Photo by Keith Thorpe, Peninsula Daily News
Ann Grogan, left, a custom corset maker from San Francisco, gives Elika Sicire of Portland a fashion tip Wednesday. Grogan taught a seminar on style and fashion at the Esprit 2006 convention at the Red Lion Hotel in Port Angeles.
Transgender visitors gussy up for Esprit Gala
Thursday May 18, 2006
Elika Sicire decided that the time was right for her to make a change.
"I've been a man for 63 years," the retired school teacher from Portland, Ore., said Wednesday.
"Now I get to play around."
So when Sicire heard about the Esprit Gala, a gathering held annually at the Red Lion Hotel for those who want to better understand and express their true selves, she didn't hesitate to sign herself -- and her girlfriend -- up for the week.
"I said, 'I'm going, I don't care what it costs, I'm going.'"
Esprit has been held at the Red Lion since the convention's inception 17 years ago.
The weeklong meeting began with more than 80 on Sunday, but is expected to double by the end of the week, said Tori Phillips, an Esprit organizer from British Columbia.
Although many of the conventioneers meet up in Port Angeles to shop, socialize, make new friends and reconnect with old ones, Sicire also came for the educational seminars.
The informal classes run the gamut from information on gender reassignment surgery to self-defense.
'Basics of Style, Fashion'
On Wednesday, Sicire and more than a dozen other gala-goers attended a talk called "The Basics of Style and Fashion" given by Ann Grogan, a custom corset maker from San Francisco.
Grogan offered tips on not just "passing" in society as a woman, but some pieces of advice that every woman may hear from the time she is born -- but those born as males wouldn't necessarily get.
"Every little girl that grows up next to her mother's knee is told to stand up straight," Grogan said.
"Fashion begins with good posture."
The class also offered color tips and advice on how to choose clothes that de-emphasize broad shoulders and thick necks.
It was right up Sicire's alley.
"This is what I wanted to learn," she said. "My style-sense is almost nonexistent."
Tori, who sat in on Grogan's seminar, said that transgendered people have to learn to become the person they are inside.
Children are often socialized to fit into rigid gender boundaries, she said.
A lifetime of socialization can't be undone overnight. It's a process, she said.
"It's not what we choose, it's what we are," she said.
Dance open to public
Kari, 44, from Oregon attended Grogan's seminar as well.
Although she had picked up some from watching her ex-wife, she learned a few things from Grogan.
"It filled in the gaps," she said.
On Friday and Saturday Esprit-goers will host a dance open to the public at the Red Lion Hotel, 221 N. Lincoln St.
The dances go from 9 p.m. until midnight. The cost is $5 at the door, and proceeds go to Hospice of Clallam County.
Esprit features two fun shows
Friday May 19, 2006
For those with tailfeathers and the unstoppable urge to shake them, your cup runneth over.
Esprit 2006, the perennial gathering of transgenders that has made Port Angeles its yearly destination for socializing, networking and beauty tips, will be hosting two events open to the public with proceeds benefiting Hospice of Clallam County.
Tonight and Saturday night, the Elks Naval Lodge at 131 E. First St. in Port Angeles will host the shows.
(A story Wednesday in the Peninsula Daily News incorrectly listed the venue as the Red Lion Hotel.)
The shows start at 8 p.m. and finish at midnight. The charge for both nights is $5.
"One-hundred percent goes to hospice," said Suzanne Adams of Seattle, a long time Esprit-goer.
The convention traditionally stages fund-raisers for the organization that provides emotional and spiritual comfort for terminally ill people in Clallam County.
Tonight's program begins at 8 with a talent show featuring eight "guest stars."
The theme of the talent showcase is the Tranny Home Companion, a transgender tribute to the National Public Radio show of a similar name.
"A highly entertaining and very amateur night of drag and cross dressing."
"A highly entertaining and very amateur night of drag and cross dressing," said Debra Darling, an organizer of the events who also holds the title of "self-appointed grand princess."
At 9 p.m., the dancing will begin in earnest when the "mostly transgender" rock band Glitter Bitch and the Social Hussies takes the stage to crank out covers stretching back to the 1960s.
On Saturday night, The Great Arnaldo, a "drag chanteuse," will kick things off at 8 p.m. with a Cole Porter Vegas review.
At 9 p.m. the Tacoma-based surf rock band, The Woodies, will finish the night off.
Also in town are The Nasty Habits, a Seattle-based, transgender rock group whose repertoire goes back three decades and covers glam, punk and pop.
The Nasty Habits will play Friday at Crazy Fish, Baja and Beyond at 229 W First St.
The show starts at 9 p.m.
On Saturday, they will be at The Landing's Restaurant at 115 E. Railroad Ave. The show starts at 9 p.m.
Gay proclamation likely to be OK'd
Photo by Evan Cael, Peninsula Daily News
Kellie Ragan, chairwoman of Pride 2006, authored the proclamation going before the Jefferson County commissioners meeting Monday morning.
Sunday May 21, 2006
A county document proclaiming June as Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month will likely be passed 2-1 at Monday's county commissioners' meeting.
And the county proclamation's author says it will simply recognize a portion of the community for its contributions.
Kellie Ragan, a county Health Department employee and chair of a June 17 event known as North Olympic Peninsula Pride 2006, said she wrote the proclamation and brought it to the commissioners not to politicize gay pride, but to nurture and strengthen the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and questioning community of the North Olympic Peninsula.
"It's really a celebration of who we are and the contributions we've made," said Ragan just before marching in Saturday's Rhododendron Festival Grand Parade in Port Townsend.
"We're asking the city and the county to recognize parts of the population that are unique in and of themselves."
2-1 partisan split
Commissioners Phil John- son, D-Port Townsend, and David Sullivan, D-Cape George, last week said they will vote for the proclamation.
But Pat Rodgers of Brinnon, the only Republican commissioner on the board, said he will vote against it.
"As a Christian, I believe it's not for us to judge people, and we are not in a position to underwrite them," Rodgers told the Peninsula Daily News last week.
"It's not the business of any county government," Rodgers said.
Ragan said one out of 10 people in the community identify themselves as either gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or questioning, and that many in of them have traditionally been oppressed or have experienced prejudice.
She said fostering connections in a rural community like Jefferson County's can be more difficult than in a metropolitan area, which is why Monday's proclamation is important.
Ragan said she, along with others who identify themselves as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, will attend the commissioners' meeting Monday to show their support for the document.
'Speak out in support'
Daniel Nidzgorski, 27, of Port Townsend, who identified himself as gay, said he will attend the meeting.
Nidzgorski said too often in the past, politicians have gone " I on record attacking the gay community, which acts to condone discrimination and even violence.
"It would be really nice to hear someone speak out in support of us," he said.
"We're an important part of this community as well, just like everyone else."
"The proclamation is purely an affirmation. It's not creating an us-them. It's creating an 'all of us together.'"
Ragan said the proclamation promotes support for the June 17 Pride 2006 observance, in which various events will be geared toward education and celebration of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community.
The event is sponsored by Peninsula Pride Alliance.
Ragan said local businesses have been extremely supportive in helping stage the second annual event.
"Our goal is to build community," said Ragan.
Gay measure is approved
Photo by Evan Cael, Peninsula Daily News
Jefferson County gay community members and two county commissioners celebrate approval of June being proclaimed Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Month. From left are Mena Quilici, Commissioner Phil Johnson, Cheron Dudley, Sara Lundin, Kellie Ragan, Commissioner David Sullivan and Pat Hartman.
| Tuesday May 23, 2006
By Evan Cael
Peninsula Daily News
Some cheered Monday as two of the three Jefferson County commissioners voted to approve a proclamation making June Gay, Lesbian and Transgender Month in the county.
Moments before, others applauded the reasoning of Commissioner Pat Rodgers, R-Brinnon, who voted against the proclamation.
"While I do agree we don't want discrimination, I don't think there is discrimination in the county," Rodgers said.
He described the proclamation as divisive.
Commissioner David Sullivan, D-Cape George, and Phil Johnson, D-Port Townsend, said they were happy the proclamation was passed because it was important that everybody in Jefferson County feel welcome.
"It's about tolerance and acceptance," Sullivan said.
"When you have a group who has experienced a high level of fear and prejudice, they deserve this kind of support."
The proclamation states: "The North Olympic Peninsula's Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning communities continue to make significant contributions to the fabric of our region.
"Jefferson County applauds the pride and commitment of our region's multitalented and diverse communities and honors the contributions to the stability and well being of our region made by each of them."
It also says the county "believes in equal rights for all people and speaking out against intolerance and discrimination and fighting tirelessly to break down the walls of fear and prejudice."
Disagrees with it
Treva Worthington of Quilcene said at the meeting in commissioners' chambers that she disagrees with the proclamation because she believes in traditional marriage because "God says so."
She added: "Those people have every right that we have. I feel like we were railroaded."
The proclamation was approved at the beginning of the meeting without public comment.
Later, Connie Rosenquist of Port Townsend stood to speak her mind about the proclamation.
"Because of the moral controversy surrounding the sexual behaviors of this particular group of people, honoring them as a group identified by those behaviors seems in-your-face, or should I say, a slap in the face," said Rosenquist.
"It does look an awful lot like you are so tolerant that you can't say no to a bad idea," she continued, "or that you are improperly using your public platform to shove personal agendas."
Kellie Ragan, county Public Health employee and author of the proclamation, said her motivation is to build community.
She said the gay community has experienced discrimination, which makes the proclamation important.
"Who would have thought a proclamation could cause so much commotion?" Ragan asked.
Friday/Saturday May 26/27, 2006
Was gay proclamation too one-sided?
By Martha Ireland
Forty years ago come Sunday, my last name changed from McKeeth to Ireland.
Dale was 23. I was not quite 19.
When we announced our brief engagement a month earlier, my mother confessed she thought dale was "getting the short end of the stick."
A few months after our modest wedding, my father-in-law thanked me for putting up with his son and promised Dale would mellow with age.
Obviously, neither of us ever had in-law trouble.
In time, we matured to where our own parents also thought well of us.
While we put up with one another's foibles and failings, shortcomings, and excesses, my sister traded in four hustands -- looking for someone better and always finding someone worse.
Meanwhile, Dale's cousin, who had a role in introducing us, swapped spouses so often we lost track.
Although we weathered similar life circumstances and spousal imperfections, divorce was never an option. Grandmother McKeeth, who wed in 1900, once confided that if divorce had been as easy and acceptable in her day as in ours, she would have left Granddad early on.
My sister took that as approval of her divorces.
I took it as testimony that it was worth sticking around through hard times.
Both interpretations worked, although my sister's path to single contentment was far more traumatic than my matrimonial journey.
Perseverance and tolerance work best when practiced by both parties.
That's true in non-marital relationships too.
Calls for tolerance are in vogue, but they're often once-sided.
For example, on Monday, Jefferson Countey Commissioner David Sullivan, D-Cape George, cited "tolerance and acceptance," as the reason he and Phil Johnson, D-Port Townsend, proclaimed June as "Gay, Lesbian and Transgender Month" in Jefferson County.
Commissioner Pat Rodgers, R-Brinnon, voted against the proclamation, finding it divisive and intolerant of traditional views.
Bible-directed Christians such as Rogers and myself cannot approve of those lifestyles any more than we can approve of heterosexual fornication or adultery.
Disapproval doesn't prevent us from tolerating -- often even liking and enjoying -- individuals such as my gay uncle, lesbian former coworkers and gay clients.
However, proclamations calling for us to celebrate their lifestyles are highly intolerant of our beliefs.
They demand not just our toleration but our acceptance and even advocacy.
The intolernace of such one-sided tolerance (you tolerate me, but I won't tolerate you) permeates ultra-serious national and international issues.
Militant Islam was Kaj Ahlberg's topic at a Tuesday evening meeting in Port Angeles, hosted by the Republican Women of Clallam County.
The former New Yorker watched the World TRade Center crumble, as it happened, from his window on Sept. 11, 2001.
That experience led Ahlberg to move h is young family cross-country (they settled in Port Angeles three years ago) and motivated him to undertake extensive research into militant Islam.
Ahlberg discovered an unsettling history leading to present-day Islamist intolerance, demands and violence.
In response, Western civilization attempts to placate Islam while also advocating tolerance of a host of other beliefs and behaviors, such as those fostered by the Jefferson County proclamation.
Islam is far from being the only religion that condemns the gay/lesbian lifestyle.
However, Christians are commanded to hate the sin but love the sinner.
In stark contrast, militant Islam orders its followers to "strike off the heads" of sinners, Ahlberg noted.
Clallam County Administrator Dan Englebertson said the county has not received a request that Clallam commissioners approve a similar resolution that would proclaim a "Gay, Lesbian and Transgender Month."
"It's a board issue," he said.
Martha Ireland was Clallam County commissioner from 1996 to 1999.
Intention of action on gays shows we're your neighbors
Friday/Saturday May 26/27, 2006
By Kellie Ragan
The Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month proclamation that was recently signed by Jefferson County Commisioners David Sullivan and Phil Johnson is about recognizing a segment of the population of the county.
The individuals who make up the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community of the North Olympic Peninsula enhance our region's richness.
Pride 2006 is about honoring our common ground and celebrating our uniqueness.
We are parents, children, grandparents, partners, workers, executives, artists, advocates, students, farmers, chefs, baristas, healthcare providers.
We are of many faiths. And we are proud!
We welcome all to join us celebrating gay pride in downtown Port Townsend at North Olympic Peninsula Pride 2006 on Saturday, June 17.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Kellie Ragan is a Jefferson County resident who authored the proclamation and chairs Pride 2006.
Pride 2006 will feature a health and business fair, a pride rally, live entertainment, food and discussion in downtown PT on June 17.
It will include a "Fantasy Ball" featuring "Juana Banana and her Bevy of Drag Divas."
Ragan co-chairs Peninsula Pride Alliance, the event sponsor. The group's Web site is www.peninsulapridealliance.org.
Friday June 16, 2006
Stop 'unfriendly' talk about gender choices
Rarely a day passes on the North Olympic Peninsula when I am not offended by the homophobic comments of my community members.
From the bus to the schools to the soccer field, my ears ache from derogatory use of the term gay.
I have yet to see a gay color dating another gay color of the same sex.
I haven't witnessed gay music or gay homework enging in any "queer" behavior.
This sort of homophobia makes our community uncomfortable for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender adults and is downright unsafe for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, questioning yough.
Parents, kids, teachers, and community members, please be an ally and end this unfriendly language.
Sunday June 18, 2006
Bigoted about gays?
PDN columnist Martha Ireland tells us in her May 26 column, ("Was gay proclamation too one-sided?") that a Jefferson County proclamation promoting tolerance and acceptance for gay, lesbian, and transgender citizens is itself intolerant.
She writes, "...proclamations calling for us to celebrate their lifestyles are highly intolerant of our beliefs."
The proclamation makes no mention that I cound find of lifestyles, although it does indeed call for us to celebrate Gay Pride Month.
The beliefs being treated with what Ms. Ireland considers intolerance are those of "Bible-directed Christians."
So, according to Ms. Ireland, it is intolerant to condemn intolerance; it is disrespectful to promote respect; it is discriminatory to oppose discrimination.
| She must be quite a fan of the "newspeak"
that George Orwell wrote of in his book, 1984.
She goes on to assure us that, to paraphrase, some of her best friends are gay.
She only hates the sin, she says, not the sinner.
I bet her gay friends really appreciate that distinction.
What we seem to have is a prominent member (presumably) of the vastly dominant sexual majority who finds it intolerant for a government not to respect her beliefs about homosexuals.
It used to be that the vastly dominant racial majority found it intolerable to grant equal rights to black people.
Lots of "Bible-directed Christians" once justified their bigotry on the basis of their religion.
I guess things haven't changed much.
Monday June 19, 2006
We love our gay son
The writer of the June 1 letter to Peninsula Voices, "Jeffco's 'deviants,'" should read the governor's April 13 proclamation.
Does the writer think the governor is deviant, also?
Or that the majority of the citizens of our state are deviant?
I believe the writer is the deviant in this case.
How long has the writer been "picking his nose?"
What other obnoxious habits does he have?
Jefferson County commissioners had the courage to stand up and be heard [in making June Gay, Lesbian,and Transgender Month].
Now it is Clallam County's turn to stand up and be heard.
It is time for all people of good conscience to speak up and let the bigots know that they are a minority, and their beliefs are not valid in a true diverse society that values equality for everyone.
My wife and I love our gay son for who he is.
The gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender citizens of this state enrich and foster the human spirit, and understanding and appreciation for the differences that enrich us all.
Homophobia, racism, religious fanaticism, religious intolerance, bigotry, and hypocrisy are what is wrong in the world today.
Killing, genocide, regime-change by using force to accomplish one's agenda doesn't work and never has.
The letter writer should wake up, join the human race and help bring an end to all the hatred in the world.
Music that's far from a drag
Photo by Steve Mullensky, Peninsula Daily News
Muriel Fisher, left, and Alec MacDonald, right, introduce fiddle player Wendy MacIssac before a near sell-out audience Friday night for Slighe nan Gaidheal, the Fellowship of the Gaels, a celebration of the Gaelic at Wheeler Theater in Fort Worden State Park.
[Esprit note: this reported event was not associated with Esprit but is included here because of the obvious topical connection.]