Pageant with a Cause

Contestants from around U.S. gather for THE

by Yusef Najafi
Published on May 15, 2008, 12:00am | Comments

The second annual Mr. and Miss Transgender Health Empowerment (THE) Pageant, Sunday, May 18, will include contestants from all over the United States, says Brian Watson, director of programs for the local organization that provides services to the transgender community.

''We've opened the pageant up to people who have heard about the work that we're doing ... from all over the United States,'' he says, noting particular interest from the Southwest. Watson himself will be taking part in this year's entertainment by performing ''I will be Your Friend,'' by disco drag icon Sylvester.

Oris Mays, a former Mr. Black America, is also scheduled to perform.

Contestants will be judged on ''creative wear in pink, because that's THE's color.'' says Watson. Also a category: ''executive wear, what you would wear for a job interview.'' The competition includes talent and question segments, with questions relating to HIV/AIDS. The two finalists, Mr. and Miss THE, will each win $1,000.

THE will also use the event to announce an official opening date of the Wanda Alston House, named for the first permanent mayoral liaison to the GLBT community, murdered in 2005. This transitional housing will be offered to GLBT youth, ages 16 to 24.

For more information visit www.theincdc.org