On the evening of October 12, I was honored and humbled to hear my name called as Miss Gay America 2015. I remember Kerri Nichols asking me "Well, how do you feel?" And I recall my brilliant response, "I don't know." Nearly two weeks later, as I sit down to write my first newsletter article, I'm still not sure how I feel or how I should feel. There is a wide range of emotions and a looming sense of obligation. I've dreamt of this year for so long, I don't want to let myself or anyone else down. I have placed a great deal of pressure upon myself to produce and perform and be that Symbol of Excellence that the country expects. The conclusion I have drawn is that I can only strive to be the best me possible this year. And I sincerely hope that will be enough.
I have chosen to title my newsletter article " The Blair Essentials." Thank you Gia Giavanni for the suggestion. I truly hope that you all (contestants, promoters, and supporters and fans of the Miss Gay America organization) will get to know me on a personal level this year, and that I will also get to know all of you as well. So to get the ball rolling, please allow me "essentially" to bare myself by sharing a little bit about me and my history with Miss Gay America.
My name is Todd Mauldin, and I grew up in Albemarle, NC. I have been fortunate to have lived in Charlotte, NC; Chicago, IL; Moorestown, NJ; and most recently Savannah, GA. I am a graduate of Pfeiffer University and have worked in numerous industries including education, retail, accounting/payroll, and project management.
I met my husband Robert in 1991, and we were legally married in March of 2011. We have 3 dogs, 2 cats, 2 adult children, and a slew of "adopted" children through our involvement with StandOut Youth Savannah. I have been involved with The NAMES project, served on the Board of Directors for both First City Network and Savannah Pride, and was the treasurer for our local Parkside Neighborhood Association.
I was completely captivated by the art of female impersonation from the time I saw my first show. And when I discovered that there was an entire pageant circuit associated with this industry, I started to think my childhood dream of being Miss America wasn't so farfetched. It just had a new twist... Miss Gay America. I made my first appearance on the Miss Gay America Stage in 1991. I was a complete novice and was blown away by the caliber of the contestants and their dedication to the art form of female impersonation. I probably was blown away even more to learn that at the end of the contest , I had placed 13th...not bad for a beginner.
The following year, I was fortunate enough to win my state contest in North Carolina which allowed me to return to Miss Gay America. That year, I was thrilled to place 2nd Alternate to Miss Gay America 1992 Tiffany Bonet’.
Believing that I could win and, honestly, not knowing if I wanted to, I took a year off from competing; however, in 1994, I made the decision to return to competition, secured my position by winning the Miss Mid East prelim, and put everything I had into preparing for Miss Gay America. Unfortunately, that year I placed 3rd Alternate at the national contest and was disappointed...heartbroken at the outcome. Not long after that experience, I decided not only to retire from competing but also to retire from performing. You see, I felt like something had been stolen from me that night. And in fact it had been. I let circumstances steal my confidence and my dream. Publicly, I had said that I have no regrets about that decision, as it allowed me to pursue some wonderful professional opportunities in other arenas. And for the most part that is true. But still... what if I hadn't abandoned that dream.... what if I had gone back? That question nagged at me for years... for nearly two decades.
Fast forward 18 plus years...the dream to become MGA is still alive. After moving to Savannah, GA and beginning to perform again, I reconnected with some old friends, one of whom would go on to become Miss Gay America. About that same time, I watched the documentary, "Pageant." I had a powerful reaction to that viewing, and I knew that my goal in this business was still to become MGA. Although I hadn't actively pursued that goal for years, the dream to be called Miss Gay America was still something I carried around with me.
In 2011, I did return to the MGA stage and, when the dust settled on final night, I was elated to have placed 4th alternate to Miss Gay America 2012 Kirby Kolby.
Motivated and determined, I returned to the MGA 2013 pageat. That year, I placed 1st Alternate...so close to realizing my goal.
For the MGA 2014 season, I decided to go back yet again for what I anticipated would be my last appearance in the competition. Win or lose, this was going to be it for me. I put together a talent # that I believed told my story and history and would resonate with the audience and the judges. I was wrong. Alas, my dream did not come true that year, and I placed 2nd at the national level for the 2nd year in a row.
So while I thought my journey to MGA was over, the lyrics from that "unsuccessful" talent continued to speak to me, and I hope some of them will resonate with you as well. Those lyrics include:
· "Everybody has their dues in life to pay"
· "You've got to lose to know how to win."
· "The pages I've turned are the lessons I've learned."
· And my personal favorite: "Dream On, Dream On, Dream On, Dream until your Dreams Come True!"
Thank goodness, I came back one more time, with a different mindset and a different approach. Perseverance along with a willingness to look at yourself objectively and be open to making necessary changes and adjustments brings different results.
This past October , I actually experienced the camaraderie of the week, and I was so moved by all of the acts of kindness and affection I witnessed. I have been thanking my team, The Blair Bunch, for weeks now, so before I conclude, I want to thank a few people from the week who touched my heart (Don't worry if I didn't mention you this time. I plan to recognize many people here over the year).
· Nadine Hughes, thank you for reminding me to take a breath when I needed one.
· Britney Blaire, thank you for holding my hand backstage.
· Kelly Brooks, thank you for the kind words and your commitment to RED.
· Deva Station (and his entire team), thank you for stepping in when you were most needed.
· Truly Fabu, thank you for your competitive spirit, your heart, and your grace.
American philosopher, John Dewey, said: "Arriving at one goal is the starting point to another." This year I have set many new goals for myself as Miss Gay America, and I will work tirelessly to represent you to the best of my abilities. Finally, please stay tuned for details regarding the charities I (along with your help) will be supporting this year.
"Where ever you go, go with all your heart."
Miss Gay America 2015