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In 1990, the documentary Paris is Burning showed the New York ballroom scene of the eighties to the whole world, the effervescent nightlife from the point of view of the marginalized LGBT+ community.

The doc stressed the identity of each character, with their dreams and ambitions during a period when the AIDS epidemic was advancing at a fast pace, while medicine was running out of time.

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Octavia St. Laurent Reproduction

Among so many figures featured in the feature, one of them called attention – Octavia St. Laurent. A trans, black woman, who dreamed of becoming a model (and accomplished), but she went much further. Octavia was a trans activist and HIV prevention educator, and most of all, an icon of New York’s underground LGBT culture.

Sixteen years later, it was the subject of another documentary, this time dedicated to her: How Do I Look (2006). In the feature, Octavia St. Laurent speaks openly about all subjects, including her treatments for cancer and AIDS, drug addiction, challenges as a sex worker, and prejudice for being who she was, which earned her several passages through the prison.

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Octavia St. Laurent Reproduction

Born in Brooklyn in 1964, since she was a child she already saw herself as a girl and had the support of her parents, when she was very young and revealed how she felt. In 1982, she already showed her talent in the Vogue scene of the time, shown in the documentary Paris is Burning. In 1993, she participates in the film The Saint of Fort Washington in the role of a prostitute, the work featured in the cast with actors Matt Dillon and Danny Glover, being her only performance as an actress.

posing
Octavia St. Laurent Reproduction

In the 2000s, Octávia was diagnosed with cancer, dying in 2009, after a long battle with the disease. Owner of striking phrases, she once declared “This is me. You understand? No, I am not a woman. No, I am not a man. I am Octavia ”.

This article is also available in: Português Español