Philly Is Burning – by Kate Kilpatrick

The city’s ballroom scene is both a social and support network for young LGBT African-Americans.

When it comes to balls, there are mini balls, big balls and major balls. The 12th annual Dorian Corey awards being held on this evening in West Philly is a major ball?named in honor of the legendary Harlem queen from the golden age of drag.

Emannuel ?Mann? Prodigy, 35, father and founder of the House of Prodigy (think gay fraternity minus the frat house), is putting the finishing touches on the red-and-gold table decorations in Lancaster Hall at 51st and Warren streets, the spacious but not-so-glamourous venue for tonight’s totally glamorous ceremony.

It’s nearly 2 in the morning, and the ballroom community is just starting to make its way through the doors and thorough security pat-downs.

Men with braided hair and hoodies lead their voluptuous transgendered girlfriends around the room by the hand, while butch lesbians remove their fitted hats to reveal crisp barbershop shape-ups. Young divas of all genders with flawless skin and perfectly arched brows strut their sex appeal. In the language of ballroom they’re here to ?bring it? and ?serve the runway??showing off their ?fierce? outfits, ?fabulous? figures and ?cunty? attitudes in honor of the legends who’ve walked before them.

?This is like the gay Grammys,? says Prodigy. ?It’s the fantasy life of being a celebrity.?