The Blair Essentials
It's 10:51 AM on Thursday, March 25, 2015. My mind is racing with so many events...past, present, and future. March is a big month in our family. Both Bob and his two brothers celebrate birthdays in March, and birthdays have always been a very big deal for us. It's not so much about the presents or the cake (OK maybe a little about the cake), but more about taking the time to enjoy the day (or week in our case), relax, and have the opportunity to do exactly what you want, even if exactly what you want is to do is nothing at all. Bob and his middle brother Larry actually have the same birthday. While they are a year apart, both were born on March 11. This year Larry traveled to Savannah to celebrate with us. I suspect he was as excited about escaping the never ending winter in Minneapolis as he was about seeing us LOL. Our son Daniel and our niece Mandy will also have birthdays at the end of this month, so the parties just keep on coming.
On March 24, Bob and I celebrated our 4th "legal" wedding anniversary. As most of you know by now, we will celebrate 24 years in September, but in 2011, we traveled to Waltham, MA to make honest men out of each other. It was a Thursday courthouse wedding minus the shotgun. This is the day that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the federal government officially recognized our relationship as equal under the law. Today, 36 states and the District of Columbia recognize our relationship / marriage. I sincerely hope the Supreme Court will make equality the law of the land this summer!
March is also a big month in Savannah. Our tourist season kicks into high gear with the annual Saint Patrick's Day festivities. Savannah hosts one of the largest St. Patrick's Day parades in the country, and we have nearly 500,000 revelers in our downtown area. That means lots of business and lots of shows in the club where I perform most often. In fact, I was in full Blair regalia for 12 shows over 6 days during the height of the celebration. After that marathon, I was thrilled not to have to shave for a few days! I truly enjoyed the time I spend with my ClubOne family, however, as I won't be back there to perform until the middle of May. There is a great deal of travel in my immediate future.
Moreover, March ushers in Spring, which is one of my favorite seasons. Spring is a time of rebirth and renewal. The weather starts to break, the flowers start to bloom, and my spirit starts to rejuvenate. The month also signals the beginning of the Miss Gay America pageant season and the search for our next symbol of excellence.
Our first preliminary contest will be held in Washington, DC on March 28. So by the time you get to read this article, 2 lucky individuals will have already secured their spots to compete to be Miss Gay America 2016. I am looking forward to seeing Robert York and the Miss Gay DC family. I was fortunate to have held the title of Miss Gay DC America 2013, and I have the upmost respect for this prelim and Robert's ability to help bring out the very best in his contestants. I'd be lying if I said I weren't a little nervous or anxious as I approach the first prelim, but I am confident that I am prepared to perform my job duties to the best of my abilities. Under the guidance of Larry and Terry, and with the assistance of my sisters, the Forever Miss Gay America's, I have been provided with the tools for the job and the best support system I could possibly ask for. Let the games begin!!!!
And once they begin, there will be no rest for the weary. In April alone, I will have the opportunity to visit Wyomissing, PA; Kansas City, MO; Memphis, TN; Starkville, MS; Monroe, LA; and potentially Nashville, TN. The hits just keep coming J.
I am humbled to wear the Miss Gay America crown, and I am happy to see us grow the organization and make changes and improvements along the way. I hope you have all had the chance to check out our revamped www.missgayamerica.com website. The interface is more modern, and the navigation is easy and intuitive. Many thanks go out to Daniel Eckstrom for the hours of work he has put into this effort. Daniel will serve as the webmaster going forward, and we are thrilled to have him (along with a little help from Nick Ray) in this role. We also continue to increase our social media presence with a concentrated effort to generate interest in our Miss Gay America facebook page. Chuck Guthrie works hard to keep the page updated and fresh. We are closing in on 8000 "Likes," and I think we can easily reach 10,000 over the next few months as our season progresses and momentum builds towards MGA 2016.
I have spoken to many people recently about the Miss Gay America organization. I have truly enjoyed my conversations with promoters and potential contestants alike. I look forward to speaking to the promoters I have not yet had the opportunity to reach out to and offer my services in any capacity needed.
I would like to personally welcome David Gish as the new promoter for Miss Gay West Virginia America and congratulate Sean Mauck as his pageant director. MGWVA is a limited regional contest and will be held at The Club in Martinsburg, WV on July 4th.
With almost all of our prelim dates set for this competition season, we are still looking to bring on a few more preliminaries. Please watch for updates concerning additional opportunities and locations as you as contestants pick your preliminary pageant. All of our contests are available for you to review at www.missgayamerica.com/preliminaries. I urge all potential contestants to do your research, pick a contest, and work towards preparing yourself for competition.
On the eve of our preliminaries, I do want to take a moment to speak directly to anyone considering competing in the Miss Gay America system this season. One thing that is a common theme is the reluctance of someone to enter the MGA pageants because, as an entertainer or competitor, they don't feel they fit the "mold." In her March 2011 "My Life on The E List," Coti Collins says:
Each Miss Gay America before me has left the system with their personal touch. When a person tells me "I'm not so America," I often wonder how many formers thought that same thing. I personally see 39 different personalities, talents and success stories. My best advice to anyone is not to follow but to lead.
I completely agree with Coti. If you feel there is a mold and you don't fit it, then change the mold. The categories for MGA and our scoring system are common knowledge. Take the time to review them and find a way to showcase yourself without feeling as though you have to change or compromise in ways that sacrifice who you are. That's where creativity can be rewarded. The judges want to see you! They want to know why you want to be Miss Gay America, and they want to know that you are ready to do the job. Show them that!
And as you prepare to compete, I think Kirby Kolby in the April 2012 edition of the "Kronicles of Kirby" offers some sage advice:
I urge all of you potential contestants to make preparations on your packages and carefully choose what future prelim will be best for you. Don't rely on your success from previous years to help secure your spot to the national competition. As with all the pageants, there can only be one winner and one 1st Alternate position. If you are not lucky enough to secure one of those, PLEASE DO NOT GIVE UP!!! If it is your dream to be Miss Gay America, let nothing stop you!! Take time to listen to the critiques and advice from the judges and take a strong hard look at the package you presented. Most often our friends and supporters are not the best group to get an opinion from on what we present. Seek advice from others outside of your group and from entertainers who have achieved success. The words of wisdom they choose to give you will reward you far greater than those from your best friends.
We are all different and we all bring different skill sets, talents, and abilities to the table. Play to your strengths, and believe in yourself.
Earlier in March, I was excited to announce the theme for Miss Gay America 2016. As I hope you know by now, my theme is "Heroes." I believe a Hero lies inside each one of us, and as you compete this year, my hope is that you are not only able to harness the power of your Heroes, but that you are also able to find the Hero inside of you. I would like to thank a few of my own Heroes this month:
· Jeff Capell / Kerri Nichols: An inspiration in life and drag, Jeff is a friend, a mentor, a sounding board, and a hero to me and many others.
· David Green: David is not only a wonderful promoter, but he is selfless in his passion to see others achieve their goals. I have witnessed the lives he has impacted including my own.
· Doug Venzie: Doug is a long time friend and a founding member of the "Jersey Morning Gym Girls." Through adversity and unimaginable heart break, Doug lives life and makes a difference in the lives of others, some of whom he doesn't even know. He is a hero in every sense of the word.
· Mariana Gutiérrez and Cody Thomas Hanrahan: Mariana and Cody are part of our original StandOut Youth members and two of our many "adopted" children. I group them together because that is often how I think them. Young in years, but wise in compassion and courage and humanity, they embody the ideals of a hero. All my love to you both.
As I think about what lies ahead this year (both the challenges and the rewards), I have given a lot of thought about how I will be perceived in the role of MGA. In a recent interview with "Boom Magazine," I was asked about what I wanted my legacy to be. This is what I said:
While I think I'm a good performer and people enjoy watching me on stage (I hope), I don't believe the performance aspect will be my legacy. During my on-stage question at MGA 2015, I said that I want to be "the people's Miss America." And while I may have been able to express myself more articulately, the meaning behind those words is very true. During my reign this year, I hope to be relatable and approachable and helpful. My job as Miss Gay America has little to do with me, and everything to do with our promoters and contestants. I want to be remembered as genuine, authentic, and as a nice guy!
In order for that to happen, I have to be a man of my word. I have to raise the funds I am committed to for my charities. I have to be available to our contestants and promoters. In short, I have to deliver!
Being a part of the sisterhood of forever Miss Gay America's is daunting. You don't want to be the one not to live up to the legacy. You have to respect and protect the rich history, but also be forward looking and thinking.
I sincerely hope that when people think of Blair Williams, they will think of integrity, and compassion, and the undeniable power of perseverance.
And now, it's show time!
"See the world not as it is, but as it should be." ~ Sue Sylvester (tribute to Finn Hudson "Glee")
Miss Gay America 2015
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