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Looking Back at Leyna Bloom’s Start in Ballroom

The model reflects on the culture that builds confidence in queer and trans POC.

Leyna Bloom’s extraordinary trailblazing career developed in the house-ballroom community. It’s where she attributes learning true self-acceptance and confidence. The SI Swimsuit 2021 cover model found her stride when she moved to New York City at 17, and eventually found a community in a house. “A house is a family network, an ageless unit of people of color of queer culture,” Bloom says. “They come together because either their parents kicked them out on the street, or they’re looking for people just like them. They find each other and they create a house. There’s a ‘mother’, there’s a ‘father’ and there’s ‘children’. You basically go to balls to compete and it’s a healthy, beautiful competition where you can go back and forth and banter with your other peers.”

Houses compete in walks. Competitions are judged on vogue skills, costumes, appearance and attitude. Adds Bloom, “Ballroom, it’s a place where I learned about confidence. Learned about nerve. Learned about my rich culture and where I come from. It was the first place I started seeing trans women of color that were beautiful. It’s a community inside a community. It’s my home, it’s where I started out.”

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The experience was so formative that Bloom is making plans to bring ballroom to a wider audience in hopes to offer more trans kids the power it gave her. “I want to take ballroom to the outer limits and take it into every single household in the world,” Bloom says. “I think once we reach that point everyone around the world will be that much closer because they can just be themselves. That’s my goal with ballroom.”

June is Pride Month, but supporting and championing the LGBTQ+ community should obviously be a year-round requirement. And with powerhouses like Bloom leading the cause, that’s more than possible. “I’ve got scars and I’ve got bruises,” Bloom shares. “I’m the first to do a lot of things and I’m so happy I was born in this lifetime for the next generation to come.”