Giselle Nicole competes for Miss Tennessee Gay America 2013
Drag queen, female illusionist, dancer, performance artist and activist. All are accurate descriptions of Miss Gay Middle TN, Giselle Nicole, but she’d rather you just call her an entertainer.
The Nashville resident has distinguished herself in the past two years by winning local pageants, astounding drag show audiences around the city with her killer dance moves, and snagging a role in the upcoming Robin Williams movie filmed in Nashville over the summer. Giselle credits her work as a performer with giving her courage to be herself and fight for the rights of others to do the same.
“Being an artist has given me the power to defy any barriers placed on me by society, community, stereotypes, or even circumstances,” she explained. “It has allowed me to explore who I am as a person and creatively challenged me to stand for myself and refuse to be labeled or put into a box. As a performer I am able to show up and say, ‘This is who I am, and this is what I do.’ It is incredibly liberating.”
A native of Knoxville, Giselle relocated to Nashville in 2012 after winning a newcomer pageant at her hometown club, Hot Rods. Although her primary reason for relocating was love, her husband Bradford is a Nashvillian, she was also ready to expand her career. Becoming a part of the Nashville performance scene seemed like a logical step.
Another logical choice for the upbeat and witty young artist was the Miss Gay America (MGA) pageant system, founded in Nashville in 1973 by Jerry Peek. The MGA pageant and its preliminary competitions set themselves apart from other drag pageants by limiting contestants to biological males with no cosmetic surgery below the neck or female hormone therapy. Like many artists who gravitate to the MGA system, this distinction was appealing to Giselle. “I like that I am judged by my skills to pull off the art of female impersonation. The fact it was an all-male competition without the help of cosmetic procedures really caught my eye. No offense to my friends who are ‘nip and tuckers’ out there, but it evens up the playing field.”
Current MGTNA, Suzy Wong agrees. “I thought the system was perfect for me. I loved its rich history, but also because of what I do and who I am physically. I am a boy from head to toe with no modifications.
Another unique aspect of MGA is its judging category “male interview,” in which contestants present themselves in male form and answer questions about the lives and careers they lead outside of their drag persona.
As Wong prepares to crown her successor, she has her sights set on another title. “I’m excited to have won Miss Gay Mid-America and already be headed to nationals so I can focus on completing my duties as Miss Gay Tennessee and mentoring the girls in that pageant this year,” Suzy told O&AN, “plus of course practicing and perfecting my package for Miss Gay America in St. Louis in October.”
Giselle has been preparing for the state pageant with a similar focus. “Preparing for Miss Tennessee America is different from Miss Middle Tennessee America in that it takes the need for more discipline, hard work, and most importantly faith that what I bring to the competition will be nothing short of my best,” Giselle said. “The idea of representing my home state on a national level would be such a huge honor for me.”
Giselle appreciates the opportunities Miss Gay America has provided her to give back to the GLBT community and support interests close to her heart like bullying awareness and prevention.
“The MGA System has provided me with a huge platform to advocate for anti-bullying, which means I am able to reach more people, hearts, and minds in hopes of promoting social change. I have so many young people interacting with me on social media, and I have learned they are really listening,” Giselle explained. “I can’t bear to see one more suicide of another youth on my timeline because they where bullied. When I hear directly from a young person that something I have said or done has helped them find hope, it is the best feeling imaginable. It’s horrible to hear stories about how kids have been treated cruelly just for being themselves, but it encourages me to continue trying to lift up and encourage all the beautiful kids who are struggling out there. I want to be a light in their hearts and minds.”
The Miss Gay TN America 2013 Pageant will be held at PLAY Dance Bar on September 15 at 7:00 p.m. sharp. Admission is $10 with limited tables for sale at $50. Email JC Productions at firstname.lastname@example.org for info.
photo credit: Margaret Ellis