6 September Falaite
Phew we only just made it home for the Fakaleiti ball tonight… despite flight delays.
Wow what a night. Location at a lagoon side private bar was very spiffy. There were lots of fancy dresses and welcoming smiles… a unique and special evening.
I must say Kotoni did look pretty stunning ??!! in his Marilyn Monroe black satin ball gown complete with blonde wig and beauty spot. Home by midnight before we turned into pumpkins although the Fakaleitis wanted us to rock on we were not sure it would end up being our late night scene and Kotoni did feel a tad vulnerable in a frock even if he wasn’t showing as much leg as most of them… and my my what great legs they all had!
At the end of the night we gave a couple a lift into town. (One – Mark was a hairdresser… of course!!) he/she commented that when first arriving and spotting Kotoni in the crowd…”I thought to myself… My my that is the hairiest woman I have ever seen… Oh no it is a man!!!” We are still not sure if that is a compliment or not!!!
The Ball dancing was superb and Fatima looked amazing in her kilt and 6 inch white boots.
So what exactly is a leiti?
A new Tongan newspaper came out this week and one of the interesting articles was on leitis so thought I would share this with you as it is a concept that can be a tad complex for palangis (whities) not living in Tonga to get their head around.
“They face a lot of discrimination because of who they are… There are men who are attracted to the same sex and men who feel they are more like women than men in all Pacific countries.
In the west these men would be regarded as homosexual or as transgender. However these terms do not align neatly with these Pacific categories of gender and sexuality which are both more diverse and culturally unique.
There are a wide range of identities that are often particular to local Pacific cultures.
Local communities and organisation refer to themselves and others like them with unique, local, cultural terminology such as ‘fa’afaine’ in Samoa, ‘akava’ine’ in the Cook Islands and ‘fakaleiti’ in Tonga. The general term ‘leiti’ is the modern derivation of the English word ‘lady’ but is used more inclusively to include transgender, gay and bisexual men.
The Tongan Leiti Association is actively involved in health issues and the community to address violence and discrimination… They even hold bible study classes every week. The Princess’s daughter is the organisation’s patron. It is 21 years old and will be holding a fundraising ball on 6 September which we are attending.
The colourful leitis at ‘Ahopanilolo are very talented young people and help to create a colourful and fun atmosphere which we have grown to love. Their contribution to the cultural life of the school is embraced and supported which is so refreshingly positive and builds a sense of acceptance of difference and promotes social inclusion across the campus.