Aisha Diori served as Assistant Director of Health and Wellness After-School Programming at HMI from 2008-2014. Prior to joining HMI, Aisha served as Community Health Specialist Director at the Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC) from 1998-2008, where she performed outreach work and hosted HIV prevention balls to curtail the number of newly HIV infected youth.
During that time, she began walking balls which eventually led to a shift in interests from being a participant to serving as a community organizer and intervention specialist in the ballroom scene. She connected with fellow Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) classmate, Legendary Big Boy Runway Ricky Revlon, who eventually became her gay father, along with Arbert Santana, an LGBT and HIV awareness activist, who later became her house mother. They both helped usher Aisha into the House of Latex, forever changing her commitment to the LGBTQ+ community.
Later, Aisha received the title of “house-mother” from The House of Latex because of her commitment to ballroom culture—a title she held for nearly five years. In late 2007, Aisha opened the House of Iman, pairing safer sex and prevention messages that specifically targeted the Women, Butch and Transgender (WBT) ballroom scene. She infused progressive safer sex and educational messaging with pageantry. The House of Iman, a name that pays homage to Aisha’s Nigerian heritage, continues to be a source of leadership in the WBT community. Aisha was born in Nigeria, West Africa.
Acknowledging that youth were not best served in the mainstream ballroom scene, Aisha and Arbert Santana created the Kiki scene, a ballroom-infused HIV prevention intervention and movement focusing on LGBTQ+ youth ages 12 to 24, where the young people vogue, hang out with friends and get connected to HIV testing, counseling and healthcare services.
Upon leaving HMI in 2008, Aisha joined the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem as Special Events Manager, and continues her involvement with LGBTQ+ people in the House ball community. Four years later, she joined the MINA TV AFRICA in NYC as host for their Award Winning ABS Show covering trending news in Africa and the world.
Aisha also adds an entertainment spin to her existing experience in events. She is a comedian and event MC for many events within the Black Diaspora such as Miss Nigeria USA pageant, Nigeria Ent Awards, African Diaspora Awards, Afropolitan NYC, Africa Restaurant Week, Schomburg Center Comic Book Festival Cosplay, BAM Black Comix Festival, MASCARA Trans Day Of Remembrance Conference, First Fridays at the Schomburg, One Africa Music Week NYC, Afro beats To The World at PlayStation Theater 2019, and NYC Black Pride NYC .
She has also created a fun comedic character named “Ms. Ayodele”, who is a no holds barred sassy Nigerian Mother/Aunty who gives unsolicited advice on YouTube. You can also catch her on The Abs Show on Mina TV Africa where she and her co-hosts bring you up to speed on popular culture topics in Africa.
Aisha fostered the creation of a social conscious collective of creatives to create a Charity called Africa Everything. It promotes an Annual Afro beats Diaspora event fundraiser, a collective formed to promote and empower the Black African Diaspora with music, culture, and unique event experiences. Funds raised are invested in helping foster educational programs and initiatives all over West Africa.
She holds a Bachelor of Arts in advertising and marketing communications from Fashion Institute of Technology where she graduated magna cum laude. Her HIV prevention work with LGBTQ+ youth in Ball culture, an LGBT subculture, has been influential in the field of public health. She is a co-founder of the KiKi Ballroom scene and has been has been named “Iconic Mother” in ballroom culture. She is considered an expert in engaging this historically difficult-to-reach population, and her expertise is requested for grants and program development, and research and curriculum development.
This past November, Aisha was recognized by Hetrick-Martin Institute with an Emery Award for her commitment and contributions to the LGBTQIA+ community over the years.
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