The all-inclusive pageant offers contestants the opportunity to strut their stuff while advocating for a cause.
Ash Griffith | May 3, 2018
When I think of pageants, a whole myriad of different things springs to my mind. A whole lot of glitter, uncomfortable swimsuit contests, and that one scene from Miss Congeniality where she’s talking about April 25th being the perfect day. VA Pride’s Mr. & Miss Virginia Pride Pageant, happening this Sunday at Diversity Richmond, is absolutely nothing like any of that.
Conceived as the brainchild of Virginia Pride Board member Brandon Horton, The Mr. & Miss Virginia Pride Pageant strives to be as inclusive as possible. Cisgender men, drag kings, and transgender men are allowed to compete for the Mr. portion, while cisgender women, drag queens, and transgender women are allowed to compete for the Miss portion. Contestants will compete in four categories; presentation, formal wear/gown, talent, and creative runway, and the winners will win $700 cash. And, of course, a pretty neat crown and a sash.
That isn’t even the best part. The best part is that VA Pride is putting their next social or charitable partnership in the hands of the winners. All contestants will compete on behalf of an organization, and the winners will be partnered with VA Pride for the year of their reign. That beats a bouquet of roses any day.
Having the community choose the charity VA Pride partnered with was important to Horton. “When I joined on the VA Pride board last year, my main goal was I wanted to make Pride more interactive. I wanted more activities, per se, to do,” he explained. “This is a great way to get my community to get their own hands dirty. They can come run the pageant, win the pageant, and then they have the option to choose. It’s their vision, instead of VA Pride coming up with another thing. We get to do what the community wants to do. ”
While the response so far has been very positive, Horton admits that he won’t know how many people will be competing until the day of the event. Much like a regular drag pageant, some people like to keep it secretive, and even go as far to have other people pick up the registration for them. “Some don’t even announce on social media, and then suddenly they show up at registration,” he said.
Judging for this event will be done by four drag luminaries: Adriana P.T. Fuentes is the 2018 All American Goddess At Large, Mykul Jay Valentine is the 2018 Mr. Renaissance, Jennifer Warner is 2012′s Miss Gay United States Icon, and Matt Jay Kelly is 2014′s Mr. EOY (Entertainer of the Year).
When organizing the event, Horton used his own drag experience to put himself in their shoes and figure out what the contestants would want to experience. Ultimately the common element remained putting the power in the hands of the community.
“What I think they get out of it is to be more interactive,” Horton said. “They get to choose what cause we get to work with by representing it in the pageant. And then once they win, we sit down and have a meeting, and we get to look at them and ask, ‘What would you like to do? What are your ideas?’”
By being held several months before 2018′s PrideFest, VA Pride hopes to choose the winners early so that they already have representatives ready in time to celebrate the festivities in September. Regardless of who wins, this is truly an example of a win-win scenario for everyone to feel, well, pretty proud about.
The Mr. & Miss Virginia Pride Pageant will be held on Sunday, May 6th 2018 at Diversity Richmond, located at 1407 Sherwood Ave. Doors open at 5 PM, festivities start at 6. Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door, and can be purchased here. To enter the pageant is $150. Further information, including the registration form, can be found here.