I have been attending vogue balls since I was a teenager, and I have always been amazed by the level of pride. The celebration of being transgender is what continues to impress me the most, as well as the incredible level of creativity. The balls allow me to be extremely creative and to express myself. To me they are a kind of fantasy of beauty and elegance, which is why I called my first ball the Dream Ball.
Now I feel that it is time to reinvent the ball, to make it more inclusive and diverse. I want to expand the appeal and reach of the ball to include every kind of person: gay, transgender, straight, rich, poor and everything in between. I want to include people from the worlds of fashion, music, entertainment, art and the club scene. I want to express the fact that we are all part of a beautiful and diverse universe. I want to say that we all belong here and that we should all be celebrated. That's why I'm calling my ball the Universal Ball. The space at Capitale, where I'm having my ball, takes it to another level of beauty and sophistication.
I also want the Universal Ball to be a platform for activism on behalf of the gay and transgender community. I want the Universal Ball to stand up for equality and justice. That is why I am partnering with author Joe Wenke to produce my ball, and why I have agreed to be on the cover of his book, You Got to Be Kidding. Joe's book satirizes the Bible. It's very funny, but it uses humor to call attention to the fact that people use the Bible and religion to justify bigotry and discrimination against gay and transgender people.
We have made a lot of progress, but many people hate us for who we are. There are still many countries in the world where you can be killed for being gay or transgender. It can happen here in this country, too. I have lost many friends over the years. Earlier this year my friend Lorena Escalera died in a fire under what was called "suspicious circumstances." It's clear that she was murdered, and to this day no one has been brought to justice. A few days ago I attended a wake for another friend who died under suspicious circumstances. The minister kept referring to my friend as "he." So there was no respect for her even in death.
The reality is that all kinds of people exist on this planet. We all have a right to be here and to be able to live with dignity and respect. Until ignorant people open up their eyes and realize that we are all from the same place and that the beauty of the universe is in the differences, there will be no justice.
If everything and everybody were the same, it would be a boring universe. But the universe is diverse. And that is what I want to express and celebrate through my Universal Ball.
Gisele Xtravaganza will present the Universal Ball at Capitale at 130 Bowery in New York City on Nov. 23 from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. The Grand March begins at 11 p.m., and categories begin at 12 a.m. Amanda Lepore will perform. For tickets, visit GiselleNewWorld.com, contact Joe Wenke at 203-326-1655 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. You must be 21 or older to enter.