Constructing home and family: How the ballroom community supports African American GLBTQ youth in the face of HIV/AIDS

Emily A. Arnold*, Marlon Murtha Bailey

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

135 Scopus citations


This article focuses on the construction of homes and families within the ballroom community, a prominent feature of urban GLBTQ communities of color in cities across the United States. Based on two ethnographic studies with ballroom communities in the San Francisco Bay Area, California, and Detroit, Michigan, we explore the importance of gender and sexual identity in informing community practice around HIV prevention and treatment. As a community, the ballroom scene provides African American queer youth with support for same-sex desire and identity, along with multiple forms of support for HIV prevention. Our study of the ballroom community documents current forms of "intravention" occurring within the community and the importance of the gender-sex system in organizing these practices. We also offer recommendations for community-based organizations to partner with the ballroom community, making use of existing social structures within the community and the salient concepts of home and family, to provide HIV-related services and support. We argue for HIV-prevention interventions to take a more culturally appropriate, nuanced approach to reaching African American youth at risk, utilizing community and family structures, in whatever forms these may take.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)171-188
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Gay and Lesbian Social Services
Issue number2-3
StatePublished - 2009


  • African American MSM
  • Gender
  • Kinship
  • Social support
  • Youth culture

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Sociology and Political Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Constructing home and family: How the ballroom community supports African American GLBTQ youth in the face of HIV/AIDS'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this