Paris Is Burning Essay

1017 Words 5 Pages
In an era when being confidently gay and black had violent consequences, it was important that at-risk individuals had a place to be comfortable and expressive. Paris Is Burning, directed by Jennifer Livingston, shed a necessary light on the subculture of the house system and the ball circuit in 1980’s New York City. Because of the socioeconomic and political culture surrounding the Reagan Administration, there was high demand for asylum for LGBT individuals, thus creating the house system. This house system provided guidance, protection, and opportunity in a society that oppressed and shunned minority gay and transgendered men, allowing them to develop their art and their culture.
President Reagan often found himself in the spotlight of the gay agenda and felt too separated from the issue to address their concerns, making the gay community feel marginalized in their own country. When the HIV/AIDS crisis struck the United States in the 80’s, the first family barely spoke on the matter and provided no medical research funding, when thousands upon thousands were dying, and not just in the gay community. He didn’t dare to say the word “AIDS”, out of discomfort
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The house system allowed these young men and women to create or recreate themselves in an environment with mothers, fathers, brothers, and sisters who were all able to relate and support each other in a society that systematically oppressed them. With the federal government neglecting their causes, the gay community developed a self-functioning and self-motivating familial system to provide each other with what the outside world denied them. The house ball culture as it was in the 80’s and as it exists today, moves the gay community to a place where masculinity, kinship, and success are all innovative in

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