Ballroom culture has hit the mainstream. Hard evidence for this claim exists in the fact that the writer of this review, a white girl from the suburbs, has heard of it. In the documentary Pier Kids, director Elegance Bratton takes us to the piers on the edge of NYC, the same piers portrayed in Paris Is Burning and Pose as the entry point for young black and brown queer people into the glamorous ballroom scene. Pier Kids mainly shows us the grounds of the piers as they are now, no holding back. Red and blue police lights flash in the corners of many frames, and interviewees speak to us on their level, their views and circumstances never prettied-up for easier consumption. What could come across is that the black queer community is suffering, but Bratton and the participants have let us past barriers to push our seeing further than the surface read. We can see that there is struggle in being houseless and resourceless, and there is also very strong friendship in the scene. We can see that your blood family may not understand your transition, but your chosen house children will look up to you. We can see loyalty, respect, pain, creativity, unjustness, love. We can see that the black queer and trans people of Pier Kids are vibrant and resilient, that they have an unquestionable community that they chose, luckily for us, to share.
– Mara Lemesany