Vogue, as an art form, emerges as a radical indigenous embodied intervention as black and brown queer bodies reclaimed, through performance, the telling of their own stories. The Ball created novel opportunities for young people to be honored and crowned among their peers for their truth-telling, nuance, originality, impact, and movement in ways otherwise impossible in their day to day lives in a society that by every turn sought to either kill, traumatize, or render them invisible.
In 2007 Devon Webster formed the House of Zion in New York’s Ballroom scene. Pony’s vision for the House of Zion was nested in his work in Public Health and out of concern for the challenging health outcomes facing his community, where HIV/AIDS among young Black and Latino gay and bisexual men who have sex with men in large American cities like New York, Atlanta, Washington D.C., Miami, Chicago rival that of sub-Saharan Africa. Pony also was inspired by a strong desire to foster a bridge between the kinds of success, training, and opportunities he enjoyed as a professional dancer and celebrity choreographer (working with artists like Mariah Carey, Ashanti, and Lil’ Mo) and the cauldron of raw creativity and talent that has always been endemic to Ballroom culture.