December has been an incredible, and incredibly busy, month! I honestly can’t believe that I fit all of this into December.
We started with a trip to Monroe, Louisiana for Mister Louisiana USofA MI and Miss Louisiana USofA Diva! Jax Hannigan and Rayvn Noir Downe invited us all to “be their guest” as they crowned the next. Their Beauty and the Beast themed opening was even complete with a broom that moved on it’s own! We had two young men show up to compete for Jax’s title – Oliver Hart and Roman Syder! Oliver won the title, and both he and Roman will be headed to Ohio in March. Two boys making their very first trip to nationals! It’s so exciting to see how many new kings are jumping in this year and joining the family. We are still growing!
The following weekend brought a trip to Springfield, Missouri, for a triple crowning (Mister USofA MI, Mister USofA MI Classic, and Miss USofA Diva), and FIVE in- credible contestants vying for the title of Mister Missouri USofA MI. The talent competition that night was just wonderful and full of variety, including stand-up comedy, mime, roller skates, and Damian Matrix doing jazz hands! At the end of the night, the hometown boy, Phoenixx LaFaye, took the crown. Shire Paige (1st Alternate) and Bastian Cox (2nd Alternate) also won their spots to compete in March.
Four days after Missouri, my partner and I loaded up the car again and headed to Nashville for Mister Tennessee USofA MI.
This trip also included Miss USofA Diva, and Miss Gay USofA divisions!
It was great to see Aurora Sexton, and be able to be involved with one of our other USofA branches. Five contestants showed up for Mister Tennessee USofA MI, coming from all over the country! Eddie Broadway from Arizona took the title, and his 1st Alternate Viktor Grimm (from North Carolina) earned his spot at nationals as well. We spent an extra day in Nashville, sleeping, eating, and not worrying about the fact that I had laundry that needed to be done.
A few short days of work later, my partner and I headed to Oklahoma City to spend Christmas with my family. I was lucky this year that my retail job allowed me to have the 24th, 25th, and 26th off to be able to spend it with my parents and brothers. Holidays can be rough for many, and my family is certainly far from perfect, but I’m very blessed to have them. My parents have always made a big deal out of family and holidays, especially Christmas. My dad actually makes up his own game every year, and we have to play to be able to open presents. We spend the whole day together playing his silly game, eating, and spending time together.
January is bringing my final prelims with it Iowa, California, and Ohio Valley. I know January will move quickly, as the last several months have, and February will be spent trying to ensure I’m prepared for my step down in March. It seems like there is still so much to do, and so little time left to do it. As it is, I’m already running late on this article, because I ran out of time (sorry David!!).
As I’m writing this, I’m a little out of sorts. Today, Carrie Fisher died. Star Wars has been a huge part of my life, and this loss has really hurt. 2016 has brought loss, fear, and sometimes what looks to be a bleak future. It has had it’s good moments, for sure, but I think we can all say, in some way or another, we’ve gone reeling from one loss to the next. As we move into 2017, I’d like to remember Carrie’s beloved character, Leia Organa. She spent her whole life fighting for what she believed in, for what was right, and for the people she cared about. I’m sure she didn’t know everyone she fought with. She couldn’t possibly have known all the people she was fighting for throughout the galaxy. Yet, even when she had lost everything of her own, she continued to fight, because someone needed to. There are many unknowns moving into a new year, yet there is so much we have all overcome already. Do not lose hope. Do not give up on what you believe in. Do not give up on what is right. Continue to stand together, and let’s move into 2017 with our heads held high, the memories of all of our losses this year driving us to make a difference. Some days we will be beaten down, but we have not been, and will not be, defeated. I don’t know all of you. But I can promise you, I’m not giving up.
I love you all. Stay strong, and let’s make 2017 count.
Mister USofA MI