Events, TEDxColumbus

Meet the Speakers: Ronald Murray

On Friday, November 16, 2018, fourteen Columbus area residents will become part of the TEDxColumbus community when they present their talks for On the Edge.


Meet Ronald Murray:

Voguing demonstration will bring glimpse of house and ballroom culture to TEDx stage


By Wendy Cornett


This summer, producer Ryan Murphy’s FX drama Pose brought the underground house and ballroom scene to the surface and showcased an unprecedented number of transgender actors as series regulars. One of Columbus’ own curators of house and ballroom will share his perspective — along with a demonstration — of this vital, life-affirming culture.


Social worker Ronald G. Murray is also known to some as Father Ron “drama” Xclusive Lanvin. Since 1993, Murray has gone from active participant to respected leader in the house and ballroom community, which serves as a sanctuary for LGBTQ people of color who are ostracized by their birth families.


“This underground community existed because there were individuals who were rejected by their regular families because they came out as gay,” Murray explained. “They found commonalities among one another, and they started creating their own families, and they called these families ‘houses.’ Back then, you essentially stayed in the house with the people who were part of your family because you had no place else to go.”


At just 44, Murray is already preparing to assume the mantle of family elder to fill a void in the black gay population.


“In the black gay community, there aren’t many elders due to HIV/AIDS decimating an entire generation of our society,” he said, adding that few black gay men make it to their 50s. “One reason I stay involved in ballroom is that it allows me to connect with the younger generation and role model how to be a professional man.”


The family-like structures within the houses — complete with mother and father figures, sisters and brothers — provide, among other benefits, an atmosphere of inclusiveness and empowerment. Competitions (called balls) allow family members to express their truest selves in safe, supportive surroundings, while competing for prizes in different categories, one of which is voguing.


“Voguing became popular in the mainstream communities when Madonna created a song regarding it, but we’ve been voguing in our communities since the 1970s,” Murray noted.


To give the TEDx audience a live look at the energy and talent on display during a competition, Murray’s presentation will include a voguing demonstration courtesy of house and ballroom community participants.


Along the way, Murray will share his insights into the history and culture of house and ballroom, the uniqueness of it, and the importance of it for those who depend upon it for survival.


“Today, there are house and ballroom members who are doctors, lawyers, social workers,” he added. “We are writers; we are choreographers; and these are things that we wouldn’t be if it wasn’t for the ballroom community.”


Ronald G. Murray is a community leader with more than 15 years of training, education advocacy, counseling and social work experience beginning as a youth HIV/AIDS advocate consultant. He also is the founder and CEO of P.E.A.C.E. of Mind, LLC, a consulting agency that provides personal and professional development and education on the issues surrounding LGBTQ people of color.


Murray also has been an active participant and leader in the underground house and ballroom culture since 1993. He is committed to educating others about and advocating for this community as a safe and worthy conduit for local and national outreach, education, support and visibility. Additionally, Murray is a licensed social worker and chemical dependency counselor with a master’s degree in public administration. He lives in Columbus.