Category Archives: Lifestyle

The Many Shades of Darcelle Closes at the Oregon Historical Society

A Selection from the Imperial Wardrobe

Article by Sebastian Fortino, Publisher & Editor-in-Chief
Photos by Jewell Harrington III, CEO

It’s been a very big year for Portland’s own First Lady of Entertainment, Darcelle XV. A movie made about her in 2018, Through Darcelle’s Eyes by Portland’s own 360 Labs was featured in the Downtown Los Angeles Film Festival. Darcelle was reportedly delighted not only with the film, but about the novel sensation of seeing her story come alive via 360 degree, virtual reality technology.

Check out the preview below…

Then, just this past fall, Donald Horn of Triangle Productions brought her life story to the stage–in our fair Rose City of course–in a musical called, “That’s No Lady.” The show was a smashing success, its overall craft, presentation, and professionalism displayed enough strength for a Broadway production.

But: what else would you expect from the fabulous Darcelle?

After all the Portland native was born (as Walter Cole) during the height of the Great Depression. Those born in that era saw hardship and are not afraid to fight for their beliefs. If you missed out–better hope Horn and his team will get it staged again in 2020. Last year marked 50 years of Stonewall, but the coming new year celebrates 50 years of the first gay pride parades throughout much of the country.

Additionally, she brought many a gown and of course a crown to the Oregon Historical Society. “The Many Shades of Being Darcelle: 52 Years of Fashion, 1967 – 2019″ closed on Sunday, December 8th so if you missed out you’ll just have to keep visiting Darcelle XV’s Showplace, host (or hostess, if you will) of the longest running drag show on the West Coast. You may see some of the garments again. Darcelle, like another royal lady (we’re looking at you Duchess Kate of Cambridge) knows wearing a favorite number again shows confidence in your own sense of style.

A Selection From the Imperial Wardrobe

A Selection from the Queen’s Wardrobe (c) 2019 ProudTimes.com/JewellHarrrington III

Check out the glitter, the glamor, and…gaiety. As you will learn from the pictures below Darcelle, like many drag performers and performance artists fashion many of their own costumes.

Hansen/Darcelle Gown, 1965/1985 (c) 2019 ProudTimes.com/Jewell Harrrington III

Channeling Mae West: the Hansen/Darcelle Gown

This gown at right has a provenance of interest not just limited to the life of Darcelle. It was originally constructed for Gracie Hansen, a performer local to Seattle and Portland who came here in the 1960s to headline at the Hoyt Hotel. Fittingly, Gracie had her own showplace, Gracie Hansen’s Roaring Twenties room. Darcelle purchased the performer’s gowns after her death in 1985. Hansen also ran for governor in 1970 claiming she was “The best candidate money could buy.” She came in third place.

It’s fitting the possessions of such an iconoclast as Gracie Hansen would end up in the wardrobe of Darcelle. The ostrich plumes are certainly reminiscent of Mae West, it certainly asks, “Why don’t you come up and see me sometime?”

Darcelle made some alterations to the ensemble, which includes the original hat. An interesting note, both performers were able to wear it at the original length. Despite the fact Ms. Hansen was a petite 5’2″ and Darcelle–without heels–is a solid 6′ tall.

The Lady Doth Protest Too Much: Coronation Gown 1972

Coronation Gown, 1972 (c) 2019 ProudTimes.com/Jewell Harrrington III

Everyone has had a wardrobe malfunction–even an Empress. This was the first time Darcelle used a pattern to create a “lewk,” as they say today. She was not pleased with the result of the gown she created to receive her crown at the Imperial Sovereign Rose Court of Portland Coronation in 1972.

In fact, she flipped the script on this gown: “When it was finished, I thought it was so damned ugly, I decided to wear it backwards,” the placard quotes Darcelle as saying. “Frontwards or backwards… It has been one hell of an amazing ride ever since.”

Green and white velvet gown, 1972/73 (c) 2019 ProudTimes.com/Jewell Harrrington III

Scintillating Silhouettes: Shimmer, Beads & Magic

The gowns in the image at right have sparkle and undeniable allure. The white gown, in the foreground has an accompanying floor length cape. You can see it in the picture featuring the whole lineup of Darcelle’s items on display if you scroll up in this article.

Darcelle loves the cut of the ensemble, the skirt of this column-style dress, bells out delicately to form a 360 degree hem. But, there’s a little secret.

“The colored balls on the dress are actually marbles that have been pressed flat and then glued to the dress,” Darcelle revealed. This lets us know costume design is part sewing skill, with equal parts ingenuity and magic.

Darcelle premiered the dress in 1972 and wore it to functions then and in the following year, according to the exhibit.

The gown in the background, with the blue and white tiered, flame-stitch application of beads, was in fact hand beaded by Darcelle. The creation weighs 23 pounds. It took three months to delicately string the beads, make sure the flame pattern sections matched continuously, before constructing the dress itself.

They say drag can be a time consuming, and expensive habit. They also say this of interior decorating. It’s not surprising gay men are perhaps suited to these decidedly transformative art forms.

Darcelle XV’s Coronation Crown 1972 awarded by the Imperial Sovereign Rose Court of Portland, OR (c) 2019 ProudTimes.com/Jewell Harrrington III

Activism: Heavy is the Head, that Wears…
…the crown, pictured at left. This is the very crown by which Darcelle XV was crowned by the Imperial Sovereign Rose Court of Portland, in 1972 as Empress. She has worn it through the early days of Gay Liberation in the 1970s, the days of disco, when Diana Ross first crooned “I’m Comin’ Out” to gay men and women happy to want “the world to know.”

But, this isn’t the only piece of jewelry she is proud of: despite the splashy baubles, bangles, and beads below and on her many costumes take a look at that simple denim jacket alongside all that glitters.

Darcelle’s Denim Bejeweled Jacket, Jewelry, Crown (c) 2019 ProudTimes.com/Jewell Harrrington III

In the 1970s Darcelle began wearing this jacket to functions where she did not necessarily need to appear in drag. Appearing in casual street clothes, topped off with this jacket. Over the past 50 years as a performer, activist, philanthropist, and all-around champion of gay civil rights many marks of service have been added. These mementos are both local and national, with a heavy score of them coming from work or appearances in San Francisco.

But most touchingly, and to remind us that a decade after Darcelle was crowned in 1972 the glittering party of that decade came to a shocking end: take notice of the AIDS ribbon pin worn to the right of the “D” pin, to the left of the crown pin. Despite all the accolades she has received for her performances, it’s not hard to imagine her considering her greatest work is the help she has given to the gay community locally and beyond.

Darcelle saw the impact of World War II as a child and adolescent; as Walter Cole he served the United States in the Korean War; in the 1960s he fell in love with his late life partner Roxy Neuhart; that same decade he took over a tavern in Chinatown transforming it into one of the most fabled drag venues in the country, if not on the globe, and was recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records for her long life and longevity on the stage. Then, bravely and eloquently, Darcelle used her venue, her voice, and her love to help support those stricken by the diagnosis in the early days.

A Belated Birthday: Darcelle with Words of Wisdom for Any Age

A few weeks ago, Darcelle XV reached her 89th birthday. Both in and out of drag, Darcelle speaks her mind. When asked what comments she had about her birthday, her response was simple and eloquent.

“We learn to laugh at ourselves first, and then we can laugh at everyone else,” she said to mark her birthday. Before reminding us, “Until we meet again, take all the time to make a special someone happy. Stay safe, stay well, and by all means stay in love.”


Darcelle as Walter Cole (left), with Donald Horn of Triangle Productions (right) at the Oregon Historical Society (c) 2019 ProudTimes.com/Jewell Harrrington III

These are the perfect words to begin our holiday season, here in Oregon! So, Merry Christmas, a Hanukah, a Blessed Kwanzaa, a Healthy New Year, and Happy Holidays all around.

World AIDS Day: ProudTimes Publisher & CEO Appear in a New Podcast

Greg Halpen, a New York City-based vocal artist and host of Redefining Gayness explores a topic many queer couples can identify with today: being in a mixed-status couple in terms of HIV-diagnosis. Please check out the column which inspired the podcast at Metrosource.com, and keep up with Greg on his website where he publishes his podcasts.

The Bubbles No Longer Tickle My Nose: Being Gay & Half-Native on Thanksgiving

By Hellen Back

Ms. Back is a performer, originally from Santa Cruz, who now makes their home in Portland. She has kindly agreed to share recollections from her life, in and out of drag.

My dad’s family didn’t approve that my mother wasn’t white: so I never met them, never celebrated holidays, never met my grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and the whole lot. Instead I was raised by my Mom’s family, who are Native-American.

Thanksgiving was always kind of a joke in our family.

During these dinners, a maternal relative would inevitably shout out, and cause everyone to laugh, “Why the hell are we celebrating this again?” You bet, Thanksgiving was always kind of a joke in our family.

Thanksgiving was alway a mindless eating binge, with very little thought given to the supposed history behind the holiday. A time to gather with family to eat, laugh, eat, nap, eat, repeat. Then watch old movies and football and then of course eat some more. 

My nana’s green bean casserole with the crunchy God-knows-what on the top, the standard dry and overcooked bird, the forgotten rolls burning away in the oven, lumps in the gravy and years, the standard shit some families insist on repeating less than 30 days later on Christmas. Of course, years ago, when various pain-in-the ass uncles were still alive, the political arguments. This was often followed by squealing tires as someone left in a rage. As dad once put it, “They drove up in a Mercedes, but left in a huff!”

Dad had married into my big crazy Native American family when he met mom. She was petite and gorgeous and the love of his life. He was great, a big, good look’n guy. A bit actor in “motion pictures” and TV shows, mostly Westerns. 

He was great on a horse so he was often a stuntman, and made his career doubling actors like Errol Flynn and John Barrymore. He really was a dead ringer for Barrymore and cut quite the figure and profile. As a kid I remember dad always being impeccably dressed and people inevitably used the word dapper when describing him. He was also the most liberal, loving person you’d ever meet with a huge heart that was definitely in the right place.

…roped-off heirloom chairs in their houses and roped-off heirloom minds in their heads.

He had been born into a well-to-do, Protestant Bostonian family of polite WASPs–the kind with roped-off heirloom chairs in their houses and roped-off heirloom minds in their heads. Scandalously, his mother had been French-Catholic and had made sure he was christened in the Roman Catholic Church just before she passed away from complications caused by his birth.

That’s all it took, a few drops of holy water and the unintelligible mutterings of some musty old priest and his life was changed forever. His father’s family from that day forward treated him like a servant, even worse than a servant. He slept on the porch, even in the dead of winter. He stole bagels and milk off of the neighborhood porches and did his best to get by.

Hellen as a Youngster, at Roughly the Same Age His Father was Abandoned by His Own Father…

One day his father took him down to the train station when he was about five-years old or so, handed him a couple dollars and then stepped aboard a departing train as it pulled away from the station, never to be seen or heard from again. After that, dad was on his own. Luckily for him he was taken in by a Black family in Boston who fed and clothed him. He never forgot that kindness and he lived his life completely devoid of any racism. His first wife was latino with whom he had eight very good look’n kids.

“Would you like to be in motion pictures?”

Later in life, in his late forties, he met my mom. Mom was dark and beautiful with a dazzling smile and a killer figure. She told me that dad’s first words out of his mouth to her had been, “Would you like to be in motion pictures?”

Yeah, She Was in Pictures…No Joke.

She laughed and told him what a line and then, they were together for the next thirty or more years. I remember people staring at us and yelling things when we’d go out. Restaurants were particularly uncomfortable. I was born in 1957 so-mixed race couples were few and far between. Kids at school would say “Your mom’s a n****r.”

So, dad would come down to the principal’s office to raise hell.

Both mom and dad’s best-friends were black. When they’d visit, I’d be in the front yard playing with their kids, and every other house on the block in our lily white neighborhood of Downey, California was studded with angry faces peeking through curtains watching us disapprovingly. A few years later when I was to come out as gay the residents of Downey had something else to hate me for and–hate me they did. Daily verbal and physical assaults which lasted until the day I escaped that awful little city.  

Portrait of the Artist as a Fey Lad

When I came out to my parents…dad wasn’t in the least bit fazed and never had an issue with it. Mom had wanted grandchildren badly, but soon got past that and our family, mom’s family, they didn’t blink an eye, they loved me unconditionally, the entire family.

After knowing the “good Christian” white people of Downey I realized that I wasn’t missing a thing by not knowing my dad’s family, the only good thing they ever produced was him, a good guy that never saw the color of a person’s skin or judged someone by whom they loved. 

…the only family I’ve ever known.

Today I think of family, my Mom’s Family…the only family I’ve ever known. Today they are scattered around the country and many have passed, but they are all in my thoughts and my heart. Just a bunch of fun, loving, crazy Indians (we still call ourselves Indians by the way, because we can call ourselves whatever we damn well please) and at some point today someone in each household will pause and ask, 

“Why the Hell are we celebrating today again?” 

Gay History to Be Thankful For as We Approach 2020

by Robin Will, President of Gay & Lesbian Archives of the Pacific Northwest

While We’re Thinking About Thanksgiving Local LGBTQ+ Groups Are Already Focused on Next Spring

Robin Will, President of GLAPN

ProudTimes welcomes Robin Will and the Gay & Lesbian Archives of the Pacific Northwest to this publication. In his first piece for us, he discusses the importance of both 2019 & 2020 as hallmark years for our community.

A word or two about terminology: in the beginning, the word “gay” seemed to be enough. In 1970, two of the principals of Stonewall, Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, marched in the first parade under the banner of their newly-formed transvestite organization. In Portland, Gay Pride didn’t become Lesbian & Gay Pride until 1982. Other factions of our community found their voices and claimed their space at other times. Our awareness and our language are still changing.

In 2020, we’re looking at two more semi-centennials: the first Pride celebration nationally, and the first gay community organizing in Portland. Our community can expect a lot of emphasis on history as part of Portland Pride this year.

First, Let’s Consider Stonewall

June 28, 1969 marked the beginning of three days of rioting at the Stonewall Inn, a Mafia-owned gay bar in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village, after a routine police bust went seriously off the tracks. The Stonewall Riots weren’t the first demonstrations by gay folks, nor the first time queer people ever fought back against bullying by police. However, they seem to be the first events that, as they happened, were understood as a struggle for civil rights and, in the terms of the moment, for liberation.

People were certain that the Stonewall riots were more than just another spat with the cops – so much so that by November of 1969, a community group in Greenwich Village had already obtained a parade permit for the first anniversary of the riots. The event would be called The Christopher Street Liberation Day

The Very First Pride Parade

There’s also a second 50th anniversary to be thankful for – it was the first Pride parade. Marchers lined up for 14 blocks, and Stonewall principals Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson walked with their brand-new organization, Street Transvestites Action Revolutionaries (STAR), which may have been our country’s first militant transgender organization – or at least, by definition, the first to march in a Gay Pride parade. 

Consider checking out a preview of a documentary which came out a few years ago about the life of pioneer transgender activist Marsha P. Johnson, via Netflix.

So in 2019 we celebrated the riots; in 2020, we’ll be marking the 50th anniversary of that first Pride Parade. That accounts for two anniversaries – and there’s one more, in-between, that’s local to Portland. After Stonewall, calls for gay liberation went out on radio, TV, in publications we would have referred to as “establishment” back in the day, as well as in press that we called “underground” catering to the gay community which was decidedly a fringe group at the time. Nationwide, queer people heard those calls, and responded. 

Below: An example of the “underground” and largely clandestine publications available to queer and what we might call counter-culture or subversive readers in the late 1960s & 1970s.The Willamette Bridge was one such paper, it ran for only a few years from June of 1968 to June of 1971. John Wilkinson, who lamented gay life in Portland at the time in this article, is also a hero of the gay community in the Pacific Northwest.“Gay, young, & lonely” was too often the norm in describing the lives of queer people at the time.

In Oregon, the Eugene Gay People’s Alliance (EPGA) first met in January 1970. In Portland, an article in the Willamette Bridge pointed out in February that Portland didn’t have anything like the Gay Liberation Front that was meeting in other cities. The uptake was quick: Portland’s Gay Liberation Front met for the first time on March 24, 1970.

Queering Oregon: The Gay Liberation Front Comes to Portland

So there’s the third semi-centennial – the start-from-scratch beginnings of Portland’s own LGBTQ+ community. 

As we move through 2020, Portland’s Pride Northwest will be doing their best to celebrate these beginnings, and they will be getting some help from GLAPN, the region’s only LGBTQ+ historical society. Since GLAPN has been proudly collecting, preserving, and sharing our community’s history.

The Gay Liberation Front got discussion rolling, and almost immediately yielded to The Second Foundation (a nod to Isaac Asimov) to develop a gay presence in Portland. It was The Second Foundation that created the first Pride celebration in Portland, an indoor gathering held in 1971. In 1975 the party moved outdoors, to the Park Blocks near Portland State University; and in 1976, the event took place at Waterfront Park. Portland had our first Pride parade in 1977.

In Their 70s Now

The queer youngsters who were in their late teens and early twenties in 1970 – the ones who had the fire and gumption to picket, parade, and organize and work for gay liberation – are in their seventies now. For sure, they were following in the footsteps of elders – work in the queer community had gone on in one form or another since the 1920s in the United States. But this particular generation has the dubious symmetry of being born into pre-Pride isolation and persecution, seeing the first public glimmer of hope just as they came of age, and witnessing the LGBTQ+ rainbow developing in living color through their adult lives. 

Ask somebody over 70, and they’ll explain: Stonewall came to the nation, and the Gay Liberation Front came to Portland, when there were no legal protections for LGBTQ+ people, and no interest in developing any. Persecuting gays was legal, and it was a social norm: homosexuals were considered criminal by law, mentally ill by health professionals, and pariahs by most of the religious community.

George Oberg, a Local Hero of the Early Gay Rights Movement in Portland…

Criminals, Reprobates, Mentally Ill

Yes, being gay was criminal. In Oregon, homosexuality was effectively outlawed until 1972 by a law that prohibited sodomy. Over the years the legislature and the courts had redefined the “crime” in almost comically broad terms, but the penalty wasn’t funny: a felony conviction, with 5-15 years in the penitentiary. After 1923, sodomy convictions also resulted in referral to the Oregon Board of Eugenics for sterilization. A sodomy charge – with a public trial, covered in detail in the newspapers – could ruin a life and derail a career. But there were other tactics at the discretion of the cop on the beat: citations for lewd conduct, disturbing the peace, disorderly conduct, and/or illegal assembly were perfectly routine and legal ways to harass gays, get them off the street, get their names in the paper, and maybe lock them up for a little while.

In 1972 – two years after the first Gay Liberation Front meeting in Portland – Oregon was the fourth state to legalize sex between consenting adults, outside of prostitution. That means today’s 70-year-olds were 23 before the onus of criminality was removed from their sexuality in Oregon. Other states were slower.

Homosexuality was listed in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual until 1973. Families or courts could – and did – commit individuals to mental hospitals for treatment. Today’s septuagenarians were 24 years old when they came off of the “sick list.” The mental health professions weren’t instantly transformed – hidebound professionals believe what they learned in their senior seminars, and many conservative religious groups haven’t changed their minds to this day – but the change was valuable to young professionals, for morale in general, and, occasionally, in courts of law. It’s worth noting that every LGBTQ+ community startup in Portland, ever, has immediately developed its own list of doctors and counselors. We sadly haven’t ever been able to trust the community at large with our physical and mental health.

Well, Portland’s Gay Liberation Front didn’t last long. Reading between the lines, those early gatherings were apparently a matter of hippies and slogans.  Almost immediately, a more mature organization picked up the stronger folks from the GLF and got on with business of creating community. They called themselves The Second Foundation, with a nod to Isaac Asimov, and their name is on most of the earliest heavy lifting that made space for queer people in Portland. 

The Risks They Took

Many of the LGBTQ+ people who did that early work are still living, and this year, GLAPN and Pride-NW will be telling their stories. There was the transplant from Ohio, who wanted to know where the gay bars were, and didn’t know who he could safely ask. There was the kid who couch-surfed away from home until his 18th birthday, because he overheard his parents discussing getting him lobotomized to cure his homosexuality. There was the young teacher who was considering suicide as an alternative to coming out to her parents; and the reporter who was using several pen names in the underground press, to give the impression that more than one person in Portland was interested in women’s issues.

They are people who didn’t know if they would get arrested or not at these first meetings, and they weren’t sure what coming out in public would do to their reputations and employability, forever. They’re in their seventies now. Pride Northwest, GLAPN, and this publication intend to wish them Happy 50th Anniversary in the months to come.

Robin Will (pronouns he/him/his) was born in Hillsboro and grew up in Portland, graduating from Benson Polytechnic High School in 1966, and from Portland State University in 2007.  After briefly considering the ministry and exploring social work as a paraprofessional, he spent most of his career in the publishing industry, in a variety of roles that included writing, editing, design, and production management, He has been president of GLAPN (Gay & Lesbian Archives of the Pacific Northwest) since 2014.

Photo by Bill Spencer

ProudTimes Welcomes the New Monarchy

An Interview with Empress JenuWine Surreal Beauté & Emperor Chance de Valmont

by Jewell Harrington, III
ProudTimes CEO & (Unofficial) Rose Court Correspondent

The Imperial Sovereign Rose Court is Oregon’s oldest LGBTQ Organization, and second only to San Francisco’s Imperial Court System. On October 19th, came a very special time in Portland at The Melody Event Center, the crowning of Portland’s own Emperor and Empress. ProudTimes CEO and (Unofficial) Rose Court Correspondent, Jewell Harrington III sat down with Empress JenuWine Beauté, and Emperor Chance de Valmont for a personal interview to meet the newly crowned monarchs.

Proud Times: Congratulations to you both! Was this a pretty exciting ride for each of you? 

JenuWine Beauté: This was indeed a very exciting journey.

Chance de Valmont: Yes, very exciting indeed.

PT: How long have you been wanting to be crowned Emperor & Empress? When did you first say, “Someday, that’s for me!”

JWB: I’ve always admired and love Portland’s Rose Court. I often wondered if I would ever be one. Then one day I moved here and joined the organization. Six years ago, was when I realized that someday it could be me. 

CdeV: When I was a teenager titleholder with Portland’s Youth Court, I was introduced to the Rose Court. Ever since then I knew I would someday step up to become a Monarch of Portland.

PT: Can you tell us a little bit about your court names, your inspiration, etc.?

JWB: Well my name is JenuWine Surreal Beauté. I created the name JenuWine to reflect my persona in and out of drag. Surreal is a family name that comes from Mark & Rob Surreal, my Papas, who reside in the Tri-Cities of Washington. Beauté is my last name and comes from a queen who called me that one night and my friends adopted it and started using it for me. My Inspiration as a Rose Empress began with Rose Empress XLIV, Poison Waters. She showed me that you can have fun, stay classy, and support your community all by staying true to yourself. 

CdeV:  My stage name, Dr. Chance de Valmont has evolved over the years. Originally I went by Chance because it was my mother’s nickname for me. de Valmont is the last name of the male lead from the French novel Les Liaisons dangereuses. The Doctor title was given to me by the late DJ Scooter from The Escape Nightclub. A Disco-Pharmacologist If you will. 

PT: When did you each decide you would run for this year’s title? 

JWB: I made a personal change in March/April and began my process. It wasn’t until about June/July when I truly was onboard and committed to running. 

CdeV: After a successful step down as Imperial Prince Royal in 2017, I knew this was my time.

PT: What inspired you to run for your titles, and how long had you been considering it? 

JWB: I have been inspired by numerous Rose Monarchs who have paved the way in Portland for our community to be who they are. I have been considering running for five years now. 

CdeV: This community is what inspires me, without it there would be no reason to run. I am inspired by our College of Monarchs that came before us. They created the oldest LGBTQ+ organization in Oregon and since then we have helped to create and fund many services and organizations that this community holds dear.

PT: Chance, I noticed you were running uncontested. How did this have an effect on your campaigning for the title of Emperor? Did you find that you could relax more, or did you have to step up your game?

CdeV: I wanted to run my campaign as if there was competition. The community expects and more importantly deserves it. This was a way for me to give a preview as to what is to come this year. Having run before, I knew what is expected and why it is important to get out and engage the community you will be serving. 

PT: JenuWine Beauté, who were the other contestants to the throne, and did you find it particularly challenging to run against them?

JWB: There was one other candidate for the position. Her name is Shima B. Valentine. Whenever one competes for a competition it is always tough. This campaign is unlike many people have ever experienced. You put a ton of heart, soul, money, and determination into showing your community that they should elect you to represent. Shima was quite the competitor and definitely brought a strong campaign to the competition. The most challenging aspect is the fact of not knowing how you are doing or which way the votes will go. It really makes you anxious to know the results. 

PT: How long have you been involved with the Rose Court and/or participating in other pageants? What titles have you each held previously, and from where? 

JWB: My involvement with the Rose Court has been 6 years, however I have been involved in the International Court System for 20 years. I have held a few titles here and there. LaFemme Magnifique Tacoma 2001-2002, Miss Gay Tacoma 2002-2003, Empress XXV of Tacoma, LaFemme Magnifique Olympia, Miss Gay Oregon XLV, and now Rose Empress LXI. 

CdeV: This year marks 20 years of involvement with the Imperial Court System.  In 2001 I was crowned Thorn XXV of Portland, in 2005 I ran and won the title of Mr. Gay Portland XXX and in 2016 I was appointed Imperial Prince Royale XLII. I am the third person to elevate to the position of Rose Emperor from the Portland Youth Court. His Most Imperial Majesty, Rose Emperor XLIII, The Nobility of the Rose, Dr. Chance de Valmont.

PT:  Are either of you affiliated with any other LGBTQ organizations, and if so, what will holding the Emperor and Empress titles bring to these other organizations?  

JWB: I personally have participated in a few other organizations by attending their events and helping their organization. Some of those include but not limited to are as follows; Oregon Reign Football, Rose City Bowling League, HIV Day Center, and more. Reigning as Rose Empress LXI allows me the position in our community to help make a difference to those organizations on a broader scale. Leading the ISRC with my Rose Emperor, we are able to ask our constituents to volunteer/donate to this other organizations to truly unite all aspects of our diverse community. 

CdeV: My partner Ty VanHelsing and I head the world’s oldest LGBTQ+ Youth Court. It is my intention to bring more exposure to this amazing group of youth leaders by inclusion and community presents.

PT: I know reaching out, activism, giving back to the community is important to both of you–& important for those running. Did you establish a platform together? Or did you come up with individual ideas then meld the two together? 

JWB: We came up with our own platforms separately. We each have a passion to support our local queer businesses. We both worked on our own platforms and then after we were crowned, have been working together as a team to achieve our goals. 

CdeV: After sitting down with one another and many conversations it is clear that my Empress and I have the drive for community, inclusion and charity. It’s just the right thing to do.

PT: I know that traveling and taking time off of work has an effect on your jobs, so how do you work around that type of situation?

JWB: Luckily for me, traveling is my job. I’m a flight attendant for a living. The tricky part about that is I’m constantly traveling for work. This makes it a tad difficult when wanting to represent in the city during the weekdays, yet when I’m home in Portland, I definitely make sure I do my best to represent wherever I am able. 

CdeV: Recently I made a career move to go back to education. It happens to mesh very well with the obligations of this position. Weekends and holidays off. I am able to travel in the evenings and attend local events. Also summers off never hurt anyone. 

PT: Speaking of travel: we saw you went to Hawaii a few weeks ago. What was that like? 

JWB: Indeed we sure did. It was The Imperial Court of Hawaii’s annual Coronation. It was our very first walk together as the reigning Rose Monarchs of Portland. We were instantly greeted with the Aloha spirit from the moment we arrived until the time we left. The Rose Court members present represented Portland so beautéfully that we were awarded Hawaii’s highest honor of the night. The Teddy Award for Best Overall Presentation. An honor we both will cherish and remember. We also created lasting memories with the newest Monarchs of Hawai’i, Emperor Keoki Nalu Nunies and Empress Averianna Jewel Nunies! They are excited about making a journey to our City of Roses for Coronation on October 14th-18th. Hawaii was a great beginning for our reign. 

CdeV: I think my Empress covered this one for both us.

PT: Has it been decided how many other coronations will you be traveling to, and is there a calendar of events that people can check out to see what’s happening in the LGBTQ community? 

JWB: We have a tentative list of Coronations we plan/hope to attend during the year. We also have plans to attend local events here in Portland as well. Your readers may follow along on our Facebook group or they can become a member of our organization for the year on the Rose Court’s membership page. These are just a couple ways for members to follow along. 

CdeV: Yes, we do have quite this list of events here in the States, Canada and Mexico. We will be spreading the message of love, charity and community in more than 20 cities this year. My Empress mentioned our local webpage but also check out the International Court System and the Imperial Court System for more information.

PT: Perhaps, what issues you most wish to focus on over the course of the next year? 

JWB: We’d like to focus on raising funds through partnerships with local queer owned businesses and organizations. 

CdeV:  I will second my empresses statement but also would like to focus on community engagement and youth participation in the organization.

PT: Lastly, is there anything you’d care to add? 

JWB: We want to let everyone know that you may get involved by attending any of our monthly meetings. They take place the first Monday of every month (unless it’s a holiday) at Darcelle XV Showplace 208 NW 3rd Ave at 7pm. Attendance is free. We invite one and all to come check out our organization and see what we are about. We’d also like to thank Proud Times for this amazing opportunity to be featured. It’s very much appreciated. Thank you Portland and we look forward to seeing you out and about in our Beautéful community. 

CdeV: If any of the readers have further questions, comments or want to get involved please check out our website Rose Court. Thank you to Proud Times for this interview and taking this opportunity to get to know about our organization. And remember “For you in Portland a rose grows.”

With any news or information related to the Imperial Sovereign Rose Court please contact our CEO, Jewell Harrington, III at proudtimesmagCEO@gmail.com & he’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

An Evening with David Sedaris at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall

Are you a fan of the wonderful, witty Mr. Sedaris? Well, faster than you can dress your family in corduroy and denim, quicker than you can explore diabetes with owls check out ticket availability for his one-night only appearance at the Schnitzer! The fun begins at 7:30PM, this Friday, November 8th.

From the Portland’5 Press Release

NPR humorist and bestselling author of CalypsoNakedDress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim and Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls, David Sedaris has become one of America’s pre-eminent humor writers, known for his sardonic wit and incisive social critiques. The great skill with which he slices through cultural euphemisms and political correctness proves that Sedaris is a master of satire and one of the most observant writers addressing the human condition today.

Calypso, his latest collection of essays, is a New York Times best-seller, and a Washington PostBest Book of the Year. The audiobook of Calypso was nominated for a 2019 Grammy in the Best Spoken Word Album category.

David Sedaris is the author of Barrel Fever and Holidays on Ice, as well as collections of personal essays, NakedMe Talk Pretty One DayDress Your Family in Corduroy and DenimWhen You Are Engulfed in FlamesLet’s Explore Diabetes with Owls, and Calypso, each of which became an immediate bestseller. The audio version of Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls is a 56th Annual GRAMMY Awards Nominee for Best Spoken Word Album. He is the author of the New York Times-bestselling collection of fables entitled Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk: A Modest Bestiary (with illustrations by Ian Falconer). He was also the editor of Children Playing Before a Statue of Hercules: An Anthology of Outstanding Stories.

“Sedaris ain’t the preeminent humorist of his generation by accident.”– Whitney Pastorek, Entertainment Weekly

You can follow David on Facebook at www.facebook.com/davidsedaris.

The Bubbles No Longer Tickle My Nose: How Hellen Almost Became Mrs. Quetzalcoatl

By Hellen Back

Ms. Back is a performer, originally from Santa Cruz, who now makes their home in Portland. She has kindly agreed to share recollections from her life, in and out of drag.

Quetzalcoatl. Do you know him? Yes, darlings, I had a few dates with him. So here’s one from the annals of my dating file. Although “anals” may ring truer, but not in the way you think.

Dressy Casual

A number of years ago I decided I wanted to begin dating again and meet a nice guy and get back into a serious, monogamous relationship. Good luck with that one, right? So I put up a profile on one of those so-called dating sites.

There were a number of men who caught my eye, but one stood out as rather special. He was middle-aged, a bit of silver coming through, and very attractive. He had posted a number of photos and I noticed that he was rather nicely dressed in each one. A tuxedo here, a lovely suit there, and very California “dressy casual” in the others.

Why Was He Still Single?

I’ll admit, cars are a weakness of mine, and in some photos he was leaning against VERY expensive cars. He also had shots of him standing in front of his home. A place which resembled the house from the TV show Dynasty, a show I was obsessed with at one time. So much so I dressed up as Alexis Carrington one fateful Halloween. Money means squat to me, but he was handsome and stylish. I wondered though…why was he still single?

After a few emails back and forth we met at a lovely restaurant in Los Gatos which is a charming community of ultra-expensive homes populated by very thin white women who shop incessantly. They occasionally stop briefly for a surgical procedure or to judge someone over martinis with olives, the only thing they can eat in public. Their husbands appear sporadically to announce how much their homes cost and compare portfolios. Because comparing penises would be just futile and sad, unless you live in Boston.

All Tied Up in Silk


My date arrived with a gorgeous bouquet that he had made himself for me. It was a perfect combination of colors and textures, hand wrapped in silk ribbon. He was as handsome as his photos if not more, and a fascinating conversationalist. After picking up the tab for dinner he walked me to my car, kissed me rather passionately, complimented me repeatedly, and drove off in his Rolls convertible. I went home that evening and began packing for my honeymoon. “Most of these clothes will have to go,” I thought to myself. “Well that’s OK. I’ll get a completely new wardrobe very soon!”


A few nights later I invited him up to my place for dinner. He complimented my collection of antiques, my uplighting, my style and even my cat…he had me at the cat! Well, the Rolls helped, you know.

I’m a fabulous cook so I pulled out all the stops. He was impressed, which was what I hoped. He complimented me even more and between bites gave me small, sweet kisses.

“Hmm,” I thought to myself. “I’ll need to get rid of most of these black clothes and focus more on navy and khaki…possibly pastels.

What would my friend Morticia say?

I winced at the very thought, but what I was ready to sacrifice for love. “L’amore, l’amore!” the countess says in 1939’s The Women. Everything was going perfectly.

The Conversation Turned to Travel

We had both traveled the world extensively. We regaled each other with lovely stories of drinks at the top of the Spanish Steps overlooking Rome at Sunset, of people watching from a Parisian cafe. I shared my love for the views across the jungle treetops from high atop a Mayan pyramid.

And that’s when it happened. I was babbling away about the Mayans, their art, culture, religion, etc, when suddenly he turned on me. He just completely snapped, and became VERY aggravated.

“Stop talking this instant! Don’t ever speak of that! Never, EVER,” he yelled at me. I sat there stunned, “What had I said to upset him?” My mind reeled, I couldn’t quite grasp what was going on.

Still angry and shaking, he explained that his travels to places like Machu pichu, Tikal, Easter Island etc. were necessary because these were the chakras of the planet.

“Chakras of the planet,” I may or may not have whispered aloud.

“OK, sure, what the hell I’ll play along. The planet has chakras, fine, whatever,” I don’t think I said aloud.

He said that he would go there to meditate on the chakras…fine, dandy. “Have a fuckin’ ball,” I thought. “When we’re married he could go and meditate his ass off. I’ll be back at the hotel poolside making eyes at the cabana boy, telling him how my husband is always off meditating on chakras and how alone I am…and could I have just one more vodka stinger please?”


As if his chakra world tour wasn’t weird enough things were about to get a whole lot weirder; weirder on a scale I’d never imagine coming from a man with a Rolls and a tuxedo. It turns out that he did his chakra-hopping because the only thing holding our entire planet together was his meditating at these sacred locations.

And why may you ask, what was it that made him so special as to be the one that holds our third rock from the sun together? Well that’s simple, really, once he explained. It’s because he was the reincarnation of Quetzalcoatl the Aztec deity. I included a wiki link in case you missed that in Comparative Religions 101. Quetzalcoatl, the feathered serpent…well, well, well, well, WELL SHIT!

My Feathered Friend

“He’s crazy as a shithouse rat,” I thought, seeing how deranged yet sincere he was. There was no reason to give up on an “us.” I could deal with his little…quirk. I mean, some people are superstitious, so they avoid the number 13 or wearing hats indoors. If they are religious–some people are snake handlers for Jesus. Some people, namely this one believed they are a reincarnated Mesoamerican snake-diety; with plumes.

So, yeah sure. That’s what it was: “a quirk.” Nobody’s perfect. I could deal with that, “So, he thinks he’s a deity,” I imagined myself telling the well-heeled women of Los Gatos in between boutiques and over martinis. “Well shit, most guys think they’re God, I could put up with this. I mean, what the hell?”

I decided to find it charming. I pressed on and, being fairly well-schooled in pagan religions and being pagan myself, I began chatting away about something or other regarding my new feathered-friend Quetzalcoatl and BAM! He lost it again “Stop it! STOP IT! STOP IT,” he screamed at me. “Stop or I’ll start losing blood again!”

Wait, loose blood?”

This was definitely getting weirder when I really hadn’t thought that possible. “Yes,” he continued. “Lose blood! If I talk about my being Quetzalcoatl my stigmata acts up!”

Well, fuck! I’ve had my share of interesting dinner dates and guests but this one had stigmata! A raging looney this one!

“Excuse me dear,” I asked. “Did you say stigmata?”
“YES, STIGMATA,” he screamed out much to the amusement and perhaps confusion of my neighbors.

“Well,” I quipped realizing that he was mad as a fucking hatter and that my dreams of the two of us driving off into the sunset in his lovely Cornish convertible had just flown out my window on the wings of a feathered serpent. But not just any ol’feathered serpent, Quetzalcoatl at that!

“That’s ok dear. Don’t worry these are tile floors.”

“Don’t laugh at me,” he screeched out, and I half-expected him to start sprouting feathers and/or bleeding.

“The last time this happened I lost six pints of blood!”

Hmm, really I thought to myself, don’t we only have about six pints in us? I was curious now, having been raised in the Church of Rome and regaled as a child with stories of Padre Pio and other saints or mystics who–being so lofty and above us all–had lived with such Catholic piety and were so very close to God that He bestowed upon them the gift of spontaneous bleeding and…excruciating pain. Catholics, gotta love’m, they think that shit’s a gift.

“So you mean you have actual stigmata where you bleed from the five wounds of Christ? Both hands, feet and the side of your ribcage where the Roman soldiers spear slashed Jesus as–err, you um, as He–hung from the cross?”

 He paused, I can only assume for dramatic effect.

A Very Different Kind of Stigmata

“No, from my anus,” he screamed, as if he were shocked I needed clarification.

I had nothing to say, although I did wonder if my neighbors were still listening in to this or if they lost interest after thinking it was just a regular, run-of-the-mill, garden-variety stigmata at my table. I just looked at him blankly.

“You don’t believe me,” he fumed. “You’re mocking me, you think I’m making this all up don’t you?”

That’s when I put the nail in the coffin of my hopes and dreams of my handsome, though “quirky” husband to be. Back to Neiman’s went my new WASP-apropos wardrobe. Our “his-and-his” matching Rolls never to leave the lot. And, no hopes of martinis with the Los Gatos chatelaines who couldn’t laugh lest they popped a stitch.

“Ya’know,” I offered. “That just doesn’t sound like a good old-fashioned traditional Church of Rome stigmata to me. Are you sure that was stigmata and maybe you just didn’t get your crazy, lunatic ass fucked off somewhere?”

My Rolls, His Rolls, Rolled Away

Well, that did it. He stomped off furiously, all-the-while screaming obscenities. Which I personally feel seemed quite out of character and unbecoming for a deity. My Quetzalcoatl jumped into his coco brown Rolls, the very one that would have looked absolutely lovely parked next to my matching Rolls in fawn gold. I sighed to myself, as he burnt rubber outta there while giving me the finger. For a deity he really could be quite vulgar, tuxedo or not.

Since that evening I’ve gone on a number of dates, none of them quite as interesting to be sure, but all of them just as disappointing. Oh well, such is the single and dating world, right? I mean who amongst us hasn’t dated the occasional deity? Not you? Surely you jest.

Anyway, that’s the true story of how I almost became Mrs. Quetzalcoatl…I thought the name had kind of had a nice ring to it, but then again I guess it would have eventually gotten tiring having to spell and respell that name over and over every time I made dinner reservations. I doubt eating Mexican out again would have ever been possible.

“Yes, Q-U-E-T-Z…yes, that’s it. Oh, and by the way, could we have some extra napkins please. Yes, lots of extra napkins, just in case of the occasional stigmata.”

Portland Veteran with PTSD Given 15 Days in Jail for Assaulting Two Gay Men

By Sebastian Fortino, ProudTimes Editor-in-Chief

Last month, two gay friends were verbally and physically assaulted in Downtown Portland. Don Kirchhoff, who has been described by his attorney as being a former veteran who suffers from PTSD. The friends in question were sitting outside of a bakery, presumably just minding their own business, just radicalizing the gay agenda by having a coffee and a pastry.*

*If they had coffee it is unconfirmed; if they had pastry, we don’t know what kind.

Today it appears Kirchhoff was convicted of his crime but given what many locals may call a lenient sentence: 15 days, but…there is more to this story.

According to LGBTNation:

One of the victims is black and the other is white, and Kirchoff allegedly shouted homophobic slurs at them and used a racist slur for the black man.


Kirchhoff then attacked, pushing the white man against a brick wall. The victim had lacerations on his head and abrasions on his neck and back.
The men tried to walk away, but Kirchhoff went after them, pulling on their clothes. One of the men turned around and punched him and they left.


His defense attorney said that he was “severely intoxicated” and doesn’t remember the attack. She argued that Kirchoff is a veteran who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and uses alcohol to self-medicate.
“That’s not a good solution for him, and he knows that,” the attorney told the court, asking for leniency.


Kirchhoff pled no contest to one count of bias crime in the first degree, a felony. He was sentenced to 15 days in jail and three years of probation. He also has to stay away from Lovejoy Bakers and the victims.


This past Friday, he pled guilty to felony strangulation in a separate case – he was accused of strangling his girlfriend. She survived the attack, and he was sentenced to 30 days in jail and three years probation in that case.
Since he has already served a month and a half while awaiting his court dates, he has already served his time. The judge said that he will have to stay in jail until Monday.


As part of his probation he will have to wear a device on his wrist that will alert authorities if he consumes alcohol.


“Actions speak louder than words,” he told the judge. “I know I have a lot to prove to other folks besides the court, that’s my goal. To move toward a cleaner path.”

It is the first time that Oregon’s new hate crimes law has been used in the county since it went into effect this past July, according to prosecutors. The new law increased some bias crimes to felonies and added gender identity to the list of protected classes in the state.

H/T: LGBTQnation.com

What do our readers think? Is this a case of the new hate crimes law being used effectively? Is this a case of someone with mental illness getting away with too much? Let us know. Please send a message to proudtimesmag@gmail.com and we’ll be sure to include it in a follow-up piece we plan to write.

Pride Journey: Columbus, Ohio

By Joey Amato

This was my fourth visit to Columbus, Ohio and every time I visit, I discover something new. What a lot of people don’t realize about this thriving mid-west city is that its LGBTQ community is one of the largest in the United States and growing every day.


Just a short stroll down High Street and you’ll run in to Union and Axis, two of the city’s many gay nightlife venues. On previous visits, there used to be a few more gay bars located on High Street, but they have since closed and others have sprouted up throughout the city.

Within minutes of arriving, I got a chance to visit Stonewall Columbus, their LGBTQ community center, located in the Short North neighborhood. The building, which recently went through a major renovation, offers a number of health and wellness services in addition to hosting numerous events throughout the year. Stonewall also houses an art gallery dedicated to local LGBTQ artists.

Never one to shy away from the camera, Joey Amato in Columbus.

Art enthusiasts will love the Columbus Museum of Art’s upcoming exhibition Art After Stonewall which opens in March 2020. The exhibition, which previously visited Miami and New York was actually curated by the Columbus Museum of Art. The entire process of curating an exhibition of this size, which includes about 250 works of art by LGBTQ artists, took around 7 years to complete. The collection includes a combination of well-known artists as well as some lesser known names.

The Columbus Museum of Art.

After exploring the museum, head to North Market for lunch. Dozens of food vendors are located under one roof which features a culinary explosion for the senses including foods from Somalia, Greece, India among others. Also located in North Market is Jeni’s Ice Cream, a homegrown shop which now has locations in other cities around the country. Try the Brown Butter Almond Brittle, it’s to die for!

A few doors down is Le Meridien Columbus, The Joseph. Developed by The Pizzuti Companies, the boutique hotel boasts a vast art collection of works acquired by Ron Pizzuti, one of the largest collectors of fine art in the world. Pizzuti’s collection is so extensive that he had to open a building to house it all. Guests of The Joseph get to explore The Pizzuti Collection free of charge. The property is also located in the Short North neighborhood, so it’s a great place to stay if you want to partake in LGBTQ nightlife.

For dinner, check out a gay-owned restaurant in German Village called Barcelona. The tapas-style restaurant offers a large indoor dining room as well as a lovely patio that makes you feel as if you are in Spain. I tried a variety of tapas in addition to a delicious charcuterie board which nicely completed the white sangria. Barcelona also offers four types of paella to choose from including a vegetarian option.

A few blocks away from the restaurant are some of the city’s neighborhood gay bars including Club DiversityBoscoe’s and Tremont Lounge. Club Diversity is located in a converted house and really does welcome the most diverse crowd I have seen at a gay bar in recent memory. The establishment makes everyone feel comfortable regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Boscoe’s is also quite unique. On the evening I visited, the bar had a drag show and male strippers alternating performances throughout the night. The concept was actually a great idea, however I felt like the crowd was more excited about the queens. Other Columbus gay bars worth noting include AwolSouthbend Tavern, and Cavan Irish Pub. The city also boasts many retail establishments dedicated to the LGBTQ community.

Columbus Pride is one of the largest pride festivals in the country, drawing over 800,000 revelers every year and according to local sources, their pride parade is larger than Chicago’s. Not a bad accomplishment for a city much smaller than Chi-Town. Plan on attending the next festival which is scheduled for June 19-21, 2020.

History buffs will love the newly opened National Veterans Memorial and Museum. It is the only museum in the country that honors all Veterans – from all branches of service, and from all eras of our nation’s history of military service from the Revolutionary War to present. I was moved to tears watching videos of veterans telling their stories about the trials of war and the pressure it puts on their families. It really is an emotional experience that I wasn’t ready for to be honest. I have been to many museums of this nature, but for some reason, this one struck a chord.

Veterans Memorial and Museum, Columbus, Ohio.

End your day with a meal at The Guild House, a restaurant developed by local celebrity chef and restauranteur Cameron Mitchell. When you enter the restaurant, you are greeted by warm notes of color with a modern twist. I almost felt as if I was dining at a culinary version of West Elm. For starters try the Tuna Ribbons and Steak Tartare. Both presentations are elegant and artful, just like the restaurant itself. My favorite entrée on the menu was the Sea Bass served in a lobster broth accompanied by carrots, leeks, radish and chili oil. Finish off your meal with the Carrot Cake and savour Chef Mitchell’s twist on the traditional favorite.

An interesting fact about the city is that it is home to the 3rd largest number of fashion designers in the United States, behind New York and Los Angeles, due to the fact that L Brands is headquartered in Columbus. Local businessman Les Wexner founded the company in 1963 and has grown the fashion empire to include brands like Victoria’s Secret, Express, The Limited, Abercrombie & Fitch and Bath & Body Works. Although some of the brands have been spun off or sold, they have all called Columbus home. And where there are fashion designers, there are also models. Lot and lots of models. The eye candy is one of the city’s strong points.

If you are looking for an easy, affordable and fun city to visit, check out Columbus. You may be surprised at what this city has to offer, and you may keep coming back to experience its warmth and hospitality.

Enjoy the Journey!

Joey Amato is the publisher of Pride Journeys, a website dedicated to LGBTQ travel. Joey has spent over a decade in LGBTQ media and public relations and currently resides in Indianapolis, Indiana. He can be reached at joey@pridejourneys.com 

Staying Visible & Vital: Mr & Miss HIV Awareness Pageant 2019

Community Matters

By Sebastian Fortino

This Sunday, May 5th, from 5:00 PM until 9:30 Darcelle XV’s showplace in Old Town will host the Mr & Miss HIV Awareness Pageant. The event is owned by local Allen Cole, known by his stage persona as Cheralyn Michaels.

“The status of the contestant is irrelevant..but HIV is not,” he says on the group’s Facebook page. He defines the event as: “a pageant to spread awareness of HIV/AIDS through education.”

The event promises five miss entries, and three entries for mister. Cole is bringing Sabel Scities, the newly crowned Miss Gay Dallas, along with La Femme Plus International, Vivica Valentine as co-mistresses of ceremonies. The local Portland news is also taking notice. In fact, KOIN 6 news anchor Jennifer Hoff will act as a special guest judge.

The crowns of Mister and Miss will be passed from the current title holders, Don Hood and Chartreuse O’Hara to the new recipients this Sunday. ProudTimes will certainly follow-up letting you know who won the crown, and what they hope to bring to their roles for the next year.

Mister HIV Awareness, Don Hood, took some time to talk about his involvement and what the experience meant to him. Previously, he has served as Mr Oregon Leather. Hood was proud to wear the sash and crown whenever and wherever he could, using the opportunity to speak to the about issues surrounding HIV. On a personal level, the title means the world to him.

“I was the first Mister,” he told ProudTimes. Adding, “and hopefully not the last as a person that is living with and is a survivor of HIV/AIDS. That puts a huge face on it.”

In terms of his service as the first titleholder, he said his biggest accomplishment was through music. The pair put on what they called an AIDS Concert.

“All the music that was performed had to be about HIV/AIDS or written by someone who had died or was living with it,” he said. “The concert was a big hit, it was everything that I wanted in a fundraiser–and more! We had two charities to raise funds for that night.”

The organizations which benefitted were the HIV Day Center, and Women of Wisdom, who are under the umbrella of the Quest Center. We raised over a thousand dollars, and were able to give each charity a little over five-hundred dollars each.”  

Hood is retired and lives with his husband and partner of over 20 years. He tells the upcoming winners to do as much in their role as they can, and says the most important thing for each winner is to have fun with the title.

“I am very proud of what we did,” Hood said referencing what he and his husband were able to raise for local charity.

The theme this year is “A” Scarlett Letter. ProudTimes will be there to see who wins the crowns. Check back in for a follow-up article next week. Be sure to check out the Mr & Miss HIV Awareness group on Facebook for information about the pageant on May 5th. As always, please email editor@proudtimes.com if you know of any upcoming events or fundraisers important to the LGBT community in the PNW.