Saturday, January 10, 2009

Dominican Republic: Ashley Schneider takes the crown

A follow up to a story from last year...

On the early, early morning of December 28th, 22 year-old Ashley Schneider was crowned Miss Rainbow International Gay 2008 at an annual beauty pageant ceremony which took place at the Tailú Bar bar in the Dominican Republic city of Santiago.

José Izquierdo, the Governor of the Province of Santiago, had threatened to shut down the event until he was reminded that the site was a private space and that he did not have any jurisdiction over the event. It still didn't stop him or others from expressing their displeasure with the event.

I know what you are thinking: It's a drag show! At a gay bar!! What's the big deal? Well, this is the Dominican Republic where things like these become national news. Which is exactly what happened here.

On November 27th the local assembly approved by majority vote a statement of censure against the beauty contest saying that it "attempted against the moral and good customs of the Santiago society" (El Caribe).

The censure echoed statements that the Reverend Ezequiel Molina made on the Dagastan television show the night before the event (La Información).
"The beauty contest among homosexuals and marriages between persons of the same gender constitute an aberration, an attempt against the Christian and moral values and an affront to the family," he said.

Reverend Molina also riled against 'carnal union' between members of the same sex and against adoption rights for gays although it is unclear whether any weddings or adoptions took place at the Tailú Bar on the night the event took place. For some reason I have a feeling the reverend pulled out his laundry list of objections against the gays having been given a media platform.

Security at the event was strict. Cameras were banned and attendees were searched for weapons and asked for ID. Organizers feared that the local authorities might use any excuse to shut down and possibly even send in underage attendees to give them cause for a search but the event went on smoothly.

A few people interested in watching the contest walked away from the door criticizing the $20 to $35 dollar ticket price as being too high and others walked away when they saw the dozens of television cameras shooting footage of people entering the bar (Clave Digital).

The owners of the club as well as a number of VIP guests called for the recognition of LGBT rights in the Dominican Republic and said that the event should have never have been the center of such media attention and controversy. They also said that they hoped that the outcome had shown that it was not something that challenged the morals of society nor something that was done in poor taste.

Clave Digital has a multimedia page with lots of photos here.

Below, an eliminatory event that took place a month before the Crowning (loooove the bachata techno mix they used):

...and coverage from the local Telemundo station made available on YouTube by hottie reporter Fausto Cruz after the new Queen was announced.

1 comment:

Monica Roberts said...

Thanks for the reminder that some GLBT people in various countries go through hell just to be who they are.