Self-expression. Found family. Safety. These were the themes that inspired and carried through the night of the Grima Spirita Ball in Puerto Rico. Multiple times a year, the House of LaBori Vogue (Laboratoria Boricua de Vogue) hosts celebratory balls. In addition to fostering a sense of community, the balls raise funds and awareness for the local LGBTQ+ community.
Kindness comes in many forms. Vico Ortiz, actor, drag king, and activist, knew that kindness could be found in creating safe spaces for their LGBTQ+ community. The Grima Spirita Ball provides such a space, while celebrating the intersection of Afro-Caribbean and Queer identities.
“It was a celebration of who we are,” Vico explained. “It was encompassing our traditions, our culture, our language, and our most authentic version of ourselves.”
Vico Ortiz Collaborates with Random Acts
Raising the money for this space, however, was a challenge. When Random Acts approached Vico about working together on a sponsored act of kindness, they told us about the difficulty of raising enough money for the December 2022 Grima Spirita Ball.
“Unfortunately,” Vico said, “the government isn’t as supportive as we’d want them to be, which is why these $5,000 that were graciously given by Random Acts were so very, very needed and so very special.”
By collaborating with Random Acts, Vico Ortiz was able to help provide funding to the House of LaBori Vogue to put on the Grima Spirita Ball, just in time for the holidays. The event raised money for important causes and created a safe space for the LGBTQ+ community.
Found Family At The House of LaBori Vogue
The House of LaBori Vogue aims to create spaces in the community where people can connect with themselves and others to experience what Vico called “Jayaera.” The term is Puerto Rican slang for “the search for happiness and empowerment” — or as Vico puts it, “feeling yourself.” The organization is also a local advocate for liberation and social justice.
Behind the House of LaBori Vogue is artist, cultural worker, and dancer Edrimael Delgado Reyes. Currently a student at the University of Puerto Rico, Delgado is already a pillar of the local LGBTQ+ community.
LaBori Vogue is the first “vogue laboratory” on the island, using dancing as an agent of liberation, individual transformation, and collective justice. “Voguing,” which is a passion of Delgado’s, is a modern house dance that started in the 1980s, evolving from the Harlem ballroom scene of the 1960s that has deep roots in the Harlem Renaissance, and Latino and African American LGBTQ culture.
The LaBori Vogue ballroom is more than just a rehearsal space; it’s a place for community building, activism, and found family.
The holiday Grima Spirita Ball, made possible through Vico Ortiz and Random Acts teaming up, was no different.
“There is nothing like celebrating the holidays with your chosen family,” Vico said. “It was freeing, cathartic, euphoric. I felt held, and safe, and cared for.”
Thank you to Vico Ortiz for dreaming up this amazing act of kindness for the House of LaBori Vogue. We are thrilled to hear that this act enriched so many lives at the Grima Spirita Ball. If you have a kindness idea that you would like to help make happen for your LGBTQ+ community, apply for support at randomacts.org/acts.