October is LGBT History Month — and a great opportunity to focus on how important events in October, and its predominate holiday Halloween, are to our local LGBTQ history.
Miss Fannie’s Ball: A St. Louis Halloween tradition
Starting in the late 1950s the Jolly Jesters social club organized events with ticket proceeds going to St. Louis African American institutions, such as the home for the aged or the Turner School for children with disabilities. Their most popular and longest running event was a Halloween extravaganza known as “Miss Fannies Artists Ball.” The primary reason for this popularity was the inclusion of “female impersonators” (people who would today be more commonly called drag performers). The significance of this annual event for LGBTQ people is something discussed by Sherie White, herself a two-time winner at Miss Fannie’s Ball in the 1970s (video 12 minutes):
Above, Sherie White speaks October 11, 2018 at the debut of Mapping LGBTQ St. Louis.
Read more in Beyond Gender Binaries, one of several interactive pages on Mapping LGBTQ St. Louis that takes a closer look at key events such as Miss Fannie’ Ball.
Mapping LGBTQ St. Louis is an interdisciplinary humanities project examining the intersections of gender, sexuality, race, class & society in the metropolitan area of St. Louis, Missouri. We welcome questions, comments, and feedback.