I recently had the pleasure to sit and observe a “House” meeting with a gay support group by the name of The House of Monroe. I must say I was thoroughly impressed as well as shocked to see and learn some of the things that I did. The House of Monroe is just one of many “houses” that caters to the needs and lifestyles of homosexual, transsexual and bisexual children, teens and adults. The purpose of the house is to give people who have been shunned by their families and friends a place to be their selves and associate with others who are like them. Each house has a different name, such as Revlon, Dior and Maserati just to name a few. These houses function very similarly to that of fraternities and sororities. The houses are spread all over the United States and even in other countries.
I had the opportunity to sit down with the House of Monroe (Delaware, Maryland and Virginia Chapter). There were participants at this meeting from Philadelphia, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware and D.C. I must admit I was a little skeptical at first, not knowing what I was getting myself into. By the end of the evening I felt so comfortable and right at home! I was blown away by all of the information I learned about this particular community.
The House functions like a real family. If I had to compare it to an organization, it would be as follows: The President would be called The Mother or Father (depending on the sex), each of these people would appoint a Vice President who would be called the Aunts and Uncles. The members who enter the house would be considered the children (sons and daughters). The Mother and Father of course are the heads of the House. They take care of the children. They help them emotionally, financially; encourage attendance in school, church and community service activities. Many of the houses have weekly or monthly meetings to discuss House business, new members, promotions in the house, etc.
A typical meeting is usually held at one of the Mother or Father’s houses or a disclosed location. The meetings are usually run by the First Lady of the House, who is typically the assistant to the Mother/Father. To be welcomed into the House one must apply. An official application is filled out and reviewed by the executives of the House; they discuss the benefits and liabilities of the individual and how the House could assist that person in getting back on the right track. After a decision has been made, the House will hold a meeting to introduce everyone to the new family member. The same procedure is done to remove those from the House who violate House rules. Some examples of violation are sleeping with or having relations with other members of the house or disrespecting a Mother or Father’s wishes.
Aside from the “business” aspects of the House, they also have a lot of fun!! They even have their own language! These men and women really have a light that shines so brightly within them. Many of them have talents beyond this world! Some of them sing, dance, and do hair, makeup, fashion etc. The way they display these talents is through a “Ball”. This is where the different houses come together and compete at a club or designated venue and show off!!!! There is a cash prize, or rewards for winning your respected category as well. Some of the categories at the balls include dancing, singing, “realness” (which is a born man or woman who looks like the opposite sex), “body” (which means they’re figures are flawless, and “face” (which means they have a very pretty or handsome face). There are so many more!
This was an amazing experience. I am glad that I had the chance to really sit down and get acquainted with the house natives. I learned a lot about the culture and what they really stand for. I am a very open minded person. I embrace people from all walks of life. The more we educate, communicate and empower one another; the world will grow to be a better place. I am pleased to know that organizations such as this exist. So the next time you see something that you just can’t quite understand, look a little bit deeper, you just may see something that could change your life.
Shay Star is an artist and entrepreneur, and CEO of Team Shay Star. Her website is www.shaystar.com.