AIDS and Behavior

, Volume 17, Issue 4, pp 1524–1539 | Cite as

“It’s Like Our Own Little World”: Resilience as a Factor in Participating in the Ballroom Community Subculture

  • Katrina Kubicek
  • Miles McNeeley
  • Ian W. Holloway
  • George Weiss
  • Michele D. Kipke
Original Paper


We are well into the third decade of the HIV epidemic. While strides have been made in HIV prevention, rates for African American men who have sex with men (AAMSM) and young AAMSM continue to increase—perhaps indicating that traditional deficit-approaches of HIV prevention are not effective for all populations. Following a recent call to investigate the resiliency of young gay men, this study identifies sources of resilience and strength within the House and Ball communities, a subculture comprised primarily of AAMSM. The mixed-methods design included survey data (N = 263) collected at community events, interviews with Ball attendees and focus group data with House members. Survey data indicate a relationship between participating in the House and Ball communities and seeking support, acceptance and entertainment. Qualitative data validate these findings and provide detail on motivations for AAMSM to participate and the perceived benefits of participation. Findings are discussed in relation to building strengths-based interventions, using concepts of resiliency including shamelessness, social creativity, social support and volunteerism.


House and Ball Resilience African American YMSM Subculture 



This study was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse of the National Institutes of Health (RO1 DA22968). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institute on Drug Abuse or the National Institutes of Health. The authors would like to acknowledge the contributions of the staff members who contributed to collection, management, analysis and review of these data: Veronica Abernathy, William Beyer, Teela Davis, Deandre Ellison, Judith Grout, Cody Haight, Nefe Iredia, Tattiya Kliengklom, Sylvia Lambrechts, Donna Luebbe, Griselda Monroy, Heather Reyes, Marcia Higareda, Luis Salazar, Sheree Schrager, Milton Smith, Flor Vindel, and Carolyn Wong. The authors would also like to acknowledge the insightful and practical commentary of the members of the P3 Advisory Board, the Mothers and Fathers from the: House of Allure, House of Chanel, House of Ebony, House of Escada, House of Etro Galliano, House of Herrera, House of Garcon, House of Gotti, House of Lauren van Cartier, House of Mizarahi, House of Miyake Mugler, House of Revlon, House of Rodeo, and the House of Ultra Omni. We are especially grateful to all of the parents, leaders and members of the Los Angeles House and Ball communities for their commitment and willingness to share their diverse and often profound personal experiences as well as welcoming us into a part of their lives.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Katrina Kubicek
    • 1
  • Miles McNeeley
    • 1
  • Ian W. Holloway
    • 2
  • George Weiss
    • 1
  • Michele D. Kipke
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.Community, Health Outcomes, and Intervention Research Program, Saban Research InstituteChildren’s Hospital Los AngelesLos AngelesUSA
  2. 2.School of Social WorkUniversity of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA
  3. 3.Department of Pediatrics, Keck School of MedicineUniversity of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA

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