The themes explored in Paris Is Burning, which intersect at the crossroads of gender, sexuality, and race performativity within the underground NYC ball scene, were contextualized under the Reagan administration and the AIDS crisis in the 1980's. But now in the Trump era, with federal support seeming more and more out of reach with each passing day, these issues feel increasingly relevant. "It's important for me not just as an openly gay man, but also as an immigrant whose second language is English, that we have candidates who represent these marginalized groups," says Garcia. "The fact that someone like me can run for city council in 2017—especially in The Bronx, which is the most 'macho' district—can be credited to these people that came before me."
Javier Ninja, who literally grew up with these notable figures from NYC voguing "houses" and is currently the father of the Legendary House of Ninja, feels adamantly that electing officials who put minority issues at the forefront of their campaign is key. "To have people here in the United States put their foot forward and say, 'Yeah I'm gay, I'm political, and I'm going to do whatever I can to save my community and make a change' is really important." Pro-LGBT politics during the 80's and 90's faced a much harsher push back, and the issue of LGBT youth homelessness was aided in large part by these underground houses. "In Paris Is Burning and in the vogue community, what ended up happening was that these houses became these kids' mothers and fathers," says Javier. "It wasn't a second family, but a first family, because their first family disowned them."
Elvin Garcia says that although he doesn't have any voguing skills, he does come from the "House of Civic Engagement," and he plans to enact policy changes having to do with LGBT rights if he is elected. "Houses were the non-profit social service organizations before they even existed...that's what the houses were for: getting kids off the street," he says. "Here I am now running for office, wanting to expand these programs so that we reduce LGBT youth homelessness. It really sort of came full circle at the Strike A Pose event. It was a special night."
Election day for NYC District 18 is Tuesday, September 12, and our choice for city council is Elvin Garcia.