A special reception was held at Hetrick-Martin Institute on Friday, April 1, 2022 for HMI Emeritus Board Members, marking their first in-person gathering since the pandemic. They were joined by HMI’s current board members, executive team, staff, youth and alumni for the launch of “A Portrait of Kiki” exhibit which will be traveling across the country this year.
The portrait showcase, which premiered at the 2021 Emery Awards Ball in November, features extraordinary portraits of some of the most important ballroom icons that have shaped the community. The portraits, shot by celebrity and fashion photographer Roger Moenks and curated by Jonovia Chase and HMI Board Member Shelly Brown, have received an overwhelming response within the local area. The traveling exhibit will enable HMI to bring more visibility to the ballroom community across the country, while raising funds so we can continue to provide support services to LGBTQIA+ youth, primarily of color.
Attendees had an opportunity to hear from members of the Kiki community, view the portrait showcase and tour the youth space on the 3rd floor led by the program team and youth peers as well as the 8th floor, currently under construction, where HMI’s offices are located.
The reception was a great success, but more importantly it took place at a critical time, when LGBTQIA+ youth have become increasingly vulnerable due to laws that attack and discriminate against them. The need for mental health services has grown substantially over the past two years. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in a recent report cited that 1 in 4 LGBTQ+ youth attempted suicide during the first half of 2021. The report also revealed that almost half (46.8%) of teenagers who identify as gay, lesbian or bisexual considered suicide during that time frame.