WHERE IT ALL BEGAN
In response to the societal policing of young people of color’s bodies in Los Angeles, 4 artists: Laura Owens, Eve Luckring, Diane Bromberg, and Tessa de Roy created an organization that enabled young people to artistically express themselves, educate their peers about sexual health, and engage their community through public events. This organization, known as REACH LA, hosted biannual substance-free raves and sexual health workshops that attracted over 2000 youth attendees.
Starting in 2006, the Legendary Sean/Milan™ Garcon, one of the pioneering founders of the West Coast House and Ballroom Scene, launched the annual Ovahness Ball with REACH LA, a platform for at-risk LGBTQIA+ young people of color in the House and Ballroom Community to showcase their artistic talents as well as strengthen their sense of community. Sean/Milan™, Carla Gordon, and other REACH LA staff members transformed Ovahness into not only an annual Ball but several other programs that allowed low-income LGBTQIA+ young people of color to grow as artists. Guest artists supported the programs by collaborating to create new products and performances which lead to the creation of The House of AWT.
The mission of the House of AWT is to empower at-risk queer (LGBTQIA+) youth/young adults of color by offering free art experiences to develop their skills, creativity, self-worth, and resilience. The House of AWT is a professionally-run art community and safe space where queer young people of color who are marginalized from mainstream society, and their allies can explore their own ideas and creative practices. With the House of AWT, young people work side-by-side with professional artists and community cultural leaders in order to learn and practice various urban art forms including fashion, dance, media arts, music production, and street art.
The House Of AWT provides the resources and opportunities for young artists to produce and share their work through art shows, social media, public performances/events, and micro-enterprises such as pop-up shops and community art fairs. For young aspiring artists of color who are interested in pursuing a career in the arts, the House Of AWT provides pre-professional training including mentoring, networking and coaching, to build self-sustainability and skillsets for successful employment in the creative arts field.