Life in a small town in conservative Texas and a straight-laced military career on top of that didn’t give Fidel Morin many chances to be himself. That’s the main reason he became passionate about the Imperial Court he discovered there and has continued since moving to Washington three years ago.
“It’s always been enjoyable to see how people throw themselves into the various roles,” says the 45-year-old Mathis, Texas native and former Emperor of the Court. “There’s the great social part of it, sort of a family outside of your family who’s gay. … It was just so much fun back in Texas where I never really blended in, to go be part of this group where I could be who I wanted to be.”
Started in 1965 by the legendary gay activist Jose Sarria, who died last year at the age of 90, the Court bills itself as the second-largest LGBT organization in the world behind the Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches. Curiously, though, Washington didn’t get its chapter until 2011, Morin says. In just a few years, it’s taken off with about 60 members. All but four are LGBT. About half participate in drag, though Morin is “on the male side,” he says.
This weekend, the chapter has its Galas of the Americas event at the Marriott Metro Center (775 12th St., N.W.) where this year’s emperor and empress will be crowned. The public is invited to attend the 7 p.m. event. Tickets ($100) are available at galaoftheamericas.org. All money the group raises goes to charity. Last year when Morin was emperor, he says the chapter gave $25,000 away, money raised mostly through drag shows. Money went to the Mautner Project, Casa Ruby and other local LGBT non-profits.
Morin, a veteran, works by day as a defense contractor. He and Alex Ceron, his husband of a year, live together in Alexandria with Lady B, their 18-year-old cat. Morin enjoys ranching and working on Imperial Court events in his free time.
How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?
Out to God and country – 14 years , when I retired from the military. Out to myself and closeted – 30 years.
Who’s your LGBT hero?
Jose Julio Sarria
What’s Washington’s best nightspot, past or present?
17th Street and the up-and-coming 14th Street
Describe your dream wedding.
Had it. I was married the day I stepped down as Emperor I of the Imperial Court of Washington. A year to the date after I was proposed to on the evening of me being crowned Emperor I.
What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?
If you want change, go to the polls and vote.
What historical outcome would you change?
“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” I wished it had never occurred. The military lost many valuable individuals.
What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?
Various individual identity crises we’ve seen, due to not being true to ourselves. Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky, Sen. Larry Craig and the bathroom scandal. Also the Catholic Church and the clergy abuse scandals.
On what do you insist?
Be proud of who you are.
What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?
Join us for “Gala of the Americas” Coronation III.
If your life were a book, what would the title be?
“Squirrel – Out and About”
If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?
Stay the same.
What do you believe in beyond the physical world?
There is a more powerful being out there looking down on us.
What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?
Remember that we are fighting for the same rights, be it gay rights, transgender rights, lesbian rights, white rights, Hispanic rights — we must be equal!
What would you walk across hot coals for?
Equality for all. I spent 20 years in the military defending those rights for ALL America.
What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?
The difference in how we treat each other. You’re a twink gay, you’re a bear, you’re a lesbian, you’re transgender. Hello – we are still an LGBT family fighting for equality. Why stereotype each other?
What’s your favorite LGBT movie?
“To Wong Foo”
What’s the most overrated social custom?
What trophy or prize do you most covet?
Being elected and crowned as the first Emperor of the Imperial Court of Washington.
What do you wish you’d known at 18?
That saving money at the time was a good thing.
This is where work brought me, but what a great melting pot of people.