Above: Torres Strait Island SistaGirls ready for Sydney Mardi Gras, from left: Andrea Tipungwuti, Ainsley Kerinaiua, Nicole Miller, Shem Alimankinni, and Buffy Warlapinni
Every tribe needs its own queen. This September, the northern Australian city of Darwin will witness the crowning of Miss First Nation in the world's first pageant for indigenous drag queens and sistagirls (a moniker for Aboriginal transgender women). Launched by drag queen Miss Ellaneous, the event will showcase the talent of local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander queens and trans women.
"Generally though there is a lack of opportunity and/or showcasing platforms for these queens and sistagirls," Ellaneous told Gay Star News. "I feel that nationally there is still a lack of understanding and education around Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people including their culture, heritage, and history. We are still a deeply racist country that has not made peace with the past atrocities. It's hard enough just being black, so imagine being black, queer, and a drag queen."
According to the Australian Broadcasting Company, the indigenous community hasn't always been accepting either. "It took decades of fighting for recognition and several suicides before the Northern Territory's Tiwi Islands community finally accepted a group of Aboriginal transgender women," ABC reports.
Earlier this year, a group of 30 sistagirls traveled nearly 2,500 miles to participate in Sydney's Mardi Gras "to showcase our culture and our people," Crystal Johnson told ABC. "[And] how Tiwi people evolved in this generation. How we became stronger in our community."
Miss Ellaneous's event, Queens--the Ultimate Drag Crown, will be a five-day affair coinciding with Darwin, Australia's Pride festival in September. The city has a large population of indigenous people and played host to the Asia Pacific Outgames in 2014. "Darwin is a wild town," Ellaneous says, "And it's true, behind the scenes the queens always find a way of running the town."