Back to “near normal” and that means Fiesta Time in my bride’s small village, San Ignacio. Nothing marks the joy of the Fiesta like the resumption of the Miss Gay Ladyboy Beauty Pageant. I have once again been given the honor of sitting on the judges panel of this incredible event.
For us foreigners, especially Americans, it is a bit hard to grasp how accepted and loved the TG community is. How are they such an integral part of this small, isolated extremely conservative Catholic community? The answer in the Bible, love one another and don’t judge, pretty simple, right?
As the judges were seated, the basketball quart/community center started to fill, over 500 people from seniors to children crowded the barrier to see the ladies. Remember this is a village of less than one thousand people.
As the long list of degrees and offices were read for each of the other four judges, I knew I was out classed: a high ranking Police woman, multiple degreed business owner, a college instructor, a corporate CEO and me.
The first event was the Production Number, where all the contestants dance together in a well-choreographed number. Each wearing a unique but color coordinated gown. As they made their first pass by the judge’s tables, I thought wow this is not going to be easy.
The next event was the Traditional Costume class. Contestants wore a variety of historically and locally inspired dress. Two took on the Warrior Princess look, complete with spears.
The eyes all googled at the next round, the swimsuit event. Each lady paraded in skimpy bikini’s, balancing on high heels that defied gravity and all with grace and class. At this stage we not only looked but heard from the ladies, each drawing a simple word to elaborate on for forty-five seconds. No soft responses to the words such as “gender equality” “pollution” “economic recovery” was drawn.
The final event in the opening segment was the Evening Gown class. One by one these beautiful ladies emerged decked out for the Grand Ball, stunning dresses and style. At this stage the scores were tallied as the ladies anxiously waiting in the staggering heat to see who made the finals.
During the wait the minor awards were given out, best in each category. This is my favorite part. Each year I give out the Brian’s Choice Award, a cash prize for the one I pick for the most heart. I started this award 3 pageants ago when I saw two ladies who clearly had little chance of winning, one a bit chubby the other much older than usual. I saw these ladies give it their all, never missed a step, pranced with as much pride and confidence as any winner could. This year I picked a lady who, albeit not built like one might picture a beaty queen, glowed with pride and confidence, a true champion. She shed a tear when I handed her the award, so did I.
Now the big moment when the five finalists are chosen. Honestly, I was not sure which they might be, had 2 for sures and one probably, but was surprised by 2, it was all that close. Now we had five!
At this stage each candidate draws a judge’s name and that judge pitches a hard ball question for them. The topics were intense and revealing. First one, “who did you vote for in the presidential election” without skipping a beat the lady said her vote went to Leni, who lost, but she now gives here complete support and love to Marcos (BBM) and hopes for his success and support for the LGBTQ community—Bang! Other topics were marriage equality, “if you were president what legislation would you make for the Gay community” and abortion.
I was last. i have watched a couple neighbor girls grow up in the 6 years I have known them, but not seen them in 3 years, one now clearly feminam one decidedly masculine all with the love of the village and parents. So I asked, “you have a eleven or twelve year old nephew who comes to you and says “I don’t feel right as a boy, I think I am a girl, what should I do?”
I could not have picked a better question, the last lady beamed and said “well my twelve year old nephew is sitting right there! If he were to ask me this question I would –and she clearly gets excited – tell him to be who he wants to be and be the best he can be. I would tell him to live his life with freedom”. She went on, I am the only male born to a family, my dad is a Police Officer, my mom is standing right there, they all love and support me and who I am. The crowd goes wild with cheers, I gave her the highest marks.
During the next break the 2018 Miss Gay San Ignacio winner comes out in a stunning gown, topped off with the official crown. Wow I gave her that crown. It was good to see her again and still looking dazzling. The Girls came back out on the stage donning yet another costume change.
Now the moment of truth, five stunning brilliant ladies standing on the stage with bated breath. 4th Runner up, (which was sponsored by my dear friend Laura McKee from back in the USA) then 3rd, then 2nd down to two. The Runner up is announced, the only local gal, the crowd screams with joy. Then I join the Barangay Captain, the highest ranking official, to give the crown to the 2022 Miss Gay San Ignacio.
After the event as the girls are changing, a nice lady approaches me. I am the mother of the winner, the one you pitched your question to. In her limited English she inadvertently crossed her pronouns in a way that told the whole story. “That is my son, she is the only son out of four children, and I am so proud of her. Her father is a Policeman, and he loves his son and is proud of her as well.”
In previous blogs about my experiences with the Ladyboys I have grown to love and respect, I talk about their courage and bravery, it is profound. I have compared their lives to the Star Trek fable where Capt. Kirk takes the Koybayashi Maru simulator test with no possible way to succeed. He is given a no-win scenario, so he sneaks in the simulator and changes the program to win and comes out a hero. That is exactly what these ladies have down. They are born with a woman’s mind and soul in a male body, so they changed the test and the outcome, and all came out like Capt James T Kirk, winners all!