We have the first Miss Gay America preliminary under our belt. David and Cory did an amazing job reviving Miss Gay Heart Of America this past month in St. Louis. It was a wonderful evening of pageantry with Sally Sparkles, Dominique Sanchez, Lauren Colby, Blair Williams, Jade Sinclair, and a host of other incredible entertainers. It was great to see our first 5 contestants battle it out, but at the end of the night it was Kelly Ray of North Carolina and Christa Collins of Missouri that captured the first 2 spots to Miss Gay America 2017!
Id like to bring attention to the men and women across the country who invest their time in judging all of our city, state, and regional preliminaries. This is by no means, an easy job. We as an organization are thankful of your commitment to integrity and excellence. And on the matter of judging, I would like to remind that we must leave that job to the selected judges and be mindful of our words when offering our opinions about others. I'm sure we all know what it's like to feel judged by someone else. Maybe it's because of the way you look, or the way you act, or something you've said. No matter what the reason, it probably didn't feel very good. Let’s face it. We all do it. We judge. We like to label others. Put them in boxes. We don’t like “undefined” people. We extrapolate based on our interactions and observations. Judging makes us feel safe, comfortable because we’ve “defined” a person and because we have that definition, we know how to act accordingly. We move on to the next person and do the same until our entire social circle is defined. It helps give us a sense of control, of safety and you could probably trace it back to primal days when we needed to make quick snap judgments of another person in terms of whether or not they posed a threat. It’s foolish to assume we know everything there is to know about a person without knowing the back story. One observation, one interaction, one action, or even several of those shouldn’t become the basis for our judgments of others but we often peg our judgments on just that. Those are some of the more obvious reasons we shouldn’t judge. Yet we still do, and the subtle reason in terms of why we judge is that what we’re “confirming” ourselves in a sense when we do it. It’s a built in mental defense mechanism. If others are living the lives we are, they’re good people. The people that aren’t – they’re ignorant, bad, not doing the right thing, etc. We tend to project our own values and beliefs on others and if others fall in line with what we value and believe, we judge them as “good” and the rest “bad”. Then we treat the two groups accordingly. It’s a fail safe mechanism to convince ourselves that the way we are living is “right” and that others who don’t match are “wrong”. Acceptance is the key. We are not judge and jury. It’s arrogant for one individual to judge everybody. Just accept the fact that everyone has a story and everyone has free will to decide what they want to do, how they want to live their life, and that it’s all relative to their story, values and beliefs. Accept that. And if you want to go a step further to deepen the relationship, seek to understand by learning about their story. It will give you great perspective on what that person is all about. When you accept and understand others, it’s so much easier to accept and understand yourself. When we stop judging others, we become less critical of others and in doing so, less critical of ourselves. We become less influenced by the judgment of others because we realize that nobody has the right to judge another and even though people still judge us – they don’t know the whole story so their judgments lie on faulty foundations. When you accept others, SO MANY doors begin to open, whereas before, you would’ve closed them BECAUSE OF YOUR JUDGMENTS. People are one of the greatest gateways to opportunities and when you ACCEPT another, which is something rare these days, you open a door instead of closing it by judging, and in the process, bank a lot of goodwill indirectly, which can translate into opportunity. Another great thing that happens when you stop judging is the “social weight” of fearing how others will judge you should you decide to take a different direction in life than the masses, gets lifted right off your shoulder. It evaporates. You feel FREE. FREE from the social judgment of others, even though you know they still do it. Before, when you judged, you could “extrapolate” what the mental chatter would be of those who judged you because you yourself were judging. But when you stop judging, that mental chatter that fuels the fear of how others will judge you and act toward you accordingly – it changes. You realize you don’t know the whole story of the people you think are judging you. Why waste your time trying to figure out what’s going on in someone else’s head? For all you know, it could be the complete opposite of what you think. Or they may not even be thinking of you at all! And because you don’t know their entire stories for sure which means you don’t know how they will judge, you feel FREE. So you let it go. It doesn’t bother you at all. And you keep on living your life and seeking your excellence, free from the heavy weight of the social judgment ball.
Asia T. O'Hara
Miss Gay America 2016