“This is for you, I made this for you.”
The crowd was smaller and there were temperature checks for attendees, but the show went on: Mexico’s Valentina Fluchaire was crowned as the winner of what is billed as the world’s biggest transgender pageant yesterday in Pattaya.
To allay fears over the Covid-19 coronavirus, the entire venue in the seaside resort town was disinfected the day before the event by staff in protective suits. Organisers advised anyone who felt unwell not to attend.
Unlike many events cancelled around the world since the coronavirus outbreak, the Miss International Queen 2020 pageant went ahead, although the crowd was markedly smaller than those of previous years, and there were many empty seats.
All contestants had their temperatures taken with hand scanners before being allowed to go onstage in their national costumes, swimsuits and glamourous evening gowns.
Fluchaire hailed her victory as “a win for all trans-women in Latin America.”
The second and third place went to contestants from Brazil and Thailand.
Thailand was the first country outside China to record an infection with the new coronavirus, but with only 50 cases recorded so far, it is no longer even in the 20 worst affected countries.
With the infection rate slowing in China as well, the Chinese contestant hailed efforts to stop the spread of the virus there.
“I’m so proud of my country. It’s like a lesson for everyone, for the earth, we can get through it,” said the contestant, who gave her name just as Lacey to conceal her identity.
The annual pageant was in its fifteenth year. Thailand has built a reputation as a place with a relaxed attitude toward gender and sexual diversity since homosexuality was decriminalized here in 1956.
But activists say LGBT people still face discrimination and stigma in schools, the workplace and health facilities, and are often rejected by their families.