Updated: Jun 12, 2021
So this past three months, I’ve been MIA because of so many things on my plate. This past weekend, I took time to recover and focus only on me since this journey was fun but exhausting.
Let me start off by saying that you should always verify sources, find other pageant winners, and learn as much as you can about the pageants process before entering. I learned a lot on this journey, and I want to find a way to touch on several challenges (and blessings) that I met along the way.
First off, I wanna start by saying that I did this because I wanted to raise money for Brave Green Wave Trybe and for the scholarships..
I’m going to say this straight up, it’s said that every part of this process was capitalism milking us with this promise of lottery ticket success. The fact that votes had to be paid for and that they did sales was gross. I wish it was more genuine so people could actually feel good about their community voting for them to be the People’s Choice. I also felt like paying for t-shirts and masks was too much for me. I barely budgeted for my outfits, transportation, transportation getting my items, the 900$ registration fee, and taking care of myself outside of this space. I fundraised and worked for about 2,000$ altogether. My room was 600$ itself for those two nights and three days. Money comes and goes my people. This is why I am unlearning my relationship to the green machine.
This all started when I saw an ad on Facebook for the Miss Wisconsin USA 2021 pageant about three months ago. I was nervous as hell but I made a commitment to myself. If my application was accepted and I raised enough money for the registration fee, then I would submit my registration fee and pursue this pageant with everything I got. I am really proud of myself overall. I didn’t win, and I didn’t make semifinals, but I represented Milwaukee to the best of my ability. I started fundraising for this pageant through t-shirt campaigns, earring campaigns, selling my artwork, and offering my dominatrix services at a discounted price. Literally two months before it happened, so I am really proud of myself for raising the funds I did in the time span I did. I am also proud of the way my community showed up for me and really gave me hope and inspiration for next year.
So, let me run through the weekend with you. Friday, May 21st came, and I still didn’t have shoes for my evening gown, and I needed makeup, and there were some other accessories for my outfits that I hadn’t yet shopped for. My brother, Damonte showed up and bought me shoes while I was at work. He also helped me pack up once it was time to leave. I stopped at the thrift store for some jewelry, and I stopped at Walgreens for makeup.
Lidia Sharapova – Photographer
Connie Sille- Make Up Artist
Trevi Sims & Jordan Terry- Friends & Fellow Organizing Partners
Friday, we left at 3p to get to the Staybridge hotel before 5pm. I left with Lidia & Connie, while Trevi & Jordan trailed behind us. Staybridge hotel was the only hotel with a vacancy big enough for 5 grown femmes. We had a half kitchen, which was nice for saving money on food. After dropping off our stuff at the hotel, Connie added makeup to my face then we headed to the pageant registration. Once there, I stood in line for a meet ‘n’ greet with Miss Wisconsin USA 2020 & Miss Teen Wisconsin USA 2020. They were nice and friendly, but I could tell they were judging my chosen outfit. Everyone was wearing business causal outfits with heels, while I was wearing daisy dukes and tennis shoes. For registration, they obviously checked me in, but then the next couple tables were items for sell. Connie knew Contestant Number One, from Greenfield. Connie introduced us and Tania was sweet. She told me about her experiences and gave me advice to take everything with a smile. Once we got to the merchant table, she bought butt glue. Now, it’s exactly what it sounds like: a tiny bottle of glue to hold your swimsuit to your butt. I actually appreciated buying it because I thought my swimsuit would be a little cheeky if it got snug. It was still 15$ for 4oz. Anyways, after declining several of the picture & video packages, I confirmed my bio with the spokes lady and then headed to the grocery store. While there, Lidia, Connie & I organized dinner with Jordan and Trevi. We Sage’d the entire room before we did anything else. We had chicken alfredo from scratch, made by Jordan and it was bomb. That night we chilled and talked. I did a run through of my outfits for the pageant and which accessories I planned to wear. I decided to braid my hair into a crown for my interview outfit. It was late by the time we got to bed.
Saturday started around 8am for me. I woke up feeling anxious but ready. My hair was laid, and once Connie got up, my makeup was done. We tried the hotel breakfast, but the coffee was the only good option. Lidia and I went to the Chula Vista hotel for orientation and morning interviews with the judges. I was sweating so hard in anticipation of the interviews, so I forgot a lot of stuff at the hotel and my crew was sooooo helpful. The rehearsal of the show went by slowly. I pretty much wore heels the entire weekend, but I kept my slip-ons on deck whenever I could wear them. We were expected to wear heels and keep standing even though it was hours before we sat down for longer than a few minutes. By the time that my interview came around, I was sweating and drying my armpits with my hairdryer. I felt like I was waiting forever to interview with the judges, and we only got two to three minutes to answer questions. I felt like I made a good impression, but not a lasting one. When the interviews were over, the interviewees were directed towards a corner where Miss Wisconsin USA 2020 was waiting with a photographer. We chopped it up a bit before taking a picture. At first, Miss Wisconsin didn’t even recognize me. I know makeup is a substantial difference, but it was not surprising to me that she didn’t even notice I was the same person in the tennis shoes from the day before. After another rehearsal of the individual categories (swim /evening gown /introduction outfit), we broke for lunch.
Long story short, the hotel took forever to serve us our to go order, but of course made sure to serve the white folx as soon as their food was out. That was frustrating because it made me late to practice, since I still needed to eat, get my makeup freshened up, and get prepared to stand for another couple of hours. Rehearsals were followed by introductions to the staff and the crew of volunteers. Then we got another break before the 1st night of the pageant. For dinner, I had to eat a quick salad and some snacks. Connie did my stage make up and then I got changed for the pageant introduction segment.
The pageant was nerve wrecking. I have never felt so much anxiety and nervousness about an event on stage. To be honest, I think it was the lights and not seeing the audience that made me anxious. Doing the introduction part (name, age, and local title) wasn’t that bad, I just had to remember that I wasn’t Milwaukee, unfortunately. Changing in between the segments wasn’t that hard. I am not body shy but changing in front of all those women was uncomfortable. I could tell they were watching me and what I was wearing. Every time, I practiced my walk after getting dressed, I would hear them whispering about my outfit or accessories. When I chose to wear my tennis shoes instead of heels for my swimsuit, they were really confused. During the rushing back and forth, I somehow misplaced my Kofi hat that I planned to wear with my swimsuit. I found it later stuffed in my duffel bag. I was sad I didn’t wear it on tv, but I am proud of each of my outfits. Especially my headwrap with my evening gown. I didn’t know if it would look good, but it did. I also have a bad habit of wrapping my hair up and then it explodes during a random activity, so I’m glad that didn’t happen. First night on TV was a success overall though. I was proud that I got through it without falling, sweating grossly, or embarrassing myself in any other way. It was such a white space, so I wanted to be in my highest vibrational energy.
Getting back to the hotel after the show was a fiasco. We hit traffic and it literally took 45 minutes. We ate together and then bonded over community situations. We all recognized that it was our first-time chilling together outside of Milwaukee and it was pretty lit. We got a little tipsy from the red wine and smoked herbs together. I got to know Connie better and I grew to appreciate them as an individual even more. Also, hearing their story reminded me as to why I was here. I wanted to put that 50,000$ prize money towards Brave Green Wave Trybe cooperative and housing black queer folx in Milwaukee. The scholarships that came along with it were going to help me give back to myself and my community too.
Sunday morning, I woke up and had a certain level of calmness about me. I spiritually knew that I hadn’t won and I was starting to feel a little sad about it. I brought my tarot cards with me, so I pulled cards for the day of. I just wanted messages that would ground me and reassure me. The ancestors basically told me that my instincts were correct and that I benefited from this process regardless of who was wearing a crown. My breakfast was lit because Saturday, I found out how gross the hotel breakfast was besides the waffle. So I had bought a breakfast sandwich and had a bomb ass coffee. After everyone woke up, we packed up the room a bit and I left for the second day of pageant activities with Lidia. Rehearsals went by pretty smoothly. Lunch was ok, but I dreaded walking around knowing that I hadn’t won. Being on that stage waiting for them to not announce me was probably one of the most bravest, simplest things I could do for myself. Keeping my smile.
Standing up there for 40 minutes felt like hours to me, but once we were officially done, I ran out there to get ahead of the crowd. It was super packed in the hallway, and I couldn’t get pictures with my crew at all. So, after saying bye to Connie, Trevi & Jordan, I headed to Milwaukee with Lidia. On the way back, we saw a rainbow and that made my day feel better. The ancestors love sending me signs of reassurance along my path and I stay forever grateful. While I got my makeup done by Connie, I saw a woodpecker with a red head/chest; a sign of wisdom.
Lessons and spaces where I will challenge myself to go one step further were around my identity. I was frustrated that the during the entire pageant, the host and staff never used they/them as my pronouns. I was upset that they tried to sweeten my defeat by including me in all the mock finalist practices, that just felt like I was being tokenized. Next year, I AM winning that crown. Not for the publicity but for the representation and the opportunity to fund an important project in Milwaukee. I will also make sure to fundraise and do outreach long before those two months. There were so many things that I had as expenses, (and things I didn’t have listed), that I needed to properly budget for with time inconsideration as well. I also want to be able to pay my photographer and makeup artist for their time. They were phenomenal and I love them more for how they took care things without stressing me out. Next year will be a new attitude but the same crew. Shout out to Ebony from TSX Design House for my beautiful swimsuit & Basia from Basia Rose Designs for my classy evening gown.
Peace & Blessings Fam,