Final Thoughts On My National Run

If I had to sum up my national run competing for Mr. Gay USofA, it would be “Heavy is the bag of drag unseen.” I returned last month from competing for USofA where unfortunately I missed the cut by a hair. That, and of course my choice clubwear, as it often does. I’ll get to the point, if I may. I arrived Tuesday afternoon to check-in at my hotel and catch the finals of Mr. Gay USofA at Large. Congrats winner Ade Toujore and his court of kings. It was a late night when I departed Rich’s Nightclub back to the fabulous Four Points Sheraton where I bunked for the night. I unfortunately got a parking ticket for siting too close to the stop sign.

The next day I purchased a money order and sent her on her way before I could say “Damn!” Later I moved over to the host hotel Hampton Inn to stay with my dancers. Registration was at noon. 22 guys arrived to compete for the national title. Everything looked good. I drew #16 meaning I had talent that night, tech rehearsal at the club later on in the day. My dancers were running late due to traffic and delayed flights so they got a dose of a panicked pageant papi on the phone while I waited. And again, I apologize girls! We got back to the hotel and to our rooms for the night ahead. My concept for preliminary night was to do something musically current because I planned on doing something very conceptual for finals. I had the girls pay ode to a Japan anime school girls with hard hitting choreography, edgy video footage at beginning, all that gig. I haven’t seen a video but the pictures I’ve seen gave me complete life. It looked exactly the way I wanted visually. The judges commented there were spacing issues and wanted a bit more of me, I assume solo during the routine. When it’s national quality level every little thing matters and counts. And with all due respect, it’s a subjective opinion. I’m a tough judge of myself and it could have gone better personally but I felt it was very strong. The stage at Rich’s is actually everything a choreographer dreams of. Elevation, size and great entrances.

Thursday I nailed interview. I was more than ready to talk to them and with a round of thank you later, my seven minutes were up. Actually the judges panel was perfection. I placed 2nd overall in Interview. I am damn proud of that! You can produce a talent around someone but when it’s just you and a panel of judges, intelligence and being well-spoken can’t be cultivated on the spot under pressure. I just need to figure out how to be smart enough to figure out the rest of it! In all honesty, I finished thanking the judges and Craig, walked out of the room, down the hallway past the other contestants waiting, around the corner with my promoter and cried hard tears. Happy tears. That pressure needed release and I was thrilled to have made it around the corner. I’m man enough to admit that about my journey. There’s no shame. The one thing I’ve truly embraced this journey to Texas was I’m not delusional about how ageism needs my continued fight. At 49 years, this old broom still sweeps and dances his jig gig, living.

Later that evening I had Clubwear and was so excited about wearing a pair of rhinestone jeans I created. However, I knew already that the shirt was big on my torso when I put it on. I had remembered it fitting tighter. My mistake. And the judges agreed. Again, I am not mad about the outcome. Just very disappointed in so much money invested and determination to fall short of a viable reach to the prize. I’m sad not to have had that chance to show my finals package. The words to my Talent production were everything I ever wanted to say about competing. There’s so many more details but I want to save something for the book. After the top twelve were announced, I walked up to receive my “Best Non Finalist” plaque which I tied for with someone else. He didn’t want it so I smiled 100 white teeth and we all walked off the stage. I scooped up my stuff, quickly changed and headed to the car as the contest continued. It took me a few minutes alone to gather my thoughts because I was very in my feelings.

Somehow, after a few texts and phone calls to my #DreamTeam, I held my head up and strutted back into the club to support my fellow brothers and visit with friends. My best friend Tyler had came into to surprise me in support so I had a good amount of time to reconnect while we nursed wounds with cocktails. I’m not sure what the future holds regarding my competitive career but I also know some dreams will never die. I congratulate Dione Kelly, our new Mr. Gay USofA and each of us who competed. As long as we live our lives and try our best, we are all winners!

And to the THANK U scroll…. Craig Henderson, thank you for this big platform to showcase our entertainment and passion. Love U much! To my judges: Simba, Kimbol, Jeffrey Kelly, Mike Fornelli, Michael LaMasters, you Sirs were an an amazing panel to share the journey with! Daddy’s Dancing Divas: Lindsay Benay, Melinda Cantu, Kristine May, Karina Salgado, WORSHIP U ALL! Edward Michael, Thank U for your love of entertainment and attention to your contestants. Proud to call you promoter, and good friend! My sassy Westcoast brother Dvyne Reddboijr Valentino, hennie… U showed up and out! Congrats on that spot! David Bridgman, again you ran the show to the Tea and your hardwork continually pays off. George Timothy Reed & Tyler David White, our time together upstairs meant more to me than these words say. You know that. Desi M Andrews, please take my #ClassAct because you Sir are one! LOVE U! Dakota Whitney, bitch I love your face so damn much. Cielo Whitney, Odyssey KC Whitney and Lana Blake, maybe next time we can hang a bit more (wink!wink!) Thank you for your support. To Dione Kelly, please use your voice as much as your talents this year. We need leaders! To my husband who has understood and stood by his show husband now selflessly for years, I’m home! And finally to Mitch & Rob, you know how I feel about you both. You are the dreamiest team this dreamer ever needed or wanted. I love you both beyond words! X

Steven Michael
Mr. Gay Westcoast USofA ‘17

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