Leitis in Waiting

Leitis in Waiting ( Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu, Dean Hamer & Joe Wilson, 2018) is the story of Joleen Mataele and the Tonga leitis, a group of native trans women fighting a rising tide of religious fundamentalism and intolerance in their South Pacific Kingdom. The film follows Joleen as she organises the Miss Galaxy Pageant, provides shelter and training for a young contestant rejected by her family, and spars with American-financed evangelicals threatening to resurrect colonial-era laws that would criminalize the leitis’ lives.

We are so thrilled to be joined by Joleen Mataele for our Q&A. Joleen is a leader in the LGBTQI and human rights movements in the Pacific. She co-founded the Tonga Leiti’s Association in 1992, and developed the Miss Galaxy Pageant as an annual event to support it. She co-founded and currently chairs the Pacific Sexual and Gender diversity Network, is the Pacific Island Representative for the International Gay and Lesbian Association, and chairperson of the South Pacific MSM Network Group. Joleen is also a talented singer and entertainer who understands the importance of oral culture and the role of song, humour and dance in Pacific cultures.

A film made by the same team that did Kapahemau, screened in November 2022.