Long Live the Tulip Queen


One of the few special events in Albany, NY is the annual Tulip Festival in Washington Park. The tradition dates back to 1948 when the city of Albany sent aid to the Dutch city of Nijmegen which was struggling to recover from the devastation of World War II.

To express their thanks, the Dutch sent tulips, and the annual Tulip Festival was born.

Part of the Tulip Festival tradition is the naming of a Tulip Queen. It used to be a beauty pageant, but has become more of a community-service pageant, and this year for the first time the queen is nonbinary: Sam Mills.

Photo by James Franco for the Times Union.

They (Sam’s pronoun) said they hope to inspire youth to express themselves freely. In an interview, Sam said:

“For me, it means I get to be a role model for kids who maybe have never seen a nonbinary person in a role like this. I can’t wait to help those kids who struggle with identity, because I did. And I’m proud I can be the person that they can look up to.”

Sam Mills, 2022 Tulip Queen

I wish Sam good luck in their role. Because if you’ve followed any news lately, you know the MAGA mob is coming to strip the rights from women, LGBTQ+, and any other non-white non-Christian non-male. We need more people like Sam Mills. We need their voices and their inspiration.

In the meantime, the tulips were spectacular, and offered a respite from everything that is not.

By David Klein

David Klein

Published novelist, creative writer, journalist, avid reader, discriminating screen watcher.


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