Black Camp: How We Used Fashion To Fight Erasure At The Met Gala

Photo: Kevin Tachman/MG19/Getty Images.
I have a love/hate relationship with the Met Gala. The annual ball, held on the first Monday in May, brings out some (okay, a lot) of the best red carpet moments of the year. As a lifelong lover of clothes, I can’t wait for “fashion prom”; playing dress up is a treasured past time of mine. But the Met Gala’s themes can be controversial and problematic, ignoring the contributions of marginalized cultures and centering whiteness.
This year's homage to camp arguably fell into that category. The concept, popularized in Susan Sontag's 1964 essay, "Camp: Notes On Fashion", is canonically queer but only one Black drag queen, RuPaul, attended the event. And in both the Met exhibit and the messaging around the gala theme, Black camp was a footnote, when it was mentioned at all.
At the Met Gala Monday, the #blackcamp references that were conspicuously missing from the exhibit showed up triumphantly on the red (actually pink) carpet. Black attendees used their outfits to change the camp style narrative and center it around our cultural contributions.

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