New York City has long been a haven for immigrants, dreamers, refugees and those who dared to exist beyond society’s conformities. For decades, people have flocked to the Big Apple to live out their dreams — people like Asanni Armon, founder of For the Gworls, “a Black, trans-led collective that curates parties to fundraise money to help Black transgender people pay for their rent, gender-affirming care, smaller co-pays for medicines/doctor’s visits, and travel assistance.”
“I knew I needed to be who I was and I don’t think I would have been able to do it the way I needed to in Atlanta,” said Armon, who is trans and who grew up in a Black, Christian community in Georgia. “Looking like me — that’s something that I’ve had to deal with and partially why I left.”
Armon moved to New York City in 2017 and found a large Black trans community in Brooklyn, where they were able to build strong connections with like-minded people and, in turn, bring their organization to fruition. In 2019, Armon’s friend, a fellow Black trans person, was facing eviction and Armon held a rooftop party to raise funds, thus, For The Gworls was born.
Now, For the Gworls hosts several parties across New York City to support the cause.
Ploume lounge, which is perched inside of The Ivory Peacock at 38 W. 26th Street, hosted one of the latest For The Gworls fundraisers to support Black trans individuals in need of financial assistance.
On a recent Tuesday night, Luis Hernandez, brand manager and head of sales for Ume plum liqueur, and Sean McClure, beverage director of the Ivory Peacock, joined forces to throw a swanky For the Gworls party with 16 superstar guest bartenders doling out specialty cocktails at the Ploume Lounge, with all tips donated to the For the Gworls organization.
“As strong supporters of the LGBTQ+ community, it was really important to get involved and do what we could,” McClure said of the event.
One of the bartenders of the evening was Aubrey Slater, a co-owner of Saint Luna Moonshine who came to New York City by way of Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania. Slater is tall, witty, and a fountain of knowledge when it comes to food and beverage. She came to the Big Apple in 2012 in search of community and dealt with homelessness and poverty to live life as her true self.
“I was very self-destructive and had a dark streak in me that was always present. When I got [to New York City] I finally chose to stop that toxic cycle and be myself,” Slater said. “My transition saved my life.”
Slater added that her “gender situation,” as she put it, has been the source of most of the problems in her life, but since moving to New York City, she has had a successful career in the beverage industry and has been featured in outlets such as Wine Enthusiast and Time Out magazine.
On July 7, For the Gworls celebrated their four-year anniversary at Manhattan’s Le Bain on Washington Street. To date, the grassroots organization has raised $2.3 million towards its cause.
“It was important for me to do it for a community that I’m a part of and that my friends are actively a part of,” Armon said. “Black trans people still get left in the back.”
Visit forthegworls.party to learn more.