Ravion Starr

Ravion Starr strikes a pose after walking down the runway. Athens PRIDE hosted a pageant at the Foundry along with Mx. Athens on Friday, Sept. 27, 2019, in Athens, Georgia. (Photo/Ryan Cameron rcameron@randb.com)

After a glamorous evening of sequins and sparkling personalities, a member of the Athens’ drag community was crowned the first ever Mx. Athens and became the face of Athens PRIDE.

Queens Alex Suarez, Ravion Starr, Tangerine Summers and Diamond Tiara Dupree-Sanchez competed before a panel of judges Friday night for the title of Mx. Athens in the city’s first ever PRIDE pageant. The event was put on by Athens PRIDE at Graduate Athens.

Ravion Starr was crowned as the winner and will represent Athens PRIDE at all PRIDE events until the next pageant. 

Kai Avery, the community outreach coordinator of Athens PRIDE, said Mx. Athens will serve as a liaison between the organization’s board and the community. Avery sees this as a way to build a stronger connection with Athens’ LGBTQ community. 

In a ballroom adorned with rainbow-colored balloons and tablecloths, attendees had the chance to socialize over drinks and accessorize their outfits with PRIDE-themed stickers before the start of the pageant.

Contestants entered the runway under an arch of white, pink and blue balloons representing the transgender flag. Illuminated by spotlights and an array of golden chandeliers, each contestant made their debut appearance in colorful gowns meant to resemble their own interpretations of “pride.”

When contestant Tangerine Summers was asked in the Q&A portion why she chose to participate in the pageant and what PRIDE means to her, and said she’s been part of the drag community for over 40 years but had never competed in a PRIDE pageant before. She chose to compete because she’s proud of who she is. 

“To me, pride means being who you are, and being proud of what you are, no matter what nobody says or what nobody does to you,” Summers said. “Be proud of who you are.”

In the second half of the evening, each of the contestants shocked attendees with their electric dance performances for the talent portion, and they received resounding support and applause. 

Avery felt the pageant was significant because the Athens drag community doesn’t usually have the chance to host such formal pageantry.

“It gives a lot of the drag queens an opportunity to showcase their talents in a way that’s unique and more formal,” Avery said.

Athens PRIDE started out as an LGBTQ community potluck in 1998, according to the organization’s website. PRIDE has grown more every year since then and has now expanded to an entire week of events, including the pageant, which leads up to a huge street festival at the end of the week, Avery said. 

Farrah Johnson, who entertained the audience with a comedy routine toward the end of the pageant, said she looks forward to attending as many PRIDE events in Athens as she possibly can. 

“A lot of people in the South aren’t as fortunate to have this much going on and this much celebration for PRIDE,” Johnson said. “So it’s really great to be able to come to these events and show support for our brothers and sisters.”

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