And the winner is... Taz Bailey, Mr. Gay All-American 2007! Mr. Bailey from Midwest City, Oklahoma was selected from a field of three at the Copa, 5.19.07 in OKC in a competition based on interview, fashion modeling and talent. Rounding out the contest was Sebastian Armonte of Pittsburgh, PA, (1st Alternate,) and (2nd Alternate,) Dean Taylor of St Louis, MO. Awarded a $2,500 prize package, Bailey will represent the pageant throughout the country promoting a positive gay role model and participation in the MGAA system. The event was hosted by former MGA 2004, Rachel Eriks and MGAA 2006, Lucas Lander, which also featured guest performers and former contest winners as pictured below.
(Left to right) Antonio Edwards (MGAA98), Enrique Perez (MGAA03), David Pace (MGAA94),John Lucas, ( MGAA 06), John Bebee ( MGAA 96), contestants: Dean Taylor, Taz Bailey and Sebastian Armonte. How time has passed since the inception of this contest which has roots here in Arkansas, even though the state has failed to produce a representative in years. It was the brainchild of NK, Inc. decades ago and I had a chance to witness it's timely uniqueness as it began the journey to highlight and celebrate "overt maleness," of our diverse community. My then favorite, Keith Mitchell, went on to win the 1985 national title as well as represent the contest. Unfortunately and all to soon, Mr. Mitchell since then has passed on. Futhermore, to my knowledge this is the first time that all participants were African Americans. How times..they are a changing or are they? Congrats to all involved and bravo to Mr. Bailey on capturing the title. Perhaps we will be able to get an exclusive interview with him in the near future. Unlike most competitions, the contest is open to all and at this date does not demand an entry fee. The 2008 title will be up for grabs in November 2007, so get prepped early.
Pride or Bust: Across the country the sounds of Pride flags are unfurling as local organizers plan their yearly festivals and parades. However, many of those planners are finding that producing Pride activites, althought put together with love, often come at price that some groups can't continue to pay. Enter the Seattle gay pride celebration that "blinked" when organizers announced that they would cease operations and disband amidst a 2006, $102,000.00 budget deficit. But community citizens were not having it, meanwhile proposing to dial back plans and producing the event with more modest financing raised from dieheart supporters. North of the border in Ottawa and Montreal, organizers are reeling from financial difficulties and will attempt find more revenue producing aspects to offset Prides that have become behemoths of debt. The national budget figures vary wildly from $50,000 to $250,000.00 for an average event. Locally, Little Rock's impending capitol pride has been scavenging for funds for the past year, in the face of several cancelled fundraisers, non-responding corporate sponsors and a "fire sale" on booths to vendors and non profits. The last time I checked it's website's running total, the posted amount was less than $6,000 but the scuttlebutt around town is that a unamed benefactor has donated $10,000 to the cause. Allowing the organization to produce needed advertising materials including a slick "Pride Guide," stuffed with advertisements. But in my opinion ( and I wasnt asked) the guide lacks an actual schedule of events, FYI tidbits such as parking, security, rules of order or terrorist attack.( O.K. maybe not terrorist.) Further whispers have stated that headliner Eric Himan may not be totally engaged with the event, has Pride 07 morphed into "Joe Lafontaine Presents..." ( the solo inside cover picture of the prez doesn't help dispel this notion,) and others have cited too many concerns to mention here. I wish the skelton crew of LRCP well for undertaking the daunting task they've accepted. The planing meetings were open to all, participants sought and imput requested, therefore, the opportunities were presented to make this a success. If it's not, then there's always next year. It's going down at the Rivermarket Pavillions, June 3, 2p.m. - 9p.m. Pick up a guide at your favorite spot and tell me what you think.Links:
www.myspace.com/mgaacontest (contact info for MGAA contest)
www.KKF.org (Health and AIDS information)
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