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Local beauty crowed Miss Island Goddess 2023 - 2024

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Originally from Pago Pago, Paris Mae Mackie Te'o Yandall was crowned the new Miss Island Goddess 2023 - 2024 at the Federal Way Performing Arts and Events Center in Seattle, Washington on Saturday, March 11, 2023. 

In addition to winning the title, Paris Mae also took home first place in the Best National Wear and Best Question & Answer categories. 

Other contenders and their placings include first-runner up Diamond St. James, second runner-up Stacey Jacobs, Tallahassee Mauga who won Best in Swimwear, Vina Leuta who took home Best in Talent and Miss Photogenic, Aesthetic Ammy and Christina Doll. 

The contestants’ national wear showcased extravagant and larger-than-life symbols of their respective cultures paired with narration and music. Each of the contestants’ talent presentations highlighted their unique skills in dance, lip sync, and overall stage presence. In addition to the jaw-dropping red-carpet gowns for evening wear with added surprise reveals and choreography, each contestant showcased their intelligence and current events knowledge during the question & answer segment. Questions ranged from environmental issues, anti-trans laws, HIV and LGBTQ+ concerns.

Miss Tallahassee Mauga presenting her garment for the National Wear category at the Miss Island Goddess event. Miss Mauga hails from Nu'uuli, American Samoa and is a longtime member of the UTOPIA Washington branch. [photo: UTOPIA Washington]

The annual Miss Island Goddess Pageant hosts hundreds of people from all around the world who gather under one roof to celebrate its beautiful and diverse community to witness drag pageantry through a cultural lens. Miss Island Goddess gives a platform for not just the Faʻafafine community, but all the queer, trans and gender diverse communities of color.

The event was organized and led by the United Territories of Pacific Islander Alliance (UTOPIA), “a color-led, grassroots organization born out of the struggles, challenges, strength and resilience of the Queer and Trans Pacific Islander community in South King County based in Seattle, Washington. 

Formerly known as the Miss UTOPIA International Pageant, UTOPIA Executive Director, Taffy Maene Johnson shared that the change was ”not only to be able to trademark our pageant name, but to provide a visible platform for our Queer and Trans Pacific Islanders and LGBTQ individuals to be visible, display their beauty, knowledge, and talents.” 

“Pageantry has a deep history in [the] Pacific Islander community and platforms are growing to provide space and elevation of our Queer and Transgender Pacific Islander community”, stated Johnson, and as founder, she views the pageant as an “edition to history and culture that our community can be proud to participate in and assist in the amplification of our community and organization’s mission and vision.”

Brandon Fuamatu, the event organizer and UTOPIA Development Manager was especially proud of the outcome stating, “We saw this fabulous community come together in full force, not only to compete, but to support one another and continue to build and gather our QTPI family together. This was an absolutely successful pageant and crowning of a new Miss Island Goddess 2023!”

Miss UTOPIA Alaska Tai Mauga 2023-2024 during her taualuga siva performance at the Miss Island Goddess event to support their sister branch in UTOPIA Washington [photo: UTOPIA Washington]

UTOPIA Washington has provided over ten years of service, advocacy and fostering self-confidence to 2-Spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) Native Hawaiian and Indigenous Pasifika people, also known as Queer and Trans Pacific Islanders (QTPIs) in Washington. Since 2009, youth, adults, and elders have come to UTOPIA from all levels of society and at various stages of their journey of self-discovery. 

UTOPIA Washington is the only local 501(c)(3) organization devoted to Queer and/or Trans and Gender Diverse Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders in the area. The organization has grown immensely in a short amount of time, and continues to advocate and champion the QTPI-BIPOC communities in Washington.

In addition, UTOPIA offers services and programs with Community & Cultural Organizing, Peer Support, Basic Needs, Health & Harm Reduction, Legal & Immigration, including the Mapu Maia Clinic that also offers gender affirming care and vaccine access, among other health-related care. For more information about UTOPIA, please visit them online at www.utopiawa.org or via 253-478-3941 and mail@utopiawa.org.