Also.Also.Also: Ballroom Legend Carmen Xtravaganza Has Died at 62 — Revisit Her Activism and Accomplishments

feature image photo by Catherine McGann / Contributor via Getty Images

I spent the weekend reuniting with some friends in Philly, and it was so restorative <3.

Queer as in F*ck You

Paris Is Burning Icon Carmen Xtravaganza Passes Away At 62. House of Xtravaganza, which ballroom icon and trans activist Carmen Xtravaganza joined in the early 80s, announced Carmen’s passing early this weekend. The tribute posted on Instagram chronicles many of her major accomplishments, including the groundbreaking Village Voice cover story she was featured in in 1988, which was the first mainstream media coverage of NYC ballroom. Carmen famously made a very memorable appearance in Paris Is Burning, but her legacy of course is about so much more than that film. She founded a Spanish chapter of House of Xtravaganza, and she was inducted into the Ballroom Hall of Fame in 1999. As she stated in a 2013 interview with TransGriot, she often called for coalitions between ballroom spaces and trans activism spaces. Last month, Carmen posted on Facebook about her stage four cancer.

Revisit her indelible Paris Is Burning moment:

Revisit her appearance in the 2005 documentary How Do I Look:

Revisit the aforementioned Village Voice cover story:

Here is some other news:

This was published back in June, but it’s worth revisiting: From Underground Subculture to Global Phenomenon: An Oral History of Ballroom Within Mainstream Culture. And a related retrospective read: The Historic, Mainstream Appropriation of Ballroom Culture.

Black Trans Activist Dominique Morgan Just Had an Omaha Street Named in Her Honor.

A Family Caught Up in Missouri’s Fight over Transgender Issues Moves Out of State.

In another blow to trans rights in sports: British Rowing Bans Transgender Athletes in Women’s Races.

Becoming Others: Enacting the Transness of Virginia Woolf’s Orlando.

As a Trans Woman Sailing Around the World, Storms Are the Least of Her Worries.

Saw This, Thought of You

The Steamiest Romance Novels Written By Black Authors.

While we’re on the literature beat: Dear Pulitzer Prizes: It’s Time to Recognize Literature by Noncitizens.

The FDA Has Approved the First-Ever Pill for Postpartum Depression.

Political Snacks

DeSantis’s AP Psychology Ban: The “Don’t Say Gay” Successor You Were Warned About.

House Republicans Are Adding Dozens of Anti-LGBTQ+ Measures to Must-Pass Bills.

One More Thing

I enjoyed this political cartoon from The Nation, even though it’s a bummer! I Scream.

And now, a poem:

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Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya

Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya is the managing editor of Autostraddle and a lesbian writer of essays, short stories, and pop culture criticism living in Orlando. She is the assistant managing editor of TriQuarterly, and her short stories appear or are forthcoming in McSweeney's Quarterly Concern, Joyland, Catapult, The Offing, and more. Some of her pop culture writing can be found at The A.V. Club, Vulture, The Cut, and others. You can follow her on Twitter or Instagram and learn more about her work on her website.

Kayla has written 837 articles for us.


  1. I watched Paris is Burning for the first time on a flight last night. The scene you shared was a standout for me because the trans joy just radiated off the screen. The person next to me must have thought I was a weirdo for grinning stupidly at my screen on this loud uncomfortable flight. Gutted to read she died.

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