On Thursday, June 22nd, 2023, people supported by ADAPT came together to participate in the annual Radical Joy Ball. The Radical Joy Ball, an annual show hosted by the Whitney Museum of American Art in Manhattan, is a celebration that displays the vibrancy of the LGBTQIA+, BIPOC, and disability communities through fashion and artistic expression. The show incorporates expressive fashion, music, lighting, and decoration, and takes inspiration from the inclusive Ballroom scene of 1970’s New York City.
On the day of the event, the Whitney’s event space was illuminated by rainbow lights that filled the walls with a shifting grid of colors. The runway was surrounded by excited audience members, many of whom were dressed up themselves.
Macy Bottom, the event’s incredible emcee, introduced each model as they made their entrances to an upbeat soundtrack. They strutted down the runway to booming applause as Macy described their outfits and how they represented the designer’s sense of disability and/or LGBTQ+ pride.
Kathleen “Kit Kat” Archibald was one of the models and designers who participated in the Radical Joy Ball. Her outfit consisted of a bedazzled green jumpsuit accessorized with colorful scarves, a pride flag, and a customized badge that read, “The Bionic Woman.” Kathleen was inspired by The Bionic Woman, a TV show from the 1970’s that depicted a super-powered woman who uses cybernetic enhancements to become a secret agent.
Kathleen’s badge also read, “She has the strength to do anything,” a message that reflects Radical Joy Ball’s positive message. “The importance of the Radical Joy Ball is to be independent in your own skin,” Kathleen said.
Gerald, another person supported by ADAPT, was a model this year and also had a hand in the Radical Joy Ball’s creation. As a part of the LGBTQ+ community himself, he advocated for ADAPT to become more involved in pride-related events.
“I want to help people,” Gerald said. “I want to help more disabled people understand the disabled LGBTQ community. I want to help them be more comfortable with themselves.”
The Radical Joy Ball also encouraged Gerald’s own personal growth.
“It helped me with coming out and being myself,” he said.
The Whitney Museum of Art, which ADAPT has had a close relationship with for several years, has long made an effort to be accessible to patrons with disabilities. In an effort to improve museum accessibility, they have incorporated ASL tours, verbal descriptions of exhibits, and discounted ticket admission for people with disabilities (as well as free admission for one care partner).
As an inclusive organization, we strive to create joyful and expressive experiences for LGBTQIA+ members of the ADAPT community. We would like to thank everyone involved in the Radical Joy Ball, including the Whitney team, our own Community Outreach team, host Macy Bottom, the model/designers, and everyone from the community who showed up for the Ball.
Check out a clip from the Radical Joy Ball here!