The visual component of the video ‘Safe Space’ is pieced together from numerous YouTube clips of ballroom events from the early nineties—at a time the AIDS epidemic was surging in New York City. Originally a community created by trans and queer people of color in response to a society that marginalized their presence, the ballroom scene provides a safe space for performers to act out various ways of gender expressions.
For decades, the ballroom community has influenced pop culture, and it’s vocabulary has seeped into common parlance. ‘Safe Space’ is narrated by AI generated voices reciting a number of experiences and statements of LGBTQ+ refugees that have been sourced from the internet. The confluence of image and sound seek to depict both the harsh plight of a minority within a minority and the creative resilience and sense of community that emerges from these experiences. The ballroom community provides a strong support network built upon kinship and solidarity. It represents the concept of a chosen family, as many were rejected by their biological families for their sexual orientation or gender identity. At a time when the rights of queer people of color are increasingly at risk, the history and legacy of ballroom culture is more important than ever.