by Mikki Whitworth
When academics talk about discrimination, they claim the greatest difference between race, sex and sexual orientation is legacy. People who grow up as any minority other than LGBT know they have a built-in support system that has walked in their shoes with their families. The Royal Court of the Golden Spike Empire works to maintain a legacy that it provides through its annual Coronation, which they hold each Memorial Day weekend. To fully understand the nature of the Court and Coronation, I spoke with Emperor I, Pepper Prespentt, Emperor XXXVI, Michael Bennion and candidate for Emperor XXXVII, Nick Watts.
Who is the court for?
According to Pepper, the Court is for her community. Michael and Nick echo her sentiments. But who is “her community?” This is one area where all of them seem to squirm just a little when trying to define categories until they come to a conclusion that “everyone” is the community they serve. There is no doubt for these three people that service and giving back are vital to why they chose to become leaders in the Court.
The public faces of the Court are the drag queens, but behind the scenes, there are gay men, lesbians, transgender folks and heterosexuals. From the beginning of Salt Lake City’s Court, they have embraced a diverse community. Discrimination is not tolerated by the Court. Gender and sexual orientation are not defining factors either. Women have been emperors and princes. Actually, the first female emperor in the International Court System was Pepper. The third empress of the Court, Carole Martindale was heterosexual. Both Carole and Pepper exemplify the character of the organization.
Why spend $10 to join the court?
Each member receives a monthly newsletter announcing Court events. It is an opportunity to meet new people who want to have fun and help people at the same time. The three emperors each refers to the group as a family. Pepper invites everyone to join the Court family. As any family, they sometimes squabble, but in the end they are able to help others in need.
Membership fees become part of the Court’s general fund. The general fund pays for the expenses necessary to keep the organization running such as a post office box, storage unit and insurance. Monarchs are expected to travel to other courts’ coronations during their reigns and the general fund pays for this requirement. The Court also has funds to assist people with AIDS or cancer, a fund for emergency assistance and a scholarship fund. Unlike the general fund, the other funds are focusing on helping individuals and come from fundraising performances.
Want to see more?
On May 27, the Court holds Coronation XXXVII in the Red Lion Hotel Ballroom. The doors open at 5 p.m. and the show starts at 6. This year’s theme celebrates the past by highlighting Reigns VI, XVI and XXVI. Tickets are on sale now at all Court events, during voting and at the door and cost $40. Pepper, Michael and Nick invite you to join them to meet your extended Court family.
Mikki Whitworth is a junior at Westminster College pursuing a degree in English with a creative writing emphasis. She is a disabled veteran.