Chantal Heijnen

Photographer & Educator
      
House of Xtravaganza
Location: New York
Nationality: Dutch
Biography: Chantal Heijnen (The Netherlands, 1976) is a documentary photographer and a devoted educator for the community programs at ICP & Lantern Community Services in NYC. She passes on her passion for Black & White Darkroom photography to... read on
Public Story
House of Xtravaganza
Credits: chantal heijnen
Date of Work: 03/09/19 - 11/13/19
Updated: 11/22/19
G Xtravaganza (35) gets ready for a ball at ‘House of Yes’ in Brooklyn and inspects the shoe collection below his impressive clothes rack full of self designed colorful dresses and jackets.

It's hard to imagine that G, who straightens his stockings on the couch beside the glitter dragon, wears JC Penney clothes when he visits his parents in Arizona. They are immigrants from Mexico who settled as farm workers in a small village with one traffic light. They raised five children. Gerardo Félix, G’s birth name, left as soon as he turned eighteen. “To be able to breathe”, he explains.

In New York he can be who he wants to be: G Xtravaganza, member of House of Xtravaganza, one of the legendary "houses" of the ballroom scene that has been a shelter for thousands of POC LGBTQI-ers. House of Xtravaganza started in 1982 as the first ballroom group for Latinos. The house has a hierarchy in which self-proclaimed parents and grandparents are in charge. “Bals are magical, almost addictive - after the first one you want to keep coming back ”, says G.

LGBTQI+ people of color often face many challenges and discrimination. It is hard to find an accepting and inclusive community. The ballroom scene has become a loving home to many.

By Chantal Heijnen —

Join us
for more access