Tajma's Haul - February 2023
Hello and happy 2023!
Let me start by congratulating the MGMA board, Trixie LaRue, and all the wonderful people behind the MGMA 2022 pageant week because all the hard work resulted in MGA’s PRELIM OF THE YEAR! This is a rare honor and I couldn’t be more proud to have been a part of it.
My MGA 2023 experience--
I hope you'll read this letter and be inspired about drag pageantry because it is an institution where, if you know yourself and desire to personally grow, you can do that freely. In fact, every drag pageant system, not just the America system, is meant for personal growth, onstage and offstage. Personally, I am experiencing a flourish of personal growth as I write this. Here's why: my time as Miss Gay Missouri America has been one of the most rewarding of my life and the privilege I received to compete at Miss Gay America taught me more this year that I ever thought could.
My placement at Miss Gay America is only a number. That's not to say that I'm disregarding it, in fact, I'm holding myself to it because it wholly represents me as a competitor and as a person.
First, even though I placed the lowest I ever have, I'm not upset about it beauase I came away knowing that my placement was valid. I made unwise choices, even though I knew better, because I UNDERestimated the national-level adjudication process. Admittedly, I confidently sold a B+ showing thinking that I would always have another chance (the top ten). This quickly led me to realize that I grossly OVERestimated my capabilities as a national-level competitor. Both my underestimation and my overestimation were my downfalls. Once the MGA Class of 2023 top ten were called forward, I was flooded with this realization and couldn't be upset with anyone but myself—and I was—for about seven seconds. That was enough time to clap and holler loudly, still onstage with the top ten, and descend from the stage hoping to consider the judges comments with grace.
Second, I knew that I would face my friends and family with the result. To my great surprise, they did nothing but look me in the eye to tell me how proud they are. They knew how hard I had worked to plan my package but they also know how much harder I will work to make it better. At this I realized that I could hold my head high even after experiencing something unplanned and perhaps something that would make me look bad. All I could do was accept the pats on the back, the messages of congratulations, and the encouragement to move forward. It was much more of a glowing response than I had expected during my seven seconds of disappointment. I actually surprised myself and am proud to admit it.
There's much more to my story at MGA 2023. It involves focusing on every detail even when I thought I had thought of all of them, it speaks to the wonderful people around me who will support me in everything—no questions asked, and it made me face the people who judge me the hardest because they know what heights I can achieve. But what I want you to know is that I LEARNED from this. I hope you learn from your pageant experience that the time and money invested may just be the things that we use to educate ourselves about ourselves.
The thing I'm most happy about is that I got to arrive and leave my MGA week having represented the Miss Gay Missouri title with laughs, stories, glamour, and a sense of who we are in our state. It is no surprise to anyone that we are people that love pageantry and see to it that it is upheld with respect and love. The 47 MGMA title holders that came before me experienced that and it was my distinct honor to carry that on. And when I return to compete at MGA, I will still hold the Miss Gay Missouri title as a forever and I will reflect the privilege it is to hold the title and represent my people.
A lovely 21st place,
Tajma's Haul - January 2023
Happy new year to you!
I have to admit, this year, I went through holiday stress like I never have before. First, there was the family stress that I endure from not being able to be present in my full self around my extended family. Instead of being fully in the moment, I have a “hold it back, Michael” routine that I put on. I'd love to shout “FABULOUS!” at the sight of a beautifully set table or the perfectly decorated tree but instead I refrain from being too loud in front of the aunts, uncles, and cousins that would be put on-edge at my gregarious extremes. It weighed on me more this year because I have little toleration for holding myself back at this point in my life. I feel proud of who I am and what I have accomplished and my full extremes are a part of that.
Second, I was trapped in the airport-disaster-hell having to wait STANDING UP in a line for 15 hours at an airport only for the airline to tell me and hundreds of other passengers that there was absolutely nothing to be done for us. UGH! So much for patience and so much for the two free bags that Southwest allows. I could just cry!
But through it all, I know that I have more than the average. I know that I have a chosen family at my home in Missouri--my Miss Gay Missouri America family--that regards my extremes as endearing. That family is YOU and I could not be more thankful for your contribution to my life and my happiness. Each time I get to come to another city on my MGMA journey, you wrap me in laughs, stories, hugs, kisses, drinks, shows, pageants, and LOVE. You show me love with or without my crown and that is the "holiday" that I deserve, no matter what day of the year it is. So again, I say THANK YOU!
Kicking off December, however, was one of my "holidays" getting to serve at Miss Gay Gateway America. A real highlight was that I got to travel to St. Louis road-trip-style with the reigning Mr. Gay Missouri America, Felix. We spent the night before the pageant with Trixie, Tabbi, Tumara, Kara, and the ever wonderful, free-pouring staff at BarPM. As for the pageant day, I was back at Jade Sinclair's fabulous show bar, Prism with MGMA 2021's Prelim-of-the-Year and Promoters-of-the-Year award recipients. Their promoters include Luis, Karma, Jessica, and Adria and they put much planning into my time with them as well as honoring the gorgeous Kara Lagerfeld.
Miss Gay Gateway was extra special this season because not only was it a fight to the finish for our two contestants, Venus DM and Kendra Crush who put on quite a beautiful contest, but it was a farewell to a sister who has so much sweetness, light, confidence, and a true sense of style unlike anyone I know. Miss Kara headed "across the pond" to her new home in the UK just days after the pageant and her family, the gathered audience, as well as her MGGA sisters (Jade Sinclair, Roxxy Malone, and Veronica Leigh Taylor from Texas) were there to celebrate her time in St. Louis.
The lesson that I received this month is appreciating family. We might get on each other's nerves like Uncle Arnie, we might miss those that are far away, and we might not ever want to leave Grams's kitchen full of recipes and stories, but we're fortunate to be able to turn to them and say THANK YOU.
Happy and grateful,
This is the official blog of Tajma Stetson, MGMA 2022