We are in our final week of honoring Queer LatinX culture and history and it seems fitting to go out with the infamous Walter Mercado. The icon was an astrologer and T.V. spiritual advisor who held daily shows to over 120 million viewers at the height of his career. His charisma and charm captivated his followers while his androgynous identity baffled his critics. In a culture overrun with Catholicism and gender roles, Walter Mercado became a beacon of hope for many LatinX viewers who were also gender non-conforming. His defiance of the norms broke the barrier of sexuality and even at age 87 he couldn’t suppress a grin when folks questioned whether he still held onto his V-card. So let us dive into the mystical world that is Walter Mercado or – Walter of the Miracles.
We return with part two of What a Drag; A History of Ballroom Culture & Modern Drag. We left off at the end of the 1950’s just as a new era was dawning in the queer community. The Lavender Scare was finally starting to fade as America’s understanding around sexual orientation was VERY slowly evolving. Organizations such as The Mattachine Society and the Daughters of Bilitis had stepped away from being secret societies to standing up as open gay and lesbian organizations. The public transition of former war vet Christine Jorgenson had swept the country igniting a long debate around gender identity and gay rights. And on top of these events, the racial tensions of the era and daily feminist uprisings were preparing to explode into the revolution of the 1960s. As if waiting for an introduction, a small protest sparked the first fires of change.
“Strangest and gaudiest of all Harlem spectacles in the ’20s, and still the strangest and gaudiest, is the annual Hamilton Club Lodge Ball at Rockland Palace Casino. I once attended as a guest of A’Lelia Walker. It is the ball where men dress as women and women dress as men… it was fashionable for the intelligentsia and social leaders of both Harlem and the downtown area to occupy boxes at this ball and look down from above at the queerly assorted throng on the dancing floor, males in flowing gowns and feathered headdresses and females in tuxedoes and box-back suits.”
#BlackLivesMatter was founded in 2013 in response to the acquittal of Trayvon Martin’s murderer. Black Lives Matter Foundation, Inc is a global organization in the US, UK, and Canada, whose mission is to eradicate white supremacy and build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes. By combating and countering acts of violence, creating space for Black imagination and innovation, and centering Black joy, Black Lives Matter is winning immediate improvements in the lives of people of color.
Today we are headed to China to cover one of the most inspiring transgender activists of our time. An individual who is defying gender binaries in a country that has done very little in the way of LGB rights, and even less for trans and gender non-conforming folks. Despite this, activist and business owner Chao (Chow) Xiaomi (Shou-me) is not one to be deterred. Though she identifies as gender fluid, she uses feminine pronouns and has a feminine expression. And though she has lived openly for the last 15 years, it is only recently that her work has drawn any attention. To understand Chao’s (Chow) predicament, we must understand the climate between China and its LBGTQ citizens.
Today we address a feminist icon, civil rights legend, and queer revolutionary, Barbara Smith, one of the longest and most committed activists to freedom and justice for all people. She’s 73 years old today but age has hardly slowed her down. As she is still actively sought after by people from all walks of life. Smith’s 50 plus years of social justice advocacy makes her one of the most knowledgable and qualified civil rights leaders in the world. An incredible feat for anyone, but especially a black lesbian born in the middle of the Jim Crow era. How did she manage to become the fierce leader she is today? Well, let’s start back at the beginning.
Billy Porter has come to redefine the industry and shatter every boundary and binary in his way. Though he’s been in the industry for over 30 years it’s only in the last few that this incredible star had been getting the recognition he deserves. A conscious choice made when Porter chose his authenticity over fame; a decision few would have had the tenacity to follow through on. But today his hard work, dedication, and unwavering moral stance have earned him the role of a lifetime. Starring as the enigmatic Pray Tell on the hit TV show Pose, Porter serves us Ballroom Culture realness as he emcee’s the nightly challenges. But before we get to that, let’s start back at Billy’s childhood. *And before we start. We do want to add a trigger warning as we will be discussing sexual abuse and trauma*.
February 17th-23rd is Aromantic Spectrum Awareness Week. And we want to make sure and recognize all of our Aro’s out there. And if you are Black and identify as Aromantic or Asexual, then we hope you are really enjoying this week during Black History Month. Celebrating both your history and your orientation recognizes the beautiful makeup of a person’s identity. So in today’s minisode, we want to discuss what it means to be Aromantic and how we can be an ally to the ACEs and ARO’s in our community.
Join us as Vima from the Down No Particular Road Podcast discusses how we as a community can be better allies to queer POC.