by Clayton Mercieca with footage from Queer Mediterranean Memories and Soraya Queen Youtube Channel
Our younger LGBTIQ+ generation is now familiar with New York's Ballroom culture thanks to the popular TV show POSE and look at it with certain fervour and yet with sadness that in Malta we don't have something similar.
Yet, Malta had its own queer competition shows since the early 1970s with mostly trans-identifying individuals taking centre stage.
Miss Easter, a profane prelude to the religious seasons, took place in 1968/1969. Controversy immediately beset the event when Miss Easter decided to mingle with the guests to extend the season's greetings to them, wearing nothing but a ribbon bow tied around their scrotum.
Miss Banda was also a very popular event which grew out of the gay bottle parties, then common in Malta. The first pageant was said to have been held around the early 1970s as well. They settled for a drag show with three costume changes - evening, casual and swimwear. At the inaugural Miss Banda, seven contestants vied for the first prize. Some made a mockery of the event by wearing mops died in yellow as wigs whereas others took it seriously with lavish gowns and imported wigs. Around 24 men, a few lesbians and some foreigners, watched the first beauty pageant unfold.
Fiorella a trans women was the winner of the first miss banda.
Thanks to Soraya Queen, we were able to uncover further pageants which took place over the years, including: Miss Star in 2005, Miss New Banda (2006), Miss Trans Queen (2010) and Miss My Bar (2011) all briefly displayed in this video edit.
Chetcuti, J. C. (2009). Queer Mediterranean Memories - penetrating the secret history and silence of gay and lesbian disguise in the Maltese archipelago. Australia: Lygon Street Legal Services.