In the late 90s, Egyptt LaBeija was a regular fixture in the ballroom scene and was ultimately asked to walk a ball herself. Though eventually transitioned from the ballroom scene to the showgirl scene, her entertainment career eventually led to addiction issues. Fortunately, however, she was able to get back up on her feet, walk away from addiction, mentor the next generation, get back to entertaining, and mentor the next generation in the ballroom scene.
In the late nineties is when I went to my first ball.
It was interesting to see the LGBT community in one room, that they’re having a competition
with each other on who can vogue the best, who can model the best, who’s prettier,
whose body is better.
So we kept going periodically to the ballroom scene, and then I was asked to walk a ball.
When you walk a ball, just, you know, to clarify what it is is you’re walking in a house.
So a house is like a clique and every house has different names.
I am in the House of La Beija today, but at that point, I was in the House the Pendarvis.
So when you go out to walk in a competition, you pick the category that you think you fit
At that time, I was a model so I used to do runway.
I didn’t get a lot of trophies.
In beginning, I got none, so I said I don’t want to do this anymore because I didn’t feel
that I was being appreciated.
I would still go, but I would never enter the competition.
And then I just faded out completely.
I went to a drag show.
When I saw these girls on stage with these outfits and the hair and the gowns, it was
so intriguing that I used to go all the time.
Until one day, one of the hosts asked me to get on stage because she needed another contestant
to do her contests.
I said to her, “I can’t do that because I don’t have clothes the way you guys have
She said, “It doesn’t matter, it’s just a contest.”
So we went in the DJ booth, I picked the song, I did the show and I won.
It was the best feeling in the world where I’m standing up here and I have all these
people clapping for me and I can get money for it.
So that’s when I decided to do the showgirl thing and I pushed the ballroom aside.
I got so wrapped up in it that – it’s like any show business, because this is a show
business, entertainment business, and then you get caught up in the drug thing.
So I faded out of the showgirl scene and I was just doing anything I could possibly do
Just being on public assistance and trying to survive off of that is not a good thing
because you, you know – if you had an apartment, which I did, it wasn’t easy to sustain it
because of the drug addiction, trying to maintain everything.
Until one day, I just got sick and tired.
It’s hard to explain how I stopped because I didn’t go to a program – I just decided
enough was enough.
I lost too much.
2007 is when I realized that I had to get me back.
So I met these people with this organization and they put me in a rooming house.
And there is where I met the man that I’m married to today.
He’s the one who actually made me call my parents.
Because he gave me – he gave me an ultimatum.
“Either call your family and see how they’re doing or we can’t work.”
I hadn’t talked to my family in over 10 years prior to that.
I was reluctant.
By I actually called.
And my parents are so happy to hear from me.
They decided to invite us for Thanksgiving.
“Please come to Thanksgiving and please bring him with you.”
My family actually changed at that moment because I didn’t get the same response that
I got before.
Before I felt like I was an outcast to go see them.
Now it was more open, like, “Oh, please, we love you.
You know, this is what’s happened between this and between that.
It was different this time when I went back because I felt loved and appreciated.
Then I decided at this point that I needed to make a difference.
I was introduced to an organization called The Audre Lorde Project.
They were offering a school which is called Trans Justice Community School, which taught
you how to look outside the box and show you that trans people had rights, that we have
a voice, do not be afraid to speak out about things that are wrong.
After I finished school, I became the coordinator for Trans Justice for two years.
Then I had to fade out of that because that’s when I was offered the position to do shows
at the church on Christopher Street as well as doing shows at Boots and Saddles on Christopher
Street, so it was a lot to handle.
So I had to make a choice in the show business or being the coordinator.
During the course of me doing these shows and the shows at Boots and Saddles, that’s
when I was introduced to the House of LaBeija, who is actually the first original house to
throw a ball.
I’ve been in the house now for five years.
I am like the aunt, the godmother, all that wrapped up into one.
There are no coincidences.
Doing these gospel shows at the church across the street from Boots and Saddles, doing shows
there, being in the house of LaBeija and mentoring the younger generation, it taught me that
you have to step outside the box.
It showed me that I can make a difference.
Because the things that I have done, no matter how low you are no matter how hard it might
get, if you believe in yourself, then all it can do is go up.
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