“We are only as strong as we are united, as weak as we are divided”
Truth be told, June is one of my absolute favorite months. It’s officially summer, the days get longer, and it’s also LGBTQA+ Pride Month. This year was particularly special but we’ll get to that shortly.
First off, June started with an opportunity to judge the Miss Bastille pageant. Ten years ago, MGMA 1983 and MGA 1989, Vicki Vincent, and MGMA 2007, Jade Sinclair, started the “Biggest show on the smallest stage” and it’s still going strong today. Many well-known entertainers, including multiple MGAs have graced a stage that measures approximately 5’ wide. Due to space limitations, contestants are limited to a solo performance for talent and primarily hand-held props. From a pool of four contestants, Karma T. Cassidy, Joe Paparic, and myself, selected Tiffany T. Hunter as Miss Bastille 2017. With a heart-baring talent number chronicling the struggles and triumphs of the LGBTQA+ community, Tiffany captivated the crowd and won the crown. Brooklyn Burroughs, a novice queen with oodles of potential, was named First Alternate.
I’m sure you’ve heard of RuPaul’s Drag Race. It’s a reality television show that has revolutionized the world of female illusion. Alongside the new Miss Bastille and Makena Knight, I had the pleasure of working with Chi Chi DeVayne, a cast member of RPDR Season 8, at The Monocle. Chi Chi was an absolute joy to be around and it was fascinating to hear her behind-the-scenes stories from filming the show and also of her travels and experiences after filming. Entertainment is an ever-evolving industry and to stay relevant we must continue to evolve ourselves. I’m thankful for the opportunity to perform alongside such a diverse group of individuals and I get to have such a great time doing it!
Next up, it was off to Mexico, Missouri to watch the Miss Missouri pageant. This was a special year for us as our very own Miss Missouri 2016, Erin O’Flaherty, was the first openly gay contestant to compete at Miss America. I love pageantry, and have a very special place in my heart for the Miss America Organization, so the opportunity to be there to cheer for Erin in her final week was rather exciting. We know that there can only be one winner in pageantry, so in just over two hours, through four onstage categories, we watched the judges search for that one girl to wear the crown for this year. At the end of the evening, Miss Jackson, Jennifer Leigh Davis, was selected as Miss Missouri 2017.
“Stay true to yourself. You don’t have to please everyone. That’s a really big burden to bear.”
I’ve really tried to focus on slowing down and enjoying the world around me, living fully in each moment, and cherishing the time I get to spend with the people I love. As PrideFest 2017 drew closer, I decided that I wanted to walk the parade. I will only get the chance to be Miss Gay Missouri America one time and I wanted to be so completely immersed in the experience that I didn’t miss a moment. The hugs and handshakes I received from the crowd filled my heart with so much joy. Thank you to St. Louis for giving me a place to truly call home.
Without a doubt, the greatest moment of the entire weekend was getting the opportunity to meet and chat with Laura Bell Bundy. I’ve been a fan since her Tony-nominated performance as Elle Woods in Legally Blonde: The Musical in 2007. I’d already decided what I wanted to perform for talent competition at Miss Gay Missouri America last year, so when the announcement was made that we could change talent productions from preliminary to final night, I was stumped as to what to choose. I wanted a number that I felt matched me as an entertainer and that I loved to perform. Eventually, I decided on a Laura Bell Bundy song, “Giddy on Up”. A few weeks ago, I tweeted a short clip of that number, and when Laura retweeted it, commenting that she loved it, I nearly passed out. I’m sure you can imagine how much I fan-girled when she strolled by backstage.
“I’d be missing out on a lot of love if it wasn’t for the LGBT community”
As we march forward into the rest of the year, I hope that we can continue to spread love and acceptance everywhere we go. When it feels like there’s hate surrounding us, we just have to love stronger. For every hateful word or action, there’s an ally waiting with a hug or encouragement. Choose to focus on the love. We are stronger together.
The MGMA 2018 competition officially kicks off with two preliminaries this month! I hope you’ll be able to join us as a competitor or spectator.
Miss Gay River City America
July 1, 2017 Grey Fox Pub
Promoter: Jade Sinclair
Miss Gay Show Me Pride America
“A Gatsby Affair”
July 22, 2017 Missie B’s
Promoters: Kyla Breeze and Mulan
Mark Your Calendars!
Miss Gay Art of the Illusion America
“Paint Your Destiny”
August 19, 2017 The Arts Asylum
Promoters: Regina La-Rae, Kevin Austin, Courtney Cave-Perry, and Korey Childs
Miss Gay Kansas City America
“Welcome to Neverland”
September 16, 2017 The Arts Asylum
Promoters: L’Oreal, Grover Vermillion, and Matt De Freece
Miss Gay Metropolitan America
“Back to School”
September 30, 2017 Grey Fox Pub
Promoter: Adria Andrews