This summer, Beyoncé took over the world and brought ballroom culture to the forefront of her Renaissance World Tour. Now, Queen Bey is taking her LGBTQ+ allyship a step further, supporting the Human Rights Campaign Foundation in the curation of “The Equality Ball.”
With the support of the star’s BeyGOOD Foundation, The Equality Ball will honor the joy and vibrance of ballroom culture, a pillar for the Black and Brown queer community.
“Ballroom culture is synonymous with the Black queer community—it creates a safe space for LGBTQ+ people at a time when being your authentic self was dangerous,” said Human Rights Campaign President Kelley Robinson. “But, let’s not get confused; it’s still dangerous for us—Black and Brown trans women are facing an epidemic of fatal violence, and just within the past week, O’Shea Sibley, a Black queer man, was brutally murdered for vogueing. The Equality Ball serves as another space for those who feel overlooked to take center stage and let the world know that—as Beyoncé sings—you won’t break our souls.”
Set to take place on Sunday, Aug. 27, in Las Vegas, the HRC Foundation describes the event as an evening filled with performances, a friendly competition of self-expression, and, most importantly, a resource center for HIV testing, voter registration, and information about local LGBTQ+ programs and initiatives. In addition to the acclaimed entertainers, performers, dancers, and drag queens who are scheduled to make an appearance, Kevin Aviance, Mike Q, and Kevin JZ Prodigy, who were featured on Beyoncé’s “Renaissance,” will also be in attendance.
Throughout her world tour, Beyoncé has paid tribute to the LGBTQ+ community and ballroom culture. From referring to the tour as the “House of Chrome” to paying tribute to Sibley, Beyoncé has curated a haven of self-expression, just as The Equality Ball hopes to do.
“Despite the challenges facing our community, we continue to celebrate this renaissance of freedom and self-love and honor the Black and Brown, queer and transgender pioneers who paved the way for us to live our best lives,” said Robinson. “There is hate out there, but nothing can break our souls.”
UNO highlights Black artist Shantell Martin
Bring an artistic twist to game night with UNO’s “Artiste” collaboration with Shantell Martin. Adding a whimsical flair to the fan-favorite card game and drawing creative inspiration from Martin’s distinctive line-drawing approach, the UNO x Shantell Martin deck is embellished with dynamic and fluid black illustrations that morph into various forms like faces, stick figures, sailboats, and more.
Martin’s collection is the sixth addition to the UNO Artiste series, an initiative celebrating the creative influence of artists across decades. Since its launch in 2019, the UNO Artsiste series has highlighted artists like Jean-Michel Basquiat, Nina Chanel Abney and more.
From family game nights to coffee table décor, shop the premium UNO Artiste Series: Shantell Martin deck ($25) here.
Keke Palmer and Sergio Hudson are a dynamic fashion duo
Keke Palmer is the modern muse, according to both Sergio Hudson and Essence magazine.
Essence magazine has revealed that Palmer and Hudson are the cover stars of its September fashion issue. From the Met Gala to summer red carpet events, Palmer has consistently been serving in jaw-dropping designs by Hudson. In their joint cover story, the two discuss their recent style collaborations and how an instant connection and camaraderie have evolved into a close creative partnership.
Palmer said the developing partnership has been especially empowering as she continues to accept her new postpartum body. She said she trusts Hudson, who, despite being a major player in the fashion industry, is also a welcoming presence.
“When I’m with Sergio, we live for each other in a way that is just so authentic,” Palmer said. “From the moment that we met, I was just like, ‘Okay, now what is this judge you’re giving me?’ And he was like, ‘And what is this judge you’re giving me?’ And we just saw it in each other—this feeling that you can’t describe that just makes you feel safe.”
On finding Palmer to be muse-worthy, Hudson said, “Until now, the only muse I ever had a relationship with was my mom. But when Keke and I first met, immediately there was this click. We were right there. She said she had this immediate trust in me, and all I really wanted was to make her look as beautiful as she is. She so inspires me. Her talent is limitless.”
Mary J. Blige and Simone I. Smith celebrate 50 years of hip hop
In honor of hip-hop’s 50th anniversary, Mary J. Blige and Simone I. Smith are commemorating the genre’s milestone with a limited-edition earring collection.
“Hip-hop culture influences the designs for Sister Love — these are the earrings we wore growing up and are still wearing today,” said Blige, per People magazine. “They are designs that every fly girl from my neighborhood and most stylish female rappers wore!”
Celebrating hip-hop’s impact on style, the collection features chunky chain necklaces, bamboo and other hoop-style earrings inspired by the ‘80s, ‘90s and 2000s. For Blige, who’s known to rock statement boots and hoop earrings, the “Hip-Hop 50” capsule is an opportunity to celebrate a cultural and personal milestone. This is not the first time the hip-hop and R&B singer has collaborated with her good friend and jewelry brand founder Simone I. Smith, who is the wife of rap veteran LL Cool J. In 2018, the duo celebrated sisterhood through their “Sisterly Love” collection.
Click here to explore the Hip-Hop 50 collection.
PUMA teams up with Liya Kebede’s lemlem
PUMA and lemlem have teamed up. According to a release to theGrio, the sports brand has just dropped a first-of-its-kind collaboration with the African swimwear and apparel brand founded by model Liya Kebede.
The collection blends lemlem’s signature use of bold colors with PUMA’s activewear to create “premium performance” looks. The line, which includes apparel and footwear, features performance bras, leggings, and shoes, all in bold geometric designs with bright colors and abstract textures “celebrating the versatility of movement.”
The PUMA x LEMLEM collection is $45-$180 and available now online at PUMA.com, the PUMA mobile app, lemlem.com, the PUMA NYC flagship store, and select retail stores worldwide.
TheGrio is FREE on your TV via Apple TV, Amazon Fire, Roku, and Android TV. TheGrio’s Black Podcast Network is free too. Download theGrio mobile apps today! Listen to ‘Writing Black‘ with Maiysha Kai.