Guam was the first U.S. territory to pass marriage equality legislation. Yet, despite that seeming progress, many in America’s most distant territory in the Western Pacific still don’t get what equality is about.
Signs of Progress
Recently, the island elected its first woman governor and her running mate, the first open and out, allegedly ‘proud’ gay man as her lieutenant governor. Yet, then the critically important government agency Guam Visitor’s Bureau (GVB) decided for the first time to participate in a major LGBT Pride event, Tokyo Pride 2019. However, they bypassed every single gay and lesbian on the island, and scores of LGBTQI performing artists, students, and business people from our ranks, to send a cisgender beauty queen with no connection to the LGBTQI community of Guam as a representative for our community.
The organizer of the island’s first annual Pride event is a transgender woman, appointed by the governor to head the revitalization effort of the island’s capital. Lasia Casil also recently ran for senator in last year’s election, hoping to use the position to create awareness and build on the success of Guam Pride and put Guam on the map as an LGBTQI tourist destination. She called out the tourism agency for their egregious choice in representation for the LGBTQI community, and despite thousands of people discussing the topic in the past two weeks, she, and the LGBTQI community, continue to be ignored by the GVB management and the island’s gay lieutenant governor.
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A Questionable Decision
The decision by Guam Visitors Bureau management to send a straight girl beauty queen to Tokyo Pride to represent the island’s LGBTQIA community is a slap in the face, and nothing less than thinly-veiled bigotry that exposes the contempt GVB president Pilar Laguaña and vice president Bobby Alvarez have for Guam’s gay community. Their prideful refusal to correct this epic failure reinforces their painful prejudice against island gays and lesbians.
In the struggle for equality and acceptance, no embattled minority community should stand alone in this day and age. Allies help to us create a more inclusive, understanding environment for all in the LGBT community, through their personal and professional lives.
However, it should be the goal of our “friends” to elevate, not usurp or replace, our voices.
Without googling the term, does the GVB management and cisgendered beauty queen Athena McNinch even know – or care – what Stonewall was, and is, to the LGBTQ community and Pride?
Do they know, or have any of them even ever considered, for more than a fleeting instance, that Pride is more than one special week and not just about a parade?
Does GVB management and the beauty queen understand that Pride is about life and the opportunity some people have while others can only watch from the sidelines, wishing they could have true and equal freedom, without fear of speaking up and out?
More Questions for the Beauty Queen
Besides strutting her stuff in a pound or two of makeup and a ton of sequins on a runway, what shared experiences and struggles does this pageant product for the straight world share with Guam or Tokyo’s LGBTQ? What does she offer to the oppressed and heavily marginalized LGBTQ community in Tokyo? On Guam?
Does she even know, is anyone at GVB aware, that Japan – the primary market for Guam visitors – has elected its first transgender assemblywoman, who she is and where she is from? What that woman’s goals are?
Do the willfully ignorant dolts at GVB know about Japan’s abusive and perverted transgender law? Does our beauty queen understand and relate to the ongoing extreme discrimination all over the world, including our own nation, that subjects transmen and women to unabated violence and disproportionate rates of murder, or the criminalization of their identities?
No? So what are they actually trying to say by sending a straight beauty queen to Tokyo Pride, instead of a real and authentic voice from the LGBTQ community?
The Value of Allies
No struggle for civil rights can thrive without the support of allies. And let’s not be mistaken, the fight for LGBT rights is a fight for civil rights. Having allies can make all the difference.
Straight allies can speak hard truths to the straight and cisgender community without the perceived agenda often attributed to the same message when it comes from a member of the LGBT community.
But it is an insult to think they can replace our own voices within our own community events.
GVB’s mind-numbing decision discounts and excludes each and every voice in Guam’s LGBTQ community. If beauty queen Athena McNinch, who I hear is a fine person, is truly an ally of the LGBTQ community on Guam, she would use her voice to set GVB straight (no pun intended) and decline to go to Tokyo Pride, in favor of sending authentic and real representation from the island’s LGBTQ community.
The above statement represents the point of view of its author and not necessarily that of the Metrosource.
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Last modified: May 13, 2019