Last year, my beautiful son came out. I watched how the world struggled to honor him in his Blackness and queerness. I watched as he tried to make sense of himself, to love himself, in the face of constant vitriol that tells Black, brown, queer and trans kids that they are other, that they do not belong anywhere.
But Ballroom told my son otherwise.
Through family, friends, community and, yes, YouTube, he discovered a space that made him feel loved, accepted and safe. And that’s what Ballroom is: a cultural space created by LGBTQ+ Black and Latino communities to defiantly and unapologetically express themselves.
To honor the legacy of Ballroom, Google Arts & Culture is partnering with experts and icons from the Ballroom community and Destination Tomorrow to launch a new hub, Ballroom in Focus, which celebrates Ballroom culture’s history and heritage. With nearly 2,000 images, including 1,000 that have been digitized for the first time, and more than 25 stories from the pioneers themselves, the new Ballroom in Focus hub honors the leaders of this deeply impactful LGBTQ+ community who have helped turn Ballroom into the cultural powerhouse it is today. A selection of images were also edited with AI-powered tools like Photo Unblur and Magic Eraser to enhance the archive; features available on Google Pixel in Google Photos.
It is important that the LGBTQ+ community has access to safe spaces where they can build connections, many of which are online. Starting June 1, here are some ways Google products are celebrating the many identities of the LGBTQ+ community and, hopefully, making our products more welcoming to all: