By Louva Hartwell
Edited by Cesar Montes
Phoenix â€“ The 1st Annual Miss Indian Transgender Arizona pageant took place in Phoenix on December 10, 2005. Trudie Jackson, the Outreach Coordinator for Native American Pathways at the time, planned the event as a farewell to the HIV prevention program’s transgender project (funding ran out for the program in March 2006).
In front of a packed crowd at the Native American Community Health Center, four contestants competed in the pageant. Liz Coronado (Pascua Yaqui), Krystal Mattias (Tohono O’odham), Almira Enos (Tohono O’odham), and Angel Manuel (Tohono O’odham) competed in three categories: modern, traditional, and evening wear. During the intermission, top Phoenix Native AmericanÂ transgender performers entertained the audience.
Excitement filled the room as the contestants waited for the results. The winner of the 1st Miss Indian Transgender Arizona pageant was Angel Manuel. Krystal Mattias was named 1st Runner Up. Angel also won Best Traditional Talent and Miss Congeniality.
As Miss Indian Transgender Arizona, Angel will be an advocate for the Arizona Native American LGBT community; raising public awareness on issues such as HIV prevention, wellness, and anti-LGBT hate crime.
Health issues interrupted Angel’s reign the past 4 months, but she’s recovered and ready to resume her duties. The following Q & A article will get you acquainted with Angel Manuel, Miss Indian Transgender Arizona.
Why did you want to become Miss Indian Transgender Arizona?
Have you competed in other pageants?
Yes. My first pageant was Miss Carousel, a beginner’s pageant held in Tucson, Arizona. In that pageant I placed 1st alternate out of 4 contestants.
What did you do in the Miss Indian Transgender Arizona pageant?
There were several categories in the pageant. The first was modern talent. For this I performed Shania Twain’s, “Man! I feel like a woman.” It’s upbeat, not too slow, and truly feels appropriate for me to do. Then there was the Traditional talent category, which I performed with the assistance of my siblings. For this talent, I familiarized the audience with my tribe, the Tohono O’odham Nation. I explained the meaning behind my Nation’s flag, educated the audience on the designs of our world famous basketry, and ended my presentation with a traditional Tohono O’odham song. During my singing, my 2 younger brothers and 2 youngest sisters danced with me, each holding baskets and representing the four directions (north, south, east, and west). There was also an evening gown competition and an HIV question. I think I did well in all categories.
How was the whole pageant experience for you?
The whole pageant experience was very neat and interesting to me. The reason being, I never thought I’d be able to enter a pageant that allows me to share my Native background and give others an opportunity to learn more about me on a personal level. I’m thankful that many people showed much respect for who we are and where we each came from. My fellow contestants were all very friendly and easy to get along with. We each shared with the audience a piece of our Native American cultures.
My goal, during my one year reign, is to assist and help other programs or organizations get the Native American community involved. I’m looking forward to sharing information about HIV prevention programs, offered by Native American organizations in Arizona, and sharing event information about Native American LGBT support groups or social activities that go on from month to month. In the past, I didn’t know what information was available and what groups, programs, or activities were taking place that I could have participated in. It’s great to know that there are actually things to do with other Native American LGBT people. Not many people are familiar with this information.
I believe that it’s my mission to be an ambassador and role model to other Native American Transgenders, who may feel alone and need a helping hand or someone to talk to. I’m willing to help others in any way possible. After winning this pageant, I thought about what it is I’m actually going to represent during my reign. I came to the conclusion that although my title is “Miss Indian Transgender Arizona,” I not only want to be a representative of Transgender natives, but the Native American LGBT community as a whole. I thought Native American LGBT people don’t really have ambassadors; perhaps it would be best if I represent everyone under the LGBT label as opposed to singling one group out. I say this because I know a lot of people who are close to me and not all are Transgendered so I figured why not represent everyone in the Native American LGBT community. I am willing to help and be here for all LGBT Native Americans. I wouldn’t want anyone to feel they are left out.
On what issues will you educate the public?
I will help programs, organizations, and groups to promote and educate the public on wellness and health issues affecting the Native people of Arizona. I will increase awareness about STD’s, hate crimes, protection concerns, as well as the fun and social events that might take place from time to time.
What is your educational background? What is your current career? What are your future goals with your education and career?
I attended Gila Bend High School, but left the school my senior year and moved to Sells, Arizona and graduated from Baboquivari High School (on the Tohono O’odham Nation) in 1999. After finishing at BHS, I started working for my tribe as a mentor/counselor for the summer youth job program. It was there I became interested in working in the administrative field. I always felt that meeting new people was fun because everyone that I’ve met is different and unique in their own way. Later that year, I attended a Jr. College and graduated with an Associate of Arts Degree in Business Administration/Technology in 2001. Since receiving my degree I’ve worked for my tribe in various administrative positions. My last position was as an Accounts Payable Specialist with the Tohono O’odham Nation Accounting Department. After my reign as Miss Indian Transgender Arizona, I will go back to school and work on my Bachelors Degree. I believe that once I do that, many more opportunities will be available. I look forward to working in a more challenging environment and using my skills to reach my fullest potential.
Where did you grow up, and how did you realize you were gay and/or transgendered?
I was born in Phoenix and grew up in Gila Bend, an hour southwest of Phoenix. During my years in Gila Bend I lived both in the town and on the reservation (San Lucy District), which is located just outside of Gila Bend. My grandparents had a home in the San Lucy District, so my family stayed with them at times. During my childhood is when I realized I was different and unique. In my young adult life, I knew who and what I was going to be. I say this because at such a young age, I totally knew I was gay or different from the rest of the boys in my class. I felt weird at times, but my family was supportive of me. Even my grandparents weren’t rude about the situation. To this day, most everyone in my family knew I was gay when I was a young child and that I was going to be the person I am today. If they didn’t know at least they aware of it now. I have a lot of understanding people in my family.
When did you come out and what was that experience like for you?
I’m asked this question often and I have only one way to explain it; I never really had to come out. I didn’t have to get everyone together and say, “I’m gay” or “this is what I want to be or do.” Everyone saw my lifestyle changes over the years so they just knew. It’s not like you could look at me and say, “He’s straight.” If you knew or saw me then, you’d know I was gay. I didn’t really have to say it; it was just the way it is. I was very feminine and people around town and at school just knew. I never had to sit anyone down and explain my sexuality to them. It just grew on everyone and they learned to accept it in their own way. I’m not in the closet about anything and everyone knows where I stand. It’s just every time I get asked about coming out, I only can say that, for me, it was something that took it course as I grew. As time passed, my family and friends noticed and accepted the changes I chose not to hid or keep bottled up.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
I’d like to first of all thank everyone that called, greeted me while out, and emailed me. It’s nice to know there are respectful and supportive people out there who are interested in getting to know me more. Please keep in touch with me; I truly appreciate all your support. I look forward to a fabulous year and hope that I can at least make a difference in someone’s day, week, month, or year. If you need someone to talk too or hear you out, email me.
I’d like to thank NativeOUT for establishing your organization so that LGBT Native Americans have a way of connecting and keeping updated on issues facing our people. I’m honored that you’re willing to help me promote events and inform the public on my schedule.
Thanks to Ms. Somora Dehuni! She has been such an awesome person to me. She was my dresser at both my first pageant and at Miss Indian Transgender Arizona. She truly knows how to pack and unpack a pageant backstage. She kept me calm and ready for each category.
Thanks to Natalia and Renee for lending me traditional items for this pageant. They helped me out a bunch! Also, thank you Ava, Walter, and Manny for encouraging me always. Your friendship and encouragement has helped me in many ways!
I want to congratulate and thank Liz, Krystal, and Almira, my fellow contestants, for taking part in the pageant. Taking the step to share with others who we are as Native people is something I’m proud to have done with you all. It was a blast and I’m glad that we have become friends!
Trudie Jackson – Your support and coordination of this whole event is very much appreciated! I hope that you will continue to do the best in all you do. I thank you for your friendship and your willingness to help me during this year as your first Miss Indian Transgender Arizona. I look forward to working with you and many others this year!
I’d like to thank my pageant sponsors; Kay, Sam, Marie, and Somora. Your sponsorship during Miss Carousel and this pageant helped me feel more comfortable and confident that things will run smoothly. I hope that I’ve made each of you proud. It’s nice to know that I have your continued support.
Last and most importantly, I’d like to thank my family! What would I do without you! You all have played a very important role in my life. Your acceptance and open minds have allowed me to be whom and what I am today. I love that you love me as a person and that you’re able to accept me as your oldest child, sibling, & loved one. I can’t thank you enough for all you’ve done. Words can never express the appreciation I have for each of you! Kay, Dane, Krys, Emil, Lino, Cisco, & Ash, you know that I do everything because of the inspiration you give me! I could not have asked for better siblings! Mom, Dad, Step-Dad, Uncle Martin, Dazarr, Kitty, MJ, Dominic, and Cedrick (my little star)â€¦thank you for showing much love and respect. You’ve all been with me through my first competitionâ€”your support has helped me in countless ways!Â Â
To compete in the 2nd Annual Miss Indian Transgender Arizona Pageant contact Trudie Jackson at email@example.com.
Pascua Yaqui Tribe
Master of Ceremonies
Gary Rush (Lakota)
Native American Community Health Center, Inc.
Elton Naswood (Navajo)
Project Coordinator, Red Circle Project
AIDS Project Los Angeles
Dennis Huff, Behavioral Health Director
Native American Community Health Center, Inc.
Prevention Services Specialist, Native Pathways
Native American Community Health Center, Inc.
Miss Best Traditional Talent
1st Runner Up
2005 Miss Indian Transgender Arizona
Diane Mitchell (Paiute)
Inter-Tribal Council of Arizona
|Arizona Human Rights Foundation
P.O. Box 25044
Phoenix, AZ 85002-5044
Office of HIV/AIDS
Inter Tribal Council of Arizona, Inc.
Native Vision Tobacco Program
Movies on Central
4700 North Central Ave. , Suite 121
Phoenix, AZÂ 85012
Drumbeat Indian Arts, Inc.
Jo Bear Claw Jewelry Repair
Cruisin’ on 7th Club
Red Circle Project
Louva Hartwell (Navajo)