Nearly 50 contestants will compete in the latest edition of Miss Gay America, taking place on 3-6 October in St. Louis Missouri.
A flamboyant, provocative Miss America for female impersonators, the pageant is one of the oldest in the US.
The current titleholder is Deva Station, all the way from Columbus, Ohio. Crowned last year in New Orleans, the queen explained why the pageant still resonates with people in 2018.
‘Miss Gay America remains extremely relevant for many reasons, not the least of which is its 47th year legacy of excellence in the art of female impersonation,’ she told GSN.
‘Since its inception in 1972, over 10,000 men have competed for the Miss Gay America crown.’
And a woman. Lady Gaga was crowned as the first Honorary Miss Gay America in 2017. She’s ‘the first without a penis,’ as the organizers put it.
Miss Gay America and RPDR
Miss Gay America was there when RuPaul’s Drag Race wasn’t even in the works. At the time of its inception, in fact, RuPaul was only 12.
Is Miss Gay America still thriving in the age of RPDR? Deva Stations explained the two have more in common than you might think.
‘Many of the biggest stars to appear on RuPaul’s Drag Race are pageant queens, several of which are former Miss Gay America titleholders,’ she said.
‘In fact, many return after their stint on Drag Race, to compete in Miss Gay America. This year, we have Alexis Mateo, who appeared on RPDR3, competing next week as Miss Gay Florida America 2018.’
‘Drag Race, like Miss Gay America, follows the traditional pageant model. Both have contestants, judges, completion categories, and a crowned winner substantial prize package. This year’s Miss Gay America prize package is valued at over $50,000,’ she also said.
The pageant community is a sisterhood
Furthermore, Deva Station highlighted how the drag pageant isn’t just a contest.
‘Drag pageantry is also relevant due to the long history of drag in the gay community,’ she said.
‘From spearheading civil rights protests, leading parades, and chairing charity fund-raisers, to providing entertainment for the community from within the community.’
In the 70s, the pageant provided a beam of hope to many who loved performing in drag when it wasn’t as widely accepted as it is today.
‘Pageantry is also relevant on a deeply personal level for the contestants, many of whom have been rejected by their families, struggled with depression, and been victims of hate crimes,’ she said.
‘[It] has saved lives. As a surrogate family, a “sisterhood”, pageant communities provide support, friendship, self-esteem and professional skills such as time management, attention to detail, that not only make contestants successful entertainers but carry over to and enhance their lives out-of-drag.’
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