▶ Watch Video: Leyna Bloom makes history with Sports Illustrated swimsuit cover

Leyna Bloom, the

Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue featuring cover model Leyna Bloom, on sale July 22, 2021. More at swimsuit.si.com.

Yu Tsai/Sports Illustrated

The 30-year-old model is part of a diverse ballroom community filled with dancers, designers and many others immersed in imagination and creativity. It’s a community that has even helped her through homelessness when she moved to New York City as a teenager. Today she works to ensure her community is not erased.

“I just want to bring a face to this community,” Bloom explains. “I wanted to represent my community and not just sensationalize it or fetishize it and that’s rooted in every single thing I do. How can I get out there and be the representation I want to see in the world?”

When entering the industry, Bloom said she understood that there would be people who would accept her and others who would refuse to accept her for who she is. But then there are also those who may fall in the middle and not know what to think or feel.

“I always want to target myself to that audience,” Bloom told CBSN. “I just want them to know, hey, if you give me a chance to sit down and have a conversation with you regardless of if you agree or disagree, we’re humans and communicating, and that is all that is. The most important thing is communication.”

Editor’s note: The headline on this story has been updated to correct the wording in the quotation.