Tag Archives: lgbt

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.

Salem-based Writer Discusses Identity & Inspiration

Celebrating Women’s History Month 2019

By Domina Alexandra

We all assume to know who we are as people–and who our colleagues, parents, friends are deep down inside. Being all those things and more, the question we sometimes forget to ask, is who are we as women? Are you a feminist? Are you butch? Or do you identify as being femme? Young or old our identity as women–and queer women–is important to our identity.

As a woman and writer, here’s my thoughts. I use to question my identity as a woman, only because I wanted to date them. And growing up sheltered and forced to believe being a lesbian was wrong, I thought, “If I became a man, my problem was solved.” We all handle life experiences differently. We resist who we are as women to please society.

I can say, I am proud to be a woman and it was other women who inspired me over the years to accept myself. Finding my identity as a woman helped me find my identity as a lesbian and writer. It was other queer, and non-queer, writers that inspired me to become the woman I am now! A woman proud to write lesbian fantasy romances.

The first writer I ever read while the accepting myself as a woman was Patricia Briggs. She writes about a world where a woman can be strong and face dangerous beings without having some strong superpower or enhanced strength. As if her character, Mercy Thompson could be any one of us. After reading her books, I knew I could stand on my own two feet.

From Patricia Briggs, I jumped into queer writing, in the midst of acknowledging myself as an out lesbian. Gerri Hill’s book, ‘Hunters Way,’ was all the confirmation I needed to be a proud queer woman. She writes about women of power and voice, leadership and passion. Women who are capable of taking care of themselves. I only inspire to a better writer and woman.


I asked Patricia Briggs in March at the Emerald City Comic Con, “How does she escape the world she creates for her characters? That as a writer, I can get lost in that fantasy that is safer than the real world.”


She replied, “It’s normal for us as writers to linger and think about our characters from time to time. Do some laundry and stop, wanting to go back to the world we created. We have to leave that world and go back to our own. To spend time with family and friends. To not lose our identity as a person.”

It is easy to forget our personal lives, what defines us, even when writing. It was rewarding to finally meet Patricia Briggs and be reminded of how I came to talk to her in person. It was me finding my place as a woman and a writer!

This Women’s History Month: Ask yourself, who are you as a woman? And what woman inspires you? Domina Alexandra is a writer and EMT based in Salem, OR. She has penned three books, Her Endure, I Belong with Her, and most recently, A Night Claimed. The novels are available for purchase on her Amazon writer’s page.