“Red Ball: Red Revolution” Annual Ballroom Competition Honors World AIDS Day

Health Department’s sixth annual RED Ball, co-hosted by the Kiki Coalition, celebrated LGBTQ revolutionaries with live performances, elaborate fashion show, and runway action

During the event, the Health Department provided free NYC Condoms, lubricant packs, and HIV and STI testing

A man dressed in all red dancing on the RED Revolution runway.

December 6, 2019 — The Health Department, together with the Kiki Coalition, yesterday hosted the sixth annual RED Ball: RED Revolution, a fashion show and runway competition inspired by the Kiki Ball scene. This year’s theme, RED Revolution, celebrated revolutionaries of the LGBTQ community who fought for civil rights and liberation, and who inspire today’s activists to bring forth a new revolution to end the HIV epidemic in New York City. In addition to the runway action, community partners hosted a health fair, during which the Health Department provided free NYC Condoms and lubricant packs, and community partners offered HIV and STI testing.

“This year our RED Ball: RED Revolution recognized LGBTQ heroes who paved the way and provided our youth with a safe space to celebrate their culture and unapologetically be themselves,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot. “Thank you to the Kiki Coalition for their unwavering support and helping us to once again host a successful event.”

The Health Department is thrilled to have partnered with the Kiki Coalition to host our annual RED Ball, one of our most exciting events of the year,” said Dr. Oni Blackstock, Assistant Commissioner for the Health Department’s Bureau of HIV. “I am especially inspired by this year’s theme – RED Revolution – which pays homage to the LGBTQ revolutionaries that came before us. As we continue our work to end the HIV epidemic, we must never forget the battles our LGBTQ forebearers fought to allow us to freely and proudly be our authentic selves.”

The Kiki Ball scene is a youth-led subset of the larger mainstream House and Ball scene where people of all ages come together and express their creativity through dance, fashion, and music. At the RED Ball, individual and house competitors battled it out on the runway in over 10 categories, including Male Figure Face Switch: RuPaul’s VIVA GLAM MAC AIDS Campaign; Gender Non-Conforming Best Dressed: In Honor of Marsha P. Johnson; Ending Stigma: Hear No Evil, See No Evil, Speak No Evil; Female Figure Realness: Angelica Ross; and Bizarre: Hector Xtravaganza: The Standing Skirt, a category dedicated to the late Hector Xtravaganza, House Grandfather for the House of Xtravaganza and legend in the House and Ball scene.

“It has been a pleasure to work with the New York City Health Department to plan the sixth annual RED Ball, which has now become a staple event in the House and Ball scenes,” said Legendary NYC Mother J’Lin Lanvin. “The RED Ball has become not only an outlet for LGBTQ youth in the House and Ball scenes to express themselves and their creativity, but also a vessel to connect youth to social and communal opportunities, as well as to health and social support services.”

The RED Ball: RED Revolution closed a week of events and milestones to commemorate and celebrate World AIDS Day:

  • The World AIDS Day 2019 citywide event on Monday was hosted by the End AIDS NY 2020 Coalition—a group of over 60 community partners from across New York State—in conjunction with the New York State Department of Health and New York City Health Department. The theme, CommUNITY, highlighted the importance of meaningful community input in developing and implementing plans to end the epidemic. The event featured a live performance by House of Juicy; remarks by government officials; moderated conversations with community members; and an in-memoriam video to honor people lost to the epidemic. The Health Department presented six community partners with 2019 World AIDS Day Awards to acknowledge their significant contributions towards ending the local HIV epidemic.
  • The City recently announced that it is the first Fast-Track City in the U.S. to reach the UNAIDS 90-90-90 goals two years ahead of schedule, meaning that 90% of all people with HIV know their status, 90% of all people diagnosed with HIV are on treatment, and 90% of all people diagnosed with HIV who are on treatment are virally suppressed. As of 2018 in New York City, 93% of people with HIV have been diagnosed, 90% of people diagnosed with HIV are on treatment, and 92% of people on treatment are virally suppressed. New York City is part of the Fast-Track Cities initiative, a global partnership between cities and municipalities around the world working to achieve the UNAIDS 90-90-90 targets.
  • On November 22, the Health Department released its 2018 HIV Surveillance Annual Report (PDF), which showed new HIV diagnoses at historic lows in New York City. The number of people newly diagnosed with HIV fell below 2,000 for the first time since annual HIV reporting began in 2001. According to the report, 1,917 people were newly diagnosed with HIV in New York City in 2018, down 11% from the 2,157 new diagnoses reported in 2017, and down 67% from 2001. The estimated annual number of new HIV infections in New York City, a key Ending the Epidemic metric, continues to decline, down 16% from 2017 and 41% from 2014. In 2015, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the NYC Ending the Epidemic Plan, a $23 million annual investment to increase access to HIV prevention services, promote optimal treatment for HIV; enhance methods for tracing HIV transmission; and advance sexual health equity for all New Yorkers by promoting comprehensive, affirming sexual health care and supporting community-driven initiatives focused on people disproportionately affected by HIV. Driving this work is a commitment to racial equity and social justice to dismantle the underlying racism and identity-based stigmas that drive HIV-related health inequities.

“As we mark the 50th anniversary of Stonewall this year, it’s important to pay tribute to the LGBTQ revolutionaries and AIDS activists who were instrumental in the fight for our rights,” said Senator Brad Hoylman. “The Health Department and the Kiki Coalition’s annual RED Ball is a fabulous occasion to honor those who came before us and as New York’s only openly gay Senator, I look forward to working on further efforts to protect the LGBTQ community in the coming weeks and months.”

“World AIDS Day and events like this help break the silence and halt the deadly trajectory of the AIDS epidemic,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “I thank the Health Department and its community partners for organizing this day of action and look forward to the day when AIDS is eradicated for once and for all.”

“I am proud to be a member of the planning committee for the sixth annual World AIDS Day citywide event, co-hosted by the End AIDS NY 2020 Coalition,” said Krishna Stone, Director of Community Relations at Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC). “Each year, it is a pleasure to help organize this event with colleagues from diverse organizations, consisting of a dynamic program that features community leaders, people living with HIV/AIDS, government officials, clergy of faith institutions, and musical performers. This opportunity is a great way to foster community as we continue to do vital work throughout New York State.”

“New York City is filled with so many passionate advocates, dedicated service providers, and inspiring artists who live the spirit of World AIDS Day 365 days a year,” said Elizabeth Koke, Creative Director at Housing Works. “Still, it feels really important to come together with intention each December to honor our commitment to our communities and the lives of those living with HIV.”

2019 World AIDS Day Award recipients are as follows:

Deborah Levine currently serves as Marketing and Public Relations Specialist for the National Black Women’s HIV/AIDS Network, Inc. Prior to this, she served as Senior Managing Director of the Love Heals Center for Youth and Families at GMHC and as Executive Director of the Love Heals, The Alison Gertz Foundation for AIDS Education. Deborah is also Community Chair for the Health Department’s Manhattan Knows initiative and Chair of its Women’s Advisory Board. Deborah has over 30 years of experience delivering capacity-building and technical assistance to community-based organizations, houses of worship, and other stakeholders.

Johanne Morne currently serves as Director of the New York State Department of Health AIDS Institute, which oversees statewide efforts related to HIV, hepatitis, STIs, surveillance, opioid overdose prevention, and non-HIV LGBTQ services. Under her leadership, the New York State Department of Health signed on to the Undetectable = Untransmittable (U = U) Consensus Statement, making New York the first state to do so. Johanne currently serves as Chair of the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors (NASTAD) Board of Directors. Her professional and clinical experience is in public health and behavioral health, particularly within communities of color.

Octavia Y. Lewisis an activist, advocate, mother, and scholar. She currently serves as the Transgender Health Coordinator at Montefiore Medical Center. As a transgender woman of color living with HIV, she understands the intersectionality, nuances, and complexities of her identities, and how they correlate with the world around her. While at the Hetrick-Martin Institute, Octavia led all transgender-related programming and services for young people, instilling in them the skills needed to navigate systems, advocate for themselves, educate on what it means to be an ally, and lead by living one’s authentic life unapologetically.

Rebecca Green currently serves as Regional Director of HIV Programs at the Institute for Family Health, where she leads the COMPASS (Comprehensive Outpatient Medical Practice and Support Services) program, which provides comprehensive care to over 1,300 people living with or at risk for HIV annually. A native New Yorker, Becky has worked in the field of HIV/AIDS for 15 years, providing program leadership, care coordination, outreach, health education, psychotherapy, and case management. She strives to center a social justice and trauma-informed lens to the work she does. She has been recognized by the National Association of Social Workers as an Emerging Social Work Leader and by the Manhattan-Staten Island Area Health Education Center System as a Champion of Diversity.

Susanne Bartsch is New York City’s patron saint of transformation and inclusion. The parties she’s thrown for three decades – from Paris to Tokyo – have provided a venue for countless creative souls and “creatures” to express themselves, come together, and forget the humdrum of the everyday. In 1989, devastated by the many friends she lost to AIDS, Susanne created the Love Ball, an event that rallied the fashion community to raise awareness and raise funds that went directly to those affected by AIDS and hands-on organizations. The Love Ball and subsequent events over the last three decades have raised over $3 million.

Voces Latinas. Founded in 2003 as a volunteer run organization, Voces Latinas aims to reduce the rate of HIV transmission and violence among immigrant Latinas by empowering, educating, and providing leadership and advocacy training to enable them to make healthier decisions for themselves and their families. Through collaborative relationships, it connects immigrant Latinas with culturally and linguistically sensitive services to address their immediate needs, which allows them to identify with their risk for HIV. Accepting the award on behalf of Voces Latinas is Executive Director Nathaly Rubio-Torio.



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