American Samoa Fa‘afafine Group Hosts First Pride Festival

SOFIAS celebrate ‘third gender’ at 2 day event

By Tony Gasu

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (The Samoa News, Augsut 9, 2016) – The Sosaiete O Fa'afafine I Amerika Samoa (S.O.F.I.A.S) hosted their first ever Pride Festival in the territory this past weekend – a two-day event that celebrated all of American Samoa’s communities, while highlighting the fa’afine community. It started last Thursday with the official opening at the Su'igaula Park, which included a Trade Fair, entertainment, and a Kids Zone for the youngsters of the territory.

Then this past Friday night, SOFIAS hosted a Pride Festival Competition, between the SOFIAS members from the East and from the West – a night that will continue to be a ‘must see’ for future SOFIAS Pride Festivals.

Masters of Ceremony during the Pride Fest last Friday evening at the Gov. H. Rex Lee Auditorium, William “Will” Thompson said, “Everyone thought that this was going to be a pageant, but they didn't know for sure.”

She added, "The one thing that we're really known for are pageants – one thing about pageants is that, you always have a certain amount of people that can represent in the front, but there's a whole bunch of them in the back – tonight they will be represented tonight on stage, they will be in the front.”

According to Ms. Thompson, the focus and goal of this first ever SOFIAS Pride Festival is “celebrating the lives of Fa'afafines.” She said "out there in the communities, whether in your church or schools or anything – in the background there's always a fa'afafine there, helping out, organizing, and playing behind the scenes most of the time.”

She paid tribute to the creator of the SOFIAS Pride Festival — saying, “hats off to our reigning Miss SOFIAS Jayleen Chun, for her platform of this fa'afafine festival.”

During her speech to thank the community for their support of this first ever SOFIAS Pride Festival, Ms. Chun said, “What started off as a dream has become a reality – back in April’s pageant, all the contestants including myself had to come up with a platform of what we would do if we ended up being the winner.”

She said, “The fa'afafine festival was one of my ideas for my platform, and so thankfully for the support of our organization we were able to complete this project — through the grace of God and prayers, we were able to initiate this and make it happen.”

Acknowledging the people and communities of American Samoa, Ms. Chun said in her speech, “tThank you to all of you especially all those individuals out there that put in – we the SOFIAS are so blessed to live on an island where being a fa'afafine is tolerated, and also appreciated, they've recognized us as members of the family, village, government.”

She continued, “Thank you so much for your love to lead us to being able to be ourselves – allowing us to express our talents through creativity, through shows like this and our pageants. We would also like to thank our villages, our churches, our communities, our families – your love and support is recognized and it makes us proud to be a fa'afafine, thank you.”

Performing to a packed crowd, the results of the competition are as follows:

 The first category of the night — Creature Couture — had both the East and West participants in their best-dressed costumes representing fish, bird, and insect. The East Side bird and insect both claimed winning trophies in their categories, but it was the West side Fish that won the competition.

The second category – Song Competition — required the competitors to remake or create a rendition of a Samoan Song, with the blend and twist of four types of voices, and this category was won by the West side SOFIAS members.

The third category — Contemporary Siva — which required both groups to choreograph a dance routine that mixes modern dance and Samoan siva —was also won by the West side SOFIAS group.

The final category of the evening — the Poetic Choral Recital — required both groups to come out with their best choral recital performance of "Phenomenal Women" a poem by Maya Angelou – and this category was awarded to the East side SOFIAS.

The overall winner of the event was announced to be just a mere three-point difference to claiming the first Pride Festival title – it was the East side SOFIAS group.

The Samoa News
Copyright © 2016. The Samoa News. All Rights Reserved

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