You never know what you don’t know. There are many things I have been called, but a “pageant queen” is typically not one of them. I guess I have never wished to conform to some of the standards — or conformity — of pageantry. Or, at least, that is the way I used to think of pageants.

Over the last few months, I have learned a lot about myself and the world of pageants. As a result of competing in the statewide and national Entertainer of the Year system and then being a promoter for the Miss Gay North Carolina America pageant, I have found a new respect and understanding for pageants. I even won the 2015 Miss Charlotte Pride this past month. Perspectives can change and so have mine. Here are six lessons learned from a newfound pageant queen.

#1. Pageants are not all about beauty.

Shocking. Yeah, there is world peace and all, but even then pageants do want something a bit deeper. Smart and pretty queens can win — and not everything is about beauty. Each pageant system has their own set of standards and expectations for their pageant winner. Interviews and onstage questions do matter.

#2. Pageants support all different kinds of queens.

Pageantry is just as diverse as the drag queens who compete in them. Each pageant system is different and so are the queens. Find a system that challenges you and supports you for who you are — but also find a pageant system that makes you aspire to something greater. Different can be good for pageants and drag queens.

#3. Pageants stretch and redefine you.

I was never been so tired than competing for 72 hours nonstop in a national pageant. I literally did not sleep or rest for that entire time. It was 24/7 drag. My husband called it the “Amazing Drag Race.” Little did I know that in the midst of the chaos, I was stretched way outside my box. I grew 10 times and left that pageant a new drag queen and an improved entertainer. Pageants do make you a better queen if you let them.

#4. Pageants are about the judge’s critique and scores.

Remember, you are paying for the opinions of judges who measure you against a set of standards for the particular pageant system. Their opinion matters if you want to win. So listen, learn and come back if you want to win.

#5: Pageants teach respect.

As RuPaul would say: “If you can’t love yourself, how the hell you gonna love somebody else?” Always respect yourself and love yourself first. Pageants give you this confidence in who you are and how you can improve as an entertainer and illusionist. There is no reason to feel threatened by other viewpoints or other drag queens. Only then can you respect the art form of drag. Have faith and respect in what you are doing.

#6. Pageants build authentic sisterhood.

Sisters I have met at pageants truly mean the world to me. We share a common bond and love for drag. Plus, I have never felt so much love from others who wanted me to succeed and, yet, we were all in it together. Sisterhood is one of those things you never expect in a pageant, but it is real.

All and all, these lessons are simple — and, yet, I would have never learned them unless I tried something new. Pageants are not for everyone. But the art of drag does have a place in our LGBT community and our queer history. There is so much still to be learned about drag and its impact on how we express our gender as a society. Gender expression and the drag we wear has no boundaries. It sets us free. : :

DRAG TIP:  Glitter is your friend. Try something new and stretch yourself beyond your walls.

SHOUT OUTS: Go swimming with Buff Faye. Take a splash at the Campus Pride pool party on Sunday, Aug. 30. Buy your tickets online at

— Buff Faye calls the Queen City her home and performs to raise money so she can glitter bomb Donald Trump (and raise money for charities). Find her at your favorite bars and hot spots. Plus don’t forget her weekly Saturday night show with Patti O’Furniture and regular Friday night party bus. Learn more at Follow on Twitter @BuffFaye.


Buff Faye

Buff Faye calls the Queen City her home and performs to help save the world from Republicans (and raise money for charities). Find her at your favorite bars and hot spots. Plus don’t forget her monthly...