By Lauren Warnecke
9 September 2020
In her teens, Lauren Flower realized she was different. Originally from Fresno, California, Flowers moved to Arizona and trained with Tucson Regional Ballet and the school at Ballet Arts Tucson before accepting a scholarship with Houston Ballet II. It was in Houston that Flower started to think she might be gay, but didn’t feel she had anyone to talk to about it.
“I quickly shot all those feelings down,” says Flower. “I was petrified. I thought no one would get it or understand what I was realizing about myself.” When she returned to her home state to join Ballet Arizona in 2013, Flower remained closeted in her professional life. But she began to meet other queer women outside of ballet who helped her to embrace her identity. At age 22, Flower came out and joined Boston Ballet shortly afterward, committed to being fully out of the closet in her life there.
Flower says getting involved in the LGBTQ community made the absence of queer women in ballet more apparent to her. While there are plenty of examples of queer people in the dance world, Flower says ballet in particular is lacking role models for gay women. (Katy Pyle’s company, Ballez, is a notable exception.)
Traditional ballet companies do not typically shy away from celebrating the gay community, but for women there is a profound gap in representation. Earlier this year, a friend pointed out to Flower that Boston Ballet was featuring its gay male dancers in a series of Instagram posts celebrating Pride Month. No one approached Flower, one of two openly gay women in the company, about contributing to the social media campaign. It was only after bringing it up to the PR team that she was included.
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