a COLORLINES article:
Photographer Gerard Gaskin’s 2013 book, “Legendary: Inside the House Ballroom Scene,” chronicles the New York City ballroom scene itself with intimate portraits he began recording in 1994, not long after the balls first poked into broader view through the 1990 documentary “Paris Is Burning.” Filmmaker Jennie Livingston’s documentary itself frustrated many within the scene, Gaskin included. “I’ve always kind of battled with the idea of whites coming in to do a documentary and their point of view being the strongest,” Gaskin says.
Like many others, Gaskin was drawn to the balls as a teenager living in New York City. He began by making portraints of his friends, and just kept going for decades. “I try not to have discussions around, ‘Oh, it’s an important study and all that,’” he says, rejecting the detachment that too often comes with studying things. Rather, Gaskin kept the project going because he loved being at balls. It’s the opening moments that get him. “The toughness and the rawness that the outside world has put on these young people—parents who threw them out, the word faggot, all those ills, all of that stuff—just peels away and they’re mini-celebrities in their own space. That energy is amazing.”