Photo from Equality Texas Website
We were shocked and saddened last night to learn of the death of Monica Katrice Roberts of Houston, Texas (May 4, 1962 – October 5, 2020). Details of her passing were initially sketchy, but apparently she died of natural causes. Houston television station ABC13 had this to say:
HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) By Miya Shay. 9 October, 2020.
A day after news broke of Texas transgender rights advocate Monica Roberts’ death, Eyewitness News has learned that she died just outside of her apartment earlier this week.
An initial police report indicated she may have been hit by a car, but now, friends and family say she died of natural causes.
“A lot of family members are shocked and devastated to what has happened,” said Monica’s younger brother Kevin Roberts. “We’re just really trying to take it all in, it’s really been a shock.”
Roberts mother told ABC13 on Friday that she had not been feeling well in recent days. Her mother said Roberts had been short of breath, but brushed off serious health concerns. Family members had encouraged her to get a COVID-19 test, but are not certain if that happened.
Monica was a fierce advocate for trans rights and an inspiration to trans people both young and old. Her TransGriot blog, begun in 2006, and her dedication to her work made her a foundational voice for trans people of color. Within minutes of the announcement of her death by her friend Dee Dee Watters, the internet began to fill with lamentations and tributes.
Monica was given many awards for her work, including the International Foundation for Gender Education’s Trinity Award (2006), a Special Recognition Award from GLAAD (2016), Phillip Brooks House Association’s Robert Coles “Call of Service” Award (2017), and The Human Rights Campaign’s John Walzel Equality Award (also in 2017). TransGriot was named Outstanding Blog at the GLAAD Media Awards (2018) and The National LGBTQ Task Force’s Susan J. Hyde Award for Longevity in the Movement (2020). She was named one of eight Houston women to watch on social media by Houstonia (2018) and one of the fifty heroes “leading the nation toward equality, acceptance, and dignity for all people” by Queerty (2020). (Wikipeia: Monica Roberts).
In 2015, Real Life Experiences, the nonprofit that produced Fantasia Fair, awarded Monica the Transgender Pioneer Award. She spent a week at the Fair, where she gave a keynote and impressed everyone in attendance with her dignity and dedication.
Monica was an inspiration to the entire trans community. She is gone, tragically and far too soon. Godspeed, Monica Roberts.
Last week the Fantasia Fair Planning Committee came to a painful decision.
It was a determination we didn’t want to make. It was a decision none of us thought we would ever have to make.
Our hearts told us the Fair must happen. Our heads, however, told us it couldn’t. The committee made a recommendation to the Board that Fantasia Fair 2020 be cancelled. The Board accepted the Committee’s recommendation.
How did we come by this decision and why did we make it?
There are a number of reasons. First, our demographics skew heavily toward older attendees. Many have health issues that would put them at particular risk if infected. The last thing anyone on the committee wanted to do was to jeopardize the health and well-being of anyone in the Fantasia Fair family–including ourselves.
Second, just about every event in Provincetown has been cancelled through the end of the summer. There will essentially be no summer season in Provincetown–and since businesses make almost all of their money between Memorial Day and Labor Day, the committee anticipated many establishments would go out of business and expected that many establishments that survived would close early, leaving Provincetown a virtual ghost town when we would arrive in late October. We could not be sure there would be venues for our larger events. Venues are difficult in Provincetown even in a good year.
And third, we were in a position to make a full refund of all registration monies. Had we pressed ahead and later been forced to cancel, deposits made for meeting space and meals would have made full refunds impossible–this due to deposits we routinely make when we travel to Provincetown in mid-May to make arrangements.
There has been a Fantasia Fair every year since 1975. It breaks our hearts to break this long tradition, but we knew we had to do it. And yes, we hate it every bit as much as you do.
The committee is already hard at work planning Fantasia Fair 2021. It’s going to be fabulous–as FanFair 2020 would have been had it not been for the pandemic.
We already miss our Fantasia Fair family. It’s going to be tough come October–and for that reason, we’re planning some virtual activities that will provide at least some continuation of the Fantasia Fair tradition and allow us all to see and talk to one another. It will be at a distance, on computer screens, but it will be great.
We’ll keep you informed as we make decisions about how do bring us together virtually. We hope you will participate.
So there it is. We know it sucks. We would give just about anything to make it some other way.
If you are preregistered for 2020, contact Fair Director Dee LaValle at firstname.lastname@example.org and request a refund–or, if you prefer, ask her to roll over your monies for Fantasia Fair 2021.
For Immediate Release
13 March, 2020
UPDATE ON THE COVID-19 VIRUS
Hi, everyone. We hope you are all well and taking precautions to stay that way.
We understand your concerns about your health and Coronavirus. Many of you are of an age or have health issues that put you at high risk. We are concerned about your health as well—and ours.
Covid-19 is now widespread around the world and spreading rapidly. Many large public gatherings have been cancelled and more are likely to be.
We cannot predict the future, but it seems likely things will get worse before they get better. Please be assured the leadership of Fantasia Fair is aware of this virus and its effects and is monitoring conditions in Provincetown and elsewhere. We will continue to look to health authorities in Provincetown and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the Centers for Disease Control and World Health Organization for guidance.
Fantasia Fair is seven months away. Should conditions warrant postponement or cancellation, we will let you know as soon as possible. It’s too early to make that call now, but if we do, we will extend the 100% refund period—so don’t be afraid to register. It’s your money, and you’ll a 100% refund if the Fair is unable to proceed as planned.
For now, we are continuing preparations for Fantasia Fair 2020. We hope the danger will be past and we will all be together in October.
In the meantime, please limit your exposure to crowds, wash your hands often, avoid touching your face, follow the advice of your physician and local authorities, and stay current with CDC advisories (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/index.html).
We are family. We will get through this.
By Jaelle Terrell
Two months ago, I went to Provincetown, Massachusetts with my friends, David and Jerry. No, because of David and Jerry. Provincetown, or Ptown, is a resort town all the way at the tip of Cape Cod. It is owned and operated largely by members of the LGBT community, and a well-known vacation spot for the nation’s LGBT citizens. I’ve known gay men who have gone there. It’s like a gay Mecca, or a bucket list item; perhaps every gay man should visit there once. Jerry and David are a married couple at the local LGBT Center who I have come to know and love.
They told me about this thing in Ptown called Tall Ships. What’s Tall Ships? Well, David said, imagine a town taken over by 6’ people. In 4” heels. Tall Ships. One week a year, Ptown is taken over by trans women. And some trans men. It’s called Fantasia Fair, and this year it was the 45th annual. People come from all over the country. There is a fashion show. A talent show. Open Mic Night. Writer’s workshops, panel discussions, hair and makeup workshops. Just… amazing. Next, I learn that David is a retired professor. His area of expertise is in gender roles and sexuality! He has gone to Fantasia Fair several times over the years, and knows and has worked with all the old grand dames. He says he has told the Fair’s founder, Ariadne Kane about me, and she wants to meet me. Me! What? How? Could you even?
With help from my dear friend Kathy, I got a week’s worth of dresses and fall wardrobe together. My friend Pam and I auditioned every outfit. Jewelry, shoes, bag. Everything. And with I think $140 to spend, I went. Kathy had warned me, don’t talk too much, don’t obsess, just be calm and let things flow. Leona quite simply said, don’t be you. Same thing. Sound advice.
David and Jerry collected me early the morning of our departure. There and back we drove 10-12 hours, stayed in a motel, and finished the journey with a 2-3 hour morning drive. The drive up the Cape was pretty glorious. All the names of the towns, businesses, and roads were just dripping with history. We could see the ocean and the bay from time to time out our right and left windows. As we got close to Ptown, I think I actually began to vibrate.
Provincetown, Massachusetts is a charming little town. The main street, Commercial, is just jammed with colorful shops and restaurants. It reminds me of the oceanside resort towns I haunted in southern California, like Venice Beach. But East Coast. The climate. The architecture. It was instantly fun. And gorgeous. And my patrons, my mentors, my spirit guides knew where to drive, where to park, where to register, everything.
We registered, we received itineraries, swag bags, and so on. The woman who checked us in was Dallas Denny. A goddess. A transgender pioneer. David introduced us. As Dallas and David chatted for a few minutes, I took a seat at a little group of chairs around a glass table. This woman was pontificating, about what I honestly don’t remember. Hello, I introduced myself. “My name is Jaelle.”
“Don’t you know who I am?” She asked me. No, I don’t. “I’m Mariette Pathy Allen,” she announced. She looked at me, waiting for… what? Recognition? Contrition? Apology? Well, I’m sorry, but I’m a bit of a smartass. I offered none of these things and waited for more revelation. “I’ve written four books,” she pronounced. “I’ve read four books,” I responded. I came to learn that she is a photographer, at times THE photographer for Fantasia Fair, and while not exclusively focused on the transgender community, her work is considered very important. She’s actually a lovely and interesting woman, and I found myself dancing with her late that Friday night.
Every hour of every day there were two or more events to choose from. Workshops, seminars, lunches. It was so active. So busy. So fun. David announced that we were having breakfast with Ariadne Kane the next morning.
Now let’s just take a minute here to discuss the food. Every breakfast, every lunch, and especially every dinner was, I don’t know, I’m just an ignorant old woman from Cleveland, but it was five star. Or five star-ish. I felt there was a chef looking over every plate that left every kitchen for every meal. Every vegetable seemed to have been picked, and every seafood caught that morning. Just the brightest, freshest flavors, beautifully prepared and presented. Every meal was just perfect.
After registration, we went to lunch at the Lobster Pot. As we sat at a table waiting for our food, a couple came in and sat at the next table. It was a trans woman and a cis woman. As they walked past, the trans woman put her hand on my shoulder and gave it a friendly squeeze. That little act of friendly kindness touched me. After a couple of minutes, I turned and greeted them. The cis woman beamed at me and said, “You look so different!” Reading my puzzled face, and studying me a little closer, she said “Oh! You’re not so-and-so!” Not for the last time that week, I was told how much I resembled someone. They were extremely pleasant and fun, and I felt that we became fast friends. They told me they had been married for years. In fact, their marriage predated her wife’s transition. As it turned out, they were holding one of the seminars. She had written a book entitled I Married A Woman, documenting their journey through life and marriage. A delightful couple.
David and Jerry had procured us rooms right in the center of the activities. Right in the middle! A wonderful suite of rooms, like an Airbnb apartment. The next morning, we met Ariadne Kane for breakfast. She had already arrived and was seated at a table for eight. Introductions were made, and she told everyone where to sit. You sit there. You sit there. Jerry, you sit there. No, no, there. She sat me on her left. Obviously, planning and organizing are in her DNA. Breakfast was delightful, as everyone shared common memories and remembered persons past.
The week went quickly. Not hurriedly, not frenetic, but at a lively pace. I attended Sephora beauty workshops. I can now do a smoky eye! I attended writer’s workshops. It was amazing. I met women from Los Angeles to London. The Gala, the talent night, and the Fashion Show were so much fun. There was an Open Mic night, and I got this crazy idea to perform. For the first time in my life, at 65 years old, I did a stand-up routine. It was so much fun.
There are three or four restaurants providing lunches each day. You are to choose them at registration and you receive a ticket for that particular lunch for each day. I was chatting with one of the volunteers one day who said they were collecting tickets in a restaurant for lunch that day. Ariadne Kane breezed in, greeted someone or other, and sat at their table. “Oh my god!,” the volunteer thought. “I’m responsible for collecting the tickets. Am I to go ask her for hers? What if she doesn’t have one?” I said, “No. When Anna Wintour shows up at Fashion Week, no one asks her for a ticket.”
The bottom line is, Provincetown is sumptuous. Fantasia Fair is a glorious event, and should indeed be on every transgender woman’s, and man’s, bucket list. It’s entertaining, educational, and beautiful. I am truly standing on the shoulders of Dallas Denny, Mariette Pathy Allen, Ariadne Kane, and all the beautiful women who built this fabulous, now 46-year-old event.
We are looking for someone with accounting experience to serve as Treasurer for Fantasia Fair. We are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit which has held a small (120-150 attendees) trans conference every October since 1975.
We have a bookkeeper to enter expenses and receipts. The Treasurer would be responsible to prepare a monthly review, file an annual report with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and work with our accountant to do annual taxes.
We use the computer program QuickBooks and store financial records on the cloud for easy access by authorized members. We would like the Treasurer to activate some features of the program we have not yet had the expertise to put into operation.
Depending upon time requirements and performance, the Treasurer position might qualify for reduced or deferred registration rates at Fantasia Fair.
If you’re interested in the position, please contact Fair Director Dee LaValle at email@example.com.