FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Hetrick-Martin Institute Emery Awards Ball Celebrates Kiki Scene with Legendary Icons
The LGBTQ+ Youth Organization’s Annual Fundraiser Scores All 10s
NEW YORK, November 19, 2021 – For the first time in its 40-year history, Hetrick-Martin Institute (HMI) broke away from its annual Emery Awards traditional gala to produce an interactive event bringing current and former HMI staff, youth and alumni together with ballroom community members for a show-stopping experience. Pier Sixty at Chelsea Piers in New York City was converted into a fashion runway on Thursday night where everyone including guests participated in the LGBTQ+ youth organization’s largest annual fundraiser.
The event opened up with a high-energy performance by The Iconic House of Miyake Mugler, Season Two winners of HBO Max’s ‘Legendary’, before international icon, writer and producer, Gorgeous Jack Mizrahi Gucci and drag performer and comedy queen, Harmonica Sunbeam took the stage as hosts of the two-hour event.
Attending the event for the first time in his role as HMI Chief Executive Officer, Joe Pressley welcomed guests with special mention to his predecessor, Thomas Krever, who was also in attendance. Before making his remarks, Mr. Pressley reminded everyone that this year’s Emery Ball was being held during Trans Awareness Week, which raises visibility for transgender individuals—the same trans youth and community members who are or have been part of the HMI family over the years.
Mr. Pressley presented Emery Award honorees New York State Attorney General Letitia James, FX television series, ‘Pose’ lead actress, Dominique Jackson, and Kiki Community Founders Aisha Diori, Luna Luis Ortiz, Raul R. Rivera with plaques for their contributions to the LTBTQIA+ and BIPOC communities. Arbert Santana, another founding member of the Kiki community, also received posthumous recognition during the ceremony.
Event architect and former HMI youth member, Jonovia Chase worked with Chief Development Officer, Amy Harclerode and her team to produce a non-stop show of entertainment which included a Ballroom Showcase where four houses— The Imperial Dynasty House of Hua Mulan, The Iconic House of Juicy Couture, The Royal House of Old Navy, and The Luxurious Fashion House of Louboutin—battled it out in a voguing competition across four categories throughout the evening. TV personality, author and runway coach, Miss J Alexander, served as a special guest judge for the evening.
HMI’s Board of Directors split into teams to support the four houses by selling tickets for their respective houses. Attendees were prompted to select a house to support upon their ticket purchase. Upon entering the venue, they were given colored boas representing the different houses they would cheer on during the Ballroom Showcase making for a true interactive experience. The House of Louboutin, grossing the highest dollar ticket sales, was awarded a cash prize to continue their important work. The other three houses were also awarded smaller cash prizes to take home as well.
Legends in their own right, Lina Bradford and Byrell the Great, were spinning the music to enhance the setting as guests DJs for the VIP and main events, respectively. Throughout the night, guests were able to visit a unique photo exhibit— A Portrait of Kiki—by celebrity and fashion photographer Roger Moenks and curated by Jonovia Chase and HMI Board Member Shelly Brown. The beautifully presented photos on display in a gallery-esque section of the venue were available for sale at the event and can still be purchased online at the event website. The exhibit was presented by The Mackay Dixon Team at Douglas Elliman and Citizens Bank, and featured extraordinary portraits of some of the most important ballroom icons that have shaped the community. An interactive and immersive virtual experience of this exhibition was produced by Yahoo.
The event ended on a high note for HMI, which came very close to meeting its fundraising goal, and was lauded by guests, honorees, entertainers, and sponsors for producing one of the most entertaining and inclusive experiences to date. View photos by Andrew Werner.
Photos: Andrew Werner
Hetrick-Martin Institute (HMI) is the nation’s oldest and largest organization helping gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth between the ages of 13 and 24 reach their full potential. Through a comprehensive package of direct services and referrals, the organization fosters healthy youth development. HMI’s staff promotes excellence in the delivery of youth services and uses its expertise to create innovative programs that other organizations may use as models.
HMI serves a diverse community, the vast majority of whom identify as Black or people of color. The youth organization is dedicated to building its approach to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) at all levels, throughout its operations and functions.