11.25.2018

Miss Universe Spain 2018 Ángela Ponce Still Faces Anti-Trans Backlash


The Miss Universe pageant takes place on 17 December in Bangkok, Thailand

Despite being crown Miss Universe Spain, Ángela Ponce still faces anti-trans backlash
Ángela Ponce, Miss Universe Spain
















Ángela Ponce of Spain became the first trans women to be crowned Miss Universe back in June. Despite this trailblazing win, Ponce is still the subject of anti-trans bigotry in the media and online.

Ponce’s win

‘I have to win not just for me but for all the people in Spain and around the world so the situation changes. Not just for the LGBTI collective but for all of humanity. I’m not just another Miss Universe candidate who wants world peace; I have a very powerful message of tolerance, hope, respect, love for oneself and others. I want to do all this under the Spanish flag,’ Ponce told EL PAÍS fashion magazine S Moda after winning the title.
At that time, though, Ponce didn’t seem to expect the harassment that would be thrown her way.

Backlash

Since her win, Ponce has been the topic of anti-trans media reports throughout Latin America. They have gone so far as to show childhood photos of Ponce, as well as photos of her without makeup. Numerous television programs in Mexico, Argentina, and Venezuela have spent hours on the subject of Ponce, debating whether or not she’s truly a woman.
Twitter users added fuel to the fire by sharing memes questioning Ponce’s femininity and her right to compete in the pageant.
Other Miss Universe contestants, both former and current, have also made comments about Ponce to the press.
‘They may call me old fashioned but I think there should be a competition, which already exists, for transgender people and another for girls,’ Vivian Sleiman, Miss Venezuela 2001, recently said.
‘I believe that a beauty pageant like Miss Universe is for women who are born women,’ echoed Valeria Morales, Miss Colombia. ‘And I believe that for her it will also be a disadvantage. And so we’ll have to respect it but not agree with it.’
Morales will be competing against Ponce in this year’s Miss Universe pageant, taking place on 17 December in Bangkok, Thailand.

Being the Bigger Person

Despite all this hatred, Ponce remained strong and positive, seemingly taking the higher road.
‘I respect her [Morales] and I respect that that is her opinion, but I don’t want to go to Miss Universe with any prejudice against her or any other colleague,’ Ponce responded on Instagram.
‘My goal is to make people aware of my reality and to talk a little to the world about the lack of education on diversity. An important factor that without doubt leads to so much bullying, prejudice and violence. I ask for respect for both my fellow competitor Valeria Morales and for myself.’

Source: Gay Star News, 11/25/2018

11.09.2018

Venezuela Wins Its 8th Miss International Crown



Mariem Velazco of Venezuela was crowned Miss International 2018 on Friday, November 9,  at Tokyo Dome City Hall in Tokyo, Japan. Mariem was crowned on her 20th birthday by the outgoing Miss International Kevin Lilliana of Indonesia. Her victory marks Venezuela's eighth Miss International crown. The finale lasted for over five hours.


 Velazco's court includes first runner-up Ahtisa Manalo of the Philippines, second runner-up Reabetswe Sechoaro of South Africa (who was also awarded Miss International Africa title), third runner-up Bianca Tirsin of Romania, and fourth runner-up Anabella Castro Sierra of Colombia. Completing the top 8 were the delegates from Ecuador, Spain and Japan. Rounding up the top 15 were the candidates from Australia, Indonesia, Madagascar, Mexico, Paraguay, Thailand and Ukraine.


Photo credit: Facebook

11.08.2018

Miss Earth 2018 Candidates Allege Sexual Harassment


Miss Earth-Canada Jaime Yvonne Vandenberg, Miss Earth-England Abbey-Anne Gyles-Brown, and Miss Earth-Guam Emma Mae Sheedy


Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 8) — Three candidates of Miss Earth 2018 bravely came forward to reveal their experiences of sexual harassment involving a sponsor during the international beauty pageant, which was recently concluded in the Philippines.

Miss Earth Canada Jaime Yvonne Vandenberg, Miss Earth England Abbey-Anne Gyles-Brown, and Miss Earth Guam Emma Mae Sheedy all shared how excited they were to compete and to enjoy the Philippines, but it was ruined by a pageant sponsor's alleged sexual requests.
Vanderberg, who eventually withdrew from the competition, said the sponsor started harassing her on her second day in the country. She said the sponsor got her mobile number without her consent and kept calling her to ask for her hotel and room number.
But it didn't stop there. The candidate said the unnamed sponsor offered her competition mileage if she grants him sexual favors.
"He showed up to almost all of my events telling me he could take care of my needs and asked for sexual favours in exchange to get me further in the pageant. I was disgusted," Vandenberg wrote on her Instagram page on Wednesday.
 
Miss Earth England Abbey-Anne Gyles-Brown also attested to this.
"I enjoyed 50% of my trip but the other 50% was over shadowed by feeling exploited, vulnerable, unnerved & sexually harassed as I was approached by a sponsor on many occasions who asked for sexual favours in exchange for the crown," she wrote on Instagram.
All three candidates recalled their experience with the sponsor when they attended two sponsored events at the Manila Yacht Club.
Miss Earth Guam Emma Mae Sheedy said the Filipino sponsor, whom she identified as Amado Cruz, ensured that the team managers and security personnel were separated in another room during the event at the yacht club. She said he grabbed her bare backside during the National Costume Competition, but told her not to tell anyone about it.
 
Vandenberg said seven candidates left the event after they felt uncomfortable and unsafe in the sponsor's yacht. She added some candidates were even invited to go to the newly-rehabilitated Boracay.
"At an event at the Manila Yacht Club he took all of the delegates in my group to his yacht and had some girls take sultry photos. Again, I was disgusted. Later in the pageant we had another sponsor event at the Manila Yacht Club and he was telling girls he could take them to Boracay, as long as we didn't tell any one. A group of us left to sit out side as we did not feel comfortable. He followed us outside and was upset we were not dancing with him. The team mangers laughed and told us to be nice," she wrote.
Gyles-Brown recalled how she and the other women were harassed.
"It was not only myself and Canada who were approached on this night but other delegates who I believe are going to come forward and tell their side of the story... Myself and Jaime removed ourselves from this uncomfortable environment and sat on the bus away from further exploitation," she said.
CNN Philippines is trying to reach Cruz for comment.
Officials of the Manila Yacht Club, where the incident supposedly took place, said Cruz is not a member and could have just been sponsored by a friend who happens to be part of the club.

Allegations vs Miss Earth organizers

All three candidates believe Miss Earth 2018 organizers did not act on their complaints.
Vanderberg said that she was able to talk to Lorraine Schuck, the founder and executive vice president of the production that runs the pageant. She said it took weeks before the Carousel Productions addressed her concerns.
"I went through almost two weeks of sexual harassment before anything was done about it," she said.
Gyles-Brown said that when she mentioned the Manila Yacht Club incident to Miss Earth organizers, they only scoffed at her.
"Myself and Canada approached Team Managers to express our disgust only to be laughed at. Another official attendee of the night told me not to cry as I would ruin my makeup! There was no respect or compassion shown to myself or Jamie. I felt traumatised by this experience and had many sleepless nights," she said.
Gyles-Brown said she was told by Schuck that the sponsor would not be allowed near the candidates, but it did not happen.
"The said sponsor in fact show up at a preliminary event and also attended the Coronation night," she said.
Sheedy believes that more candidates over the years will come forward with their revelations against the said sponsor.
Another allegation from Vanderberg was that Miss Earth organizers confiscated her passport on the first day of competition.
"The organization had confiscated my passport on the first day and I felt like I couldn't leave. When the team managers went into my room and took things from my luggage without my permission, I had completely lost faith in the organization," she said.
Vandenberg also explained her decision to withdraw from the competition before the coronation night on November 3.
"I was so excited because I had been to the Philippines before and loved the country and the people; however, the experience with the pageant was not what I had expected. I left Miss Earth because I did not feel safe under their care," Vandenberg wrote.
Shuck said they will ban the alleged sponsor from the pageant's next events.
However, she questioned why the candidates aired their issues online even if they have already talked about it. 
"Medyo na-blown out of proportion... Naiba. So ewan ko ba kung bakit umabot to sa social media, eh natapos na kami noong October 14 pa. So I really do not understand. So if they're saying na tuloy-tuloy pa din yung harassement na naramdaman nila, bakit hindi nila sinasabi sa team manager at sa police," she told CNN Philippines on Thursday. 
Source: CNN Philippines, 11/9/2018

11.04.2018

Venezuela Wins Reina Hispanoamericana 2018

Photo credit: Instagram


Nariman Battikha of Venezuela was crowned Reina Hispanoamericana 2018 on November 3 in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia. Battikha is the seventh Venezuelan to win the crown.  Elected as the Virreina ("Vice-Queen") is Isabele Pandini Nogueira of Brazil.

The list of runners-up include:
1st runner-up - Mexico - Aranza Anaid Molina
2nd runner-up - Paraguay - María Belén Alderete
3rd runner-up - Bolivia - Marian Joyce Prado
4th runner-up - Chile - Camila Ignacia Helfmann
5th runner-up - Ecuador - Lisseth Naranjo Goya
6th runner-up - Cuba - Gleidys Leyva Rodríguez
7th runner-up  - Peru - Jessica McFarlane
8th runner-up  - Europa Hispana - Daniela Santeliz Acosta

The pageant, which began in 1991, seeks to promote Hispanic culture around the world. It was initially limited to countries where Spanish is spoken, but a few years ago it opened to countries with some Spanish influence and to Hispanic communities in the United States and Europe.

11.03.2018

Vietnam Wins Miss Earth 2018




Nguyen Phuong Khanh, a 23-year-old marketing student from Vietnam, was crowned Miss Earth 2018 on Satuday, November 3, at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City, Philippines. Nguyen is the first woman from Vietnam to win the pageant which is now in its eighteenth edition. 86 young women from all the world competed in the popular pageant whose mission is to promote the care and preservation of the planet Earth. 


L-R: Mexico, Colombia, Vietnam, Austria

Nguyen's court includes Miss Earth Air 2018 Melanie Mader of Austria, Miss Earth Water 2018  Valeria Ayos of Colombia, and Miss Earth Fire 2018 Melissa Flores of Mexico. Completing the top 8 were the delegates from Italy, Portugal, Philippines and Venezuela. Rounding up the top 18 were the delegates from Chile, Netherlands, Slovenia, South Africa, Brazil, Ghana, Japan, Montenegro, Nepal and Romania. 

Nguyen was crowned by outgoing queen Karen Ibasco

The show was broadcast worldwide and streamed live via Miss Earth's Facebook page and YouTube. James Deakin hosted for the second consecutive year.  Entertainment was provided by multi-awarded recording artist Brian McKnight

The pageant was without any drama. Miss Venezuela Diana Silva collapsed backstage and was unable to join the rest of the Top 8 finalists. Her faint is reminiscent of Clara Sosa who fainted after she was crowned Miss Grand International 2018 last week. Allegedly, Silva was replaced by the next top scorer, Miss Vietnam.


An Instagram photo shows Miss Venezuela Diana Silva (lying in a gurney) who recovered from her faint, surrounded by the Venezuelan team led by national director and former Miss Earth Alyz Heinrich (far left)