Since it’s Pride Month, I decided to look at a documentary that has been both influential and controversial in the LGBTQ+ community.
Paris is Burning
is a documentary about drag and ballroom culture in New York City in the late 1980s. Filming many ballroom performances and following the lives of these performers, director Jennie Livingston found success at the Sundance Film Festival and got picked up by Miramax.
While the answer is two sides of the same coin, both sides are worth talking about. One side is the introduction of drag-ball to a mainstream audience. Paris is Burning
helped shows like Pose
and Rupaul’s Drag Race
to make their way to television. RPDR even pays homage to the film by referencing it in the beloved “reading” challenge. On the other hand, it serves as an example of a White director receiving success from their film while the vulnerable groups that were portrayed (trans-feminine, QTPOC, and more) ended up unfairly compensated, sometimes ending their lives in poverty or worse, murdered. While the film did some good, it also did some bad.