Two of the CNMI’s LGBT advocates—T-Project founder Tyra Lyn Sablan and Sharmaine Noel Casquero—have been chosen by the editors of the American LGBT+ magazine The Advocate to be featured on its list of “Champions of Pride 2021 From the Territories.”
Sablan and Casquero were joined on the Champions of Pride list by human rights activist Tuisina Ymania Brown of American Samoa, former Guam Supreme Court chief justice and Guam senator Benjamin ”BJ” Cruz, Guam lieutenant governor Joshua F. Tenorio, and resort operators Ted Bedwell and Chris Richardson of the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Sablan, who described herself during her interview with The Advocate as a “proud 41-year-old Asian-Pacific-Islander transgender woman,” took initiative when she saw that the CNMI was low-ranking in regards to protections for its LGBT residents. As such, she brought the need for anti-discrimination and hate crime laws to the attention of the CNMI Legislature. Additionally, Sablan is the founder of T-Project CNMI, a trans-led nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting and creating safe spaces for the CNMI’s LGBT community.
Casquero, who is described by The Advocate as a “50-year-old gay femme Filipina,” was responsible for the first organized Pride event in the CNMI in 2018, hosting a celebration at the GIG Discotheque and Bossano Bar in Garapan. Furthermore, Casquero has organized many LGBT beauty pageants in the CNMI and, as a member of the Saipan Unity Lions Club, has regularly given back to the community and those in need. “As a person who grew up being not rich, I’ve learned to share what I have with other people,” said Casquero in her interview with The Advocate.
She later told Saipan Tribune that being chosen by the magazine was an honor and a great privilege. Notably, she said no one nominated her or Sablan for the recognition, and that it was The Advocate that reached out to her and told her that they are being considered for the honor.
The Advocate’s other picks from the U.S. territories describes Tenorio as the first openly-gay lieutenant governor in the nation; Brown as a trans woman who was a corporate lawyer turned full-time human rights activist; and Bedwell and Richardson as operators of Sand Castle on the Beach Resort on the island of St. Croix, regarded as one of the most LGBT-friendly resorts on the island.
The Advocate is an American, bi-monthly, LGBT-interest magazine that describes itself as “the world’s leading source of LGBT news and information.” Currently, it has a readership of approximately 200,000.
The article on its picks for “Champions of Pride 2021 From the Territories” can be found at advocate.com.