Elegance Bratton, director of Pier Kids:The Life, a documentary that takes an in-depth look at the intersectionality of family estrangement, homelessness, gentrification, and the criminalization of Black LGBT youth living on the streets of New York City, has unveiled a second project, a photo book called Bound By Night. The book captures a snapshot of the contemporary Ballroom scene. A scene which continues to be a place of community, boundless creativity and fierce competition. An underground society through which individuals can find family and fame. The images include intimate portraits, street shots, behind the scenes preparations and the runway battles themselves.
Many of the young people featured in the book as well as the film have been ostracized from their family because of their gender identity or sexual orientation. The ballroom community with its various houses, mothers and fathers, has become the setting for creating family bonds that have been severed because of pervasive homophobia and transphobia. Ballroom kids create vibrant community around the identities that made them outsiders to their family and the broader LGBT movement. It's in these spaces of neglect for being young, black and Latino, gay and trans where their creativity soars out of necessity and survival. Bound by Night and Pier Kids captures the raw genius of this underground culture.
GLAAD highlighted Pier Kids when they were undergoing a Kickstarter campaign, which ended up exceeding it's goal. More recently, Elegance and his work was featured on ABC News, telling his story as a veteran who is highlighting the LGBT youth who form community in New York City.