From July 8-9, 2017, Axis Nightclub in Columbus will be the setting for Miss Gay Ohio America, a state preliminary competition for the 45th annual Miss Gay America Pageant.
Established in Nashville in 1972–37 years before "RuPaul's Drag Race"–The Miss Gay America Pageant is the world’s first, longest running and most prestigious female impersonator competition. The Miss Gay Ohio America pageant began in 1973 and is now in its 45th year.
The evening's theme will be "Ohio is Burning". For the Presentation category, contestants will be asked interpret the theme, in their gown, costume and look.
Nearly a dozen contestants from preliminaries in Akron, Canton, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Columbus, Dayton will compete in five categories: Male Interview (in suit and tie), Presentation (theme based costume), Evening Gown, On Stage Interview and Talent (big production number with costumes, sets and dancers).
The pageant will honor the current Miss Gay Ohio America 2016 Mary Nolan, of Columbus, and feature Miss Gay America 2017 Suzy Wong, of Nashville and Palm Springs.
If you live in the Columbus area, you can catch Mary Nolan every every Friday night at AWOL in "Mary Nolan's Commissary" and every Saturday and Sunday at Boscoe's. Meet your reigning Miss Gay Ohio America 2016, Mary Nolan, as she answers five questions in anticipation of her step-down and the passing on of the crown to Miss Gay Ohio America 2017 on June 25:
1 How did you get started, when did you first do in female impersonation?
I got started doing female impersonation in 2008. It wasn't pretty and it was rough! I had been around several extremely talented entertainers for some time and even danced at national pageants and large-scale production shows, but never taken the leap to be my own “brand.”
In 2008, a friend who worked at the neighborhood gay bar asked me to perform in a fund raising show benefiting Camp Sunrise—a camp for children and teens infected with or impacted by HIV/AIDS. I realized very early that although I didn't have a lot of money at the time, I could be part of something bigger and raise money for worthwhile organizations.
I kept doing benefit and charity shows for a couple of years and it made me feel good, so I kept going. As a former theater kid, I kind of have that deep need to entertain and I love being able to create a character and a brand in Mary Nolan.
2 What has being in the Miss Gay America system mean to you personally?
I started competing because from a place of loss. I lost my brother unexpectedly, then my good friend three months later, then a bar at which I performed, worked, and grew up in closed. It was hard and it hurt. I decided to compete because I needed a change and I needed some light in my life. Miss Gay America gave me that light. I have been able to grow more in a year than I ever thought possible. This growth has positively affected my entertainment career, my personal life, and my professional life. To me, Miss Gay America symbolizes growth, support, and family. I have found a safe space to do better and be better.
Miss Gay America teaches so many profound, useful, and life-touching lessons. Honestly, I learned more about myself and my friends in the week of competing at Miss Gay America than I have at any single event before. I also had the opportunity to meet incredible people from all over, it's not every day where one finds that much caliber of entertainers under one roof. I have received support from those whom I competed with and those who have already won the crown. It has been an incredible growth experience that I wouldn't trade for the world.
4 Is your family supportive? My family is extremely supportive!
My husband bought my first set of makeup as a birthday present. My mom celebrated her birthday with us at Miss Gay Ohio America when I was crowned. Both my husband's and my families support me, and often ask how things are going. I realize how incredible it is to have a support system that provides true, unconditional love.
5 What is your life out of drag?
I've been with my partner, Chad, for 14 years and we recently legally married. We have 3 dogs and work on restoring and taking care of our 100-year old home. We are the doting uncles to 4 nephews and 2 nieces. I work as a school administrator for Paul Mitchell The School Columbus, currently serving as the Operations Leader. I'm not from the cosmetology industry, I landed here because of my degrees in business and HR. Mentoring the students is a really big passion of mine. I currently have an instructor-level certification in CPR, AED operation, and First Aid and instructor-level certification in active-shooter/active-intruder response training. I am a total nerd, so I really enjoy reading. I read everything from HR bulletins, textbooks, to business books, and novels. •
For more from Miss Gay Ohio America 2016 Mary Nolan, check out her blog, “Nolan’s Nuggets” at http://missgayohioamerica.com/nuggets.htm and read Mary Nolan’s guest column in the February issue of “Sincerely Suzy,” the monthly newsletter from Miss Gay America 2017 Suzy Wong at http://www.missgayamerica.com/sincerely-suzy.html
More about the Miss Gay Ohio America 2017 pageant at: www.missgayohioamerica.com
About Miss Gay America: www.missgayamerica.com/about-mga.html