By- DeoVonte “Deo” Means
Prologue– Underground sub-cultures have been a fundamental aspect of the urban LGBT community for decades. Many would argue these subcultures provided much needed support and acceptance during a time not long ago when being gay was not acceptable by family, friends or society. As highlighted in the iconic documentary Paris Is Burning, the first of many subsequent black subcultures were indeed “families”. Legendary drag queens such as Pepper Labeija and Dorian Corey of NYC, would embrace young, homeless and sometimes lost youth; bringing them under their wings and giving them the guidance and stability needed to mature in this lifestyle. These legendary drag queens were referred to as “mother” of the family of their chosen last name. Families often lived and maundered through the obstacles of day-to-day life together. Their kids oftentimes accompanied them to the late night “drag balls” in which the mother would compete in pageantry shows against other familial mothers. As families and drag balls began to evolve, the competition soon began to filter out and include selected “categories” in which the “kids” could also compete as well. This gave birth to what we call modern day “ballroom” and ballroom “houses”. For years, houses maintained their high competition level while also priding themselves on the original family aspect of the concept. In the mid 2000’s -as ballroom began to exploded upon the mainstream and house leaders incorporated a more industrialized mind-set towards talent acquisition- many of its members found themselves yearning for the close knit family aspect that was previously the core fabric of the ballroom community. This thought sparked a re-emergence of youth forming independent “families” outside of their general ballroom houses, which ultimately manifested itself as two separate entities with the same core concepts of competition.
Intro– Locally, admittedly, gay families most oftentimes received snubs and judgments from the mainstream community. This was impart due to the images of violence and poverty from the “families” that we became accustomed to being exposed to. August debuted The Carter family. To my shock, I was thoroughly impressed! I was initially intrigued, because the fundamental composition of the Carter family was vastly different than the norm. The Carter family architecture reflected a determination to invest in activities tethered to a clear purpose. They are composed of a mixed demographic. New and seasoned community members. Some are vested stake holders and others are those with the desire to leave a true footprint on the city and their individual lives. Most impressive was the flawless execution of their first major branding project. A collaborative effort was established between senior leadership and I, and they were indeed honored to allow me and my followers an opportunity inside their world and become familiar with their individual mindset, goals, and mission. Below is The Flyy-Life and Carter Family Sit-Down
FL– Fundamentally, what distinguishes you, The Carters, from other families in Chicago?
Carters– What distinguishes Carter from other families is we don’t try to fit in and are able to stand out as a unit and individually. We are mature with regular functioning lives. This is a requirement to obtain membership with Carter. We love a good party but it all is secondary when it comes to priorities.
Carters– Because we have Always been one of the “It” families, new members have to go through a selection process. We don’t have open meetings for any and everyone. Members are hand picked and thoroughly researched after showing interest. Our members are the representation of The Carter Brand are expected to be a walking reflection of everything that we stand for. Everyone doesn’t make the cut.
Carters– One of our biggest challenges was when we had to start all the way over. After being established for a year, we had a situation that caused a little confusion in our organization. It resulted in some of our original members to leave and start their own family. People thought that Carter was no more, but we learned from that situation. It actually helped us create new bonds and we recruited new members.
Carters– Its believed that the family scene was birthed from ballroom when in fact ballroom was birthed from families which were called “houses.” It is thought that families are composed of violent, drug addicted youth and this is untrue. Yes, there are some, but there are also individuals with great jobs, in school and doing positive things within the community.
Carters– Our biggest regret is not getting started earlier.
Carters– Our perseverance through all of the negativity that came our way. We are continuing to be better ourselves as a group and individually and we are very proud of that.
Carters– You can expect to see progression of course, us reaching new levels, doing something outside of the norm, giving back to the community, making changes in and out of the scene while continuing to remain a family. Maybe we can make this brand bigger than Chicago. We have to keep somethings secret to keep the people watching.
We want everyone to know that Carter is more than just a family…Its a LifeStyle 💯