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Queer Gang Members In DC Find Redemption Through Fashion

Sometimes the news is good.

Check It is a gay gang known for shoplifting, purse-snatching and fighting in Washington, D.C.’s Gallery Place neighborhood (right). But Saturday night, along with sister gang Unexpected, the crew channeled its energy into a raucous fashion show and performance event. “They say we fight all the time,” Check It member Travon Warren told the crowd at a Boys & Girls Club in Northwest. “We know we can get along with people. We want to do something better. We want people to look at us in positive ways.”

As The Washington Post reports, the event—dubbed Fashion Transformation—saw gang members dancing, acting, sharing stories and modeling their original T-shirt line, TurnItUp, along with performers from Xquisite Models.

Assistant D.C. Police Chief Diane Groomes met with Check It leaders at a youth summit last fall and tried to find common ground. The gang members talked about needing jobs and a chance, and suggested the fashion show. “They are regular teenagers with dreams and aspirations, if given the opportunity to do so,” Groomes told the Post.

The police teamed up with several local community groups, including the Getrude Stein Democratic Club, to help plan and finance the event. Patrice Lancaster, who worked with the kids almost daily, recounts how, “they would show up for practice after eight hours of working at fast-food jobs. Some would have barely eaten all day. One had a court appearance.”  Since work on the event began nearly two months ago, Groomes says authorities haven’t had any major incidents with Check It or Unexpected.

Once again fashion is changing lives for the better!