Jerusalem Is Burning: Sashaying at the City's First Kiki Ball

Haarez photographer Ohad Zwingenberg went to Jerusalem’s first Kiki ball designed to increase queer visibility and provide a safe space for LGBT people in the conservative city

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A performer is being helped by friends before walking down the catwalk at a 'Tipulei Harama' event in Jerusalem.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg
Ohad Zwigenberg
Ohad Zwigenberg

The ballroom scene in the LGBTQ community is an underground culture that originated in New York and whose contemporary version – since the 1960s – aims to provide a safe space for Black and Latino trans and drag performers to express themselves freely without fear of discrimination and exclusion.

The participants at these balls compete against one another in different categories such as “Runway”, “Best Dressed” and “Performance” in which they dance Vogue.

Partygoers at a 'Tipulei Harama' event in Jerusalem.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg

They win trophies, prizes and a lot of support.

The ball I photographed was produced as part of a series of events in Jerusalem organized by “Tipulei Harama” – a play on the Hebrew term for conversion therapy, it could be translated as “spirit-raising therapy” – and was aimed at heightening LGBTQ visibility in the public space. The event was co-produced with Lee-Ella Bibas and Maor Maya, who was also the commentator, or host, of the ball.

As a photographer, I thought I was coming to some nice event in the dark basement of a club, not that different from things I had seen and photographed before. But what I found was this incredible eruption of joy and energy happening right in the heart of the city, and also drawing in people from Tel Aviv’s LGBTQ community.

Blog editor: Daniel Tchetchik. From Exposure: Haaretz Photo Blog. Follow on Facebook

Young Israeli men prepare for a performance at a 'Tipulei Harama' party in Jerusalem.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg
Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg
Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg
Jerusalem voguing photos Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg
Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg

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