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Burning the Closet
 

Waiting for Justice and Effective HIV/AIDS Prevention Programs for the "Ball Community".
more
April 9th, 2006
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
contact:
Kevin Omni:  kevin.burrus1@verizon.net

Wolfgang Busch:  WolfgangBusch@earthlink.net or 718-726-0831

Waiting for Justice and Effective HIV/AIDS Prevention Programs for the "Ball Community."

        In NYC many AIDS Organizations have lost the connection of Effective HIV/AIDS Prevention Programs to educate the "Ball Community", a Black and Hispanic LGBT artistic community at Risk. The Ball Community was introduced to the public by Madonna's music video "Vogue", "Truth or Dare", "How do I Look" and "Paris is Burning".

    My name is Kevin Omni and I have been participating in the "Ball Community" for 29 years. I am the Founder of the House of Omni 26 years ago and I am highly decorated with "Ballroom" honors throughout the years. I am a "Ball" educator and activist and have the right to get my questions answered from these AIDS agencies. I represent (3) decades of the "Ball Community".  My status is ignored by those agencies and I am treated with hostility and disrespect when I speak on behalf of the "Ball Community" at large. Is there a hidden agenda and a reason why I shouldn't ask questions?

    AIDS Organizations, such as Gay Men's Health Crisis (GMHC), People of Color in Crisis (POCC), Gay Men of African Descent (GMAD) and Harlem United, for the past 13 years have given "Free Balls", an event that used to be produced by the "Ball Community" itself. And yet, there are other organizations that are yet to come such as "Faces NY". We have so many. All of these events "Free Balls" used to be produced from within the Ball Community, by "Ball Producers". And there was a time when some of these agencies would not have anything to do with the "Ball Community". I would invite them and we were not worthy of any consideration by them. But as the HIV/AIDS crisis became the epidemic and BIG business, we the "Ball Community" became favorable in the eyes of these Agencies, because we were now worthy of grants and producing jobs for these agencies. Since the invasion of these organizations, the "Ball" events have lost the profit margin for the community and the AIDS Organizations have taken over, cutting into the "Ball" economics, to the point, where we have less "Balls" produced every year by the community. AIDS Organizations in NYC wiped out the "Ball" economy in a record pace. The "Ball Community" can't compete with AIDS Organizations that use Grant money to produce these Very Expensive Special Events.

    After 13 years, GMHC, GMAD, Harlem United and POCC have not published or posted any positive results to the "Ball Community" in regards to how effective these events actually are, year after year. They continue to give inaccurate statements to grant giving organizations to stay in business and they continue to exploit and manipulate the economy of the "Ball Community", with the goal to keep them (AIDS Organizations) in business and the "Ball Community" in an Artistic Ghetto.

    Anyone can pass out condoms on the street corner and at an event.  We don't need (5) AIDS Organizations to do that, especially when they aren't as aggressive nor as efficient anymore. Because AIDS is BIG business now, they benefit more from sick people rather than effective outreach programs. It is a very sad reality for not only the "Ball Community" but for the LGBT community at large as well. It's no wonder that activist such as "Harvey Fierstein and Charles Busch" wonder why the infection rate is on the rise.

    Throughout the years, these agencies have spent at least one million dollars on giving "Free Balls" total, including the hiring of inexperienced employees, producing only very little results for the "Ball Community" to look at.  Surely, this money could be spent on different and more effective programs. You have people within the community still sick and suffering. You have "Ball Entertainers" whom are no longer with any income due to their sickness, that can't get any compensation for their lost income. If these "Free Balls" aren't generating any positive results, then why do they still continue to exist? How long will this continue? When will they be held accountable?

How does this affect Me?   

    It affects me, because I have lost over 400 of my closest friends to HIV/AIDS. And the statistics are still on the rise. The "Ball Community" continues to suffer from the many we loose to HIV and AIDS and the pain and anguish still exists. Our community at large needs to question these AIDS Organizations about the effectiveness of the existing programs that are currently in place. We need to question the leadership and in-experienced people they hire to do the job.

    Who is monitoring these agencies?  Who do they answer to?  Our questions and criticism haven't been answered nor addressed by those agencies, even thought it is my Community they invaded. They treat members from the community with disrespect; they single individuals out, practice racism and on top of that exploit our economy with "Free Balls?, that we, the community can't compete with. What used to be our legacy, history and economy, now belongs to those AIDS Organizations, who are taking away our roots and existence for personal gain. They want us to depend on them so they continue to receive grant money and they continue to run and manipulate our community rather than empower the "Ball Community", so we become independent and more efficient as a Community.

    As one of the pioneers and educators of the "Ball Community", we demand transparency; open communication; proof on where the money is going; effective programs; respect and no more wasting money on "Free Balls", to keep us in the artistic ghetto. No more attitude, insults and telling me to mind my own business. I am reaching out to the community at large and that someone will please look into this matter because my friends are still contracting the virus and are still Dying.

This Message was bought to you by "The Lifetime Achiever, Icon and Ballroom Hall of FAMER.

Kevin Ultra Omni, "Ball" Educator and Activist. 


 

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