Video, Past Event

Arts, Health, & Liberation through the House/Ballroom Movement with Michael Roberson & Travis Salway

June 15, 2022

Travis Salway & Michael Roberson explored what the Black Queer & Trans House/Ballroom movement can teach us about public health intra-vention.

Black/Latino LGBT people face some of the highest HIV rates in the US, and yet, they have produced liberatory networks in which they perform, socialize, and thrive. Honoured by the leadership and teachings of guest speaker Michael Roberson, we reflected on how the House | Ballroom community supports resilience and wellness. Through facilitated discussion and Q&A, we considered what the ‘intra-vention’ of House | Ballroom can teach us about other innovations in public health research and practice.

About the Speakers

Michael Roberson

Michael Roberson is a public health practitioner, advocate, activist, artist, curator, and leader within the LGBTQ community. He is the co-creator of the nation’s only Black Gay Research group and National Black Gay Men’s Advocacy Coalition. He holds two Master degrees from Union Theological Seminary NYC, and is Adjunct Professor at both The New School University/Lang College NYC, and Union Theological Seminary NYC. He is an international art and politics consultant and a member of the international sound art collective entitled “Ultra-red.” Michael is scholar in residence for the Center for Race, Religion, and Economic Democracy, as well as a recent TED Media Resident, where he performed a global TED talk about the underground Black/Latinx House/ball ballroom community, entitled “The enduring legacy of ballroom.”

For Black History Month 2021, Michael co-authored an article in Time Magazine titled "Why Voguing and the Ballroom Scene Matter Now More than Ever." Michael also serves as a cultural consultant for Pose, the FX television show. Additionally, he is a public health advisor and community engagement specialist for the NYC COVID-19 contract tracing initiative.

Travis Salway

Travis Salway (he/him) is a settler of German and English descent and queer man from Ohio (Shawnee, Myaamia/Miami, Kaskaskia, and Kiikaapoi territories), currently living as an uninvited guest on unceded territories of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and Səl̓ílwətaʔ (Tsleil-Waututh) First Nations. He is a social epidemiologist who works to understand and improve the health of Two-Spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (2S/LGBTQ) populations. Since 2019, Travis is an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Health Sciences at Simon Fraser University and conducts research in affiliation with the BC Centre for Disease Control and the Centre for Gender and Sexual Health Equity. In 2019-2020, he testified for two standing committees of the Canadian House of Commons, to inform federal policy to promote 2S/LGBTQ health equity. This resulted in the passage of Bill C-4, making it a crime to perpetrate anti-2S/LGBTQ practices, otherwise known as “conversion therapy.” Travis directs the REAFFIRM Collaborative, an interdisciplinary team committed to researching 2S/LGBTQ+ health and co-directs the Two-Spirit Dry Lab, Turtle Island’s first research group exclusively dedicated to understanding the health of Two-Spirit Indigenous people. He is the founder of, a 2S/LGBTQ-affirming mental health service finder. In 2022, his team is administering the survey, to understand the range of settings where Canadian youth have their sexual and gender identities supported or threatened.

Co-Presented by

SFU's Vancity Office of Community Engagement, SFU School for the Contemporary Arts, SFU Faculty of Health Sciences, SFU's Community-Engaged Research Initiative and the Centre for Gender and Sexual Health Equity. '

Supported by

Musagetes Foundation


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