Luna Luis Ortiz on HIV/AIDS Activism and the Latex Ball

In 1986, at just 14 years old, Luna Ortiz found out he was HIV positive. He took what could have been devastating crippling news and instead embraced his diagnosis. Luna rose to the top of the New York City House and Ball scene in the late ‘80s. Luna Ortiz became an inspiration for a community suffering from an epidemic.

The NYC Ball scene gained awareness through the documentary film “Paris is Burning” by Jennie Livingston, and FX's series “POSE” created by Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk, and Steven Canals. The Ball scene rose to prominence as a way for LGBTQ individuals to express themselves in a community all their own. “Houses” or teams of individuals compete in dancing of fashion competitions based on a theme and win titles. And these houses serves as more than just entertainment—for LGBTQ individuals who had been clicked out of their own houses, they served as a family and a way to stay off of the streets.

Through his connection to the House and Ball culture in NYC, Luna helped to organize the House of Latex Project, which became the Annual Gay Men's Health Crisis Latex Ball, a competition that also shines a spotlight on HIV education.

Through the intersection of creative expression and activism, Luna Ortiz continues to inform, empower, and spark conversations to end stigma about the virus.