Compiled by Special Correspondent Thea Lim, with Guest Contributors Robin Akimbo, Alaska B, Michelle Cho and Elisha Lim
For a show that’s had us raising our eyebrows over their representations of race, gender and sexuality for over a year, Season 4 of America’s Best Dance Crew (ABDC) kicked things up a notch by showcasing Vogue Evolution, an openly gay crew featuring a trans woman – on mainstream TV nonetheless. Yet representations on ABDC are often fraught with racism, homophobia and transphobia. And then Vogue Evolution (VE) got kicked off ABDC on Week 5, after judge Lil’ Mama attacked VE’s anchor (vogueing god and trans woman Leoimy Maldonado) for not being enough of a “lady” on Week 4 saying:
Leiomy, come on. Your behavior… it’s unacceptable…I just feel that you always have to remember your truth. You were born a man and you are becoming a woman. If you’re going to become a woman, act like a lady. Don’t be a bird, like ‘Oh my god, I’m not doing this!’ You know what I’m saying? It gets too crazy and it gets confusing. You’re doing this for America. Even though you’re the face for transgenders, you’re the face of America right now with this group and it’s not about anybody else. It’s about y’all. You know what I’m saying? So do it for the team. Do it for the team.
So I decided to get some of my queer community of colour together to figure out why ABDC works — and why it fails.
So why do you think Vogue Evolution decided to go on ABDC – considering how queer and trans folks are treated on TV?
Elisha: Leiomy from Vogue Evolution said three times that for her it wasn’t about winning, but about breaking barriers. So I went to check out their bio on MTV and here’s what they said:
This year, on the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, a new wave of revolutionaries is born. The historic House/ Ballroom scene, which dates back to the Harlem Renaissance in the 1920s, has been on the cutting edge of pop culture since its commencement. Its ever present influence has been observed in American fashion, culture, and entertainment, yet mainstream audiences have yet to accredit the origins of this influence.