Last week, thousands of Londoners paid tribute to the victims of the Orlando shooting at a vigil on Old Compton Street. There were tears, candles, singing and vogueing. We met one of the voguers, Jay Jay Revlon, to talk about why this year's Pride is so important.
Why are you going to Pride this year?
‘This is the first time I feel like I need to come to Pride. What happened in Orlando has made me think: What am I doing in my own community? Usually I feel like there’s no one there my age, but now I want to go and speak to people making a difference and tell them who I am.’
What's your plan for the day?
‘I’m performing there for the first time. I’m there to say: “Vogueing is real, it’s a ‘thing’.” And if anyone in the crowd wants to do it, call me.’
You decided to vogue at the vigil for those who died in Orlando. Why?
‘When I heard about what happened, I couldn’t sleep. I was watching the news announce ten people dead, 20 people dead, 30 people dead... I said to my friend: “We’re going down to the vigil, I’m going to bring my speaker and we’re going to vogue in the name of the people we’ve lost and the lives they lived.’
A video of you dancing went viral. Were you expecting such an outpouring of love?
‘I was worried that people wouldn’t understand why we were dancing. But as soon as we started, people surrounded us, cheering. A guy from Orlando came out and said that he had friends who went to Pulse, that he felt lonely being so far away from them during this time, but that standing in our circle he felt love.’
Why do you think vogueing had that effect?
‘Vogueing requires you to let out all your emotion and spirit on the floor. It came about as a reaction to oppression: in the ’80s you would let out all your pain in a costume at a ball. It brought the community together and I think it still works. People said to us: “I wasn’t going to go to Pride on Saturday because I was so scared, but because of you I’m going.” ’
Watch Jay Jay vogueing at the Orlando vigil:
Jay Jay Revlon will appear with Mzz Kimberley at Pride in Trafalgar Square. Sat Jun 25.