By Louva Hartwell
Phoenix – Angel Manuel gave up the 2006 Miss Indian Transgender Arizona crown in exchange for the 2007 crown. When the pageant started at 7pm the Mistress of Ceremonies, Mattee Jim, announced “unfortunately with contestants, we have none. So we want give you your money’s worth so we are going to have some performances for you.” Several contestants confirmed to participate, but failed to show up. Mattee promised the event would be fun, informative, provide HIV/AIDS awareness, and be representative of the Native transgender community.
Performances by Samora Dehuni, Victoria, Miss Indian ASU Kimi Serna, and Angel Manuel entertained the audience. Isadore Boni spoke about living with AIDS, enduring stigma, and his experiences since coming out as gay and HIV positive.
Miss Indian ASU, Kimi Serna, said of the pageant, “What I think is…the most important component in this..is recognizing that the transgender community…have a role, that they are equally recognized in our communities, that we no longer have to discriminate within our own tribe and we need to recognize that they have a role in ceremony just as much as every man woman and child.” She also commended Angel for taking on the title for another year.
Angel gave her farewell speech for her 2006 crown and dedicated a performance to her family. She moved the audience to tears as she gracefully signed the words of the song “Wind Beneath My Wings,” by Bette Midler. Graciously accepting another year as Miss Indian Transgender Arizona, Angel thanked everyone for their support and said of her 2007 reign, “I’m going to do this to the best of my ability.”
Next year the 3rd Annual Miss Indian Transgender Arizona pageant will take place in the four corners area of Arizona, Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico.