized origins of our culture... The definitive book on Ballroom's legacy." -- Bevy Smith, media personality and author of Bevelations: Lessons from a Mutha, Auntie, Bestie
"A treasure trove of insider perspective -- deeply respectful, full of critique and celebration, oral history and personal narrative. A little bit academic, a lot of wisdom, and glamour, yes, of course, and context. This work is, like Ballroom itself, a crucial piece of queer history and contemporary queer culture."
-- Michelle Tea, author of Against Memoir and Black Wave.
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