Peninsula Daily News
PORT ANGELES - Members of the public are invited to join the 150 people who are attending the 2009 Esprit Gala, the annual transgender conference held in Port Angeles each year, at two events this weekend.
The talent contest is set for 8 p.m. today at the Elks Lodge. It will be followed by the Dance with the Delta Queens, said Barbara Anne Love, who is on the 2009 Esprit Committee.
On Saturday, dancing to the band, The Walrus, will be open to the public at the Elks Lodge.
This year's event has attracted visitors from all over the country and world. "We have 37 new attendees," Love said. "We are very happy because 150 is much more than we expected in this kind of economy.
"We have people from British Columbia, one from Belgium, Ohio - all over the place."
Love said that this year, because of the poor economy, some weren't showing up for the entire week but instead arrived Wednesday for the conference, based at the Red Lion Hotel, which will run through Saturday.
"We've seen that some people are just coming for the end of the week, which is just fine as well," Love said.
The daily educational classes are open to the public, but guests must register. For a full schedule, visit the Web site at www.espritconf.com.
By Paige Dickerson
PORT ANGELES - The annual transgender conference Esprit Gala will kick off Sunday, with about 160 people coming to Port Angeles from throughout the United States, as well as Canada and Europe.
The conference, which has been held in Port Angeles since 1990, will include classes, shopping and socializing.
Scheduled from Sunday through May 17, it will be centered at the Red Lion Hotel, 221 N. Lincoln St., Port Angeles.
Barbara Anne Love, who is on the Esprit Gala planning committee, said the number of requests for scholarships has gone up this year, a fact attributed to the economy.
"We increased the number of scholarships we offered, the time line they were offered on," Love said.
"We also this year debuted the ride share part of our forum, so maybe that will help people who need to get around the Hood Canal."
Several events next week are open to the public. They include:
Conference participants can choose among a variety of classes in clothing, makeup and other topics, as well as several tours.
Two doctors also will attend the conference to discuss feminization of the masculine face and gender reassignment surgery.
Participants can take a trip on the MV Coho to Victoria for high tea at the Fairmont Empress Hotel, join a walking tour of Port Angeles artwork, visit area wineries and shop in both Port Angeles and Port Townsend.
The group has a long-standing support for the community, Love said. "We have a clothing exchange where members bring clothing that they don't need anymore," Love said. "Newcomers can take for free. "Many times it is difficult to get clothing in odd sizes or sometimes someone who is a newcomer might be embarrassed to try and go shopping, so they can take it for free.
"Then all of the clothing that is left at the end we donate to Goodwill in Port Angeles."
The group also donates money raised through a raffle to the Volunteer Hospice of Clallam County.
"We try to give back into the community," Love said. "We also are obviously there shopping and going to restaurants in town, so that is another way that we give back economically to the community that embraces us for the event every year."