We are 25 years on from the release of Paris is Burning and while HIV acquisition has been stemmed across much of the LGBT community, in America 43 per cent of new HIV infections in the queer community are black gay men specifically. In this fact alone, it is clear the stranglehold of oppression around the Paris is Burning cast did not wither when they went to their graves but still holds power in the communities from which they came.
“What is often forgotten in modern use of the term is that the word “realness” in Paris is Burning is not just a sassy by-word for a convincing costume but a tragicomic disguise of the chasm between what is being emulated”
Looking at Paris Is Burning 25 years after its release | …
This disparity between what we take from the film and what we omit when we consider it is uncomfortable. One of the key concepts Paris is Burning introduces to its audience is “realness”, which Dorian Corey explains in the context of “executive realness” (a ball category where the participants dress up as corporate executives):