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Venus Xtravaganza's Home Is Now a Historical Landmark



Three plus decades after the success of the visual gay bible Paris Is Burning, one of it's legendary ballroom stars Venus Xtravaganza is about to have her Jersey City home landmark designation status.


via: Them


According to NJ.com. Xtravaganza’s home is located in the Hamilton Park neighborhood, and it’s where she lived with her grandmother and filmed her interviews for Burning.


Nj.com noted that the landmark designation is an “intentional effort” to preserve the city’s LGBTQ+ history, especially at a moment in which many states are looking to erase any mention of queer and trans people from school curricula.


While many other states have scrambled to deny trans youth access to gender-affirming care, Democratic governor Phil Murphy has done the opposite, making New Jersey a safe haven for trans health care. Murphy signed an executive order in April directing state agencies to protect people accessing gender-affirming care, including people who travel to New Jersey to access it.


Xtravaganza was killed in 1988, at the age of 23, prior to the film’s release. Her murderer was never found. Xtravaganza joined the House from which she took her name in 1983, according to Dazed. She is one of the dominant personalities in the film and her line “Touch all of this skin” is an oft-quoted legendary line amongst queer people to this day. To many people, Xtravaganza was an early image of a young trans woman living authentically and happily among those who loved and supported her.





Venus’ older brother John Pellagatti remembered her fondly: “She was always out in the streets dancing with her friends,” he said. “She was voguing before voguing was out.”


In an interview with Nj.com, Burning director Jennie Livingston underscored the importance of landmarks to commemorate LGBTQ+ people who made history.


“LGBTQ people live in our cities and towns, but we often are invisible,” Livingston said. “There are virtually no statues of us. Historically, there aren’t so many records of us, of our own chosen families, our ways of expressing ourselves, of our relationships to our families of origin, to our accomplishments.”


Gisele Alicea, the current mother of the House of Xtravaganza told Nj.com she was “inspired” watching the 23-year-old in the film. She was also instrumental in getting Xtravaganza’s home considered for landmark status.


“To me they were magnificent,” Xtravaganza said. “They were beautiful. I couldn’t believe that they were so proud to be themselves, and they owned themselves.”



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