Last month, Kirby Kolby snagged the title of "Miss Gay D.C. 2012." In October, he'll go on to represent the District in the Miss Gay America pageant; Miss Gay D.C. 2011, Coti Collins, currently holds the national title. But what does it mean to rep the District as "Miss Gay'?
It means that you don't identify as a woman, are definitely not transgender—but aren't necessarily gay.
"Contestants must be male, at least twenty-one (21) years old and can not have or be on any type hormone," the contest rules state. "Absolutely no breast implants, cosmetic or body enhancing implants below the neck or silicone (or any other similar type product-chemical) injections, excluding the face, will be allowed before or during the contestant's reign." The pageant "reserves the right to require a medical examination or physical examination in the event that a contestant is suspected of violation of this regulation." Organizers "may require an examination based on 'visual observation' at which case the contestant must consent, or face disciplinary actions, including suspension or disqualification."
Strangely, straight men are not explicitly barred by pageant rules (although contestants can be barred for any reason if "the entry of the contestant would not be in the best interest of the contest"). Which leads us to another weirdness of this title: Drag is a big part of gay culture, but aren't there other members of the gay community who might more accurately be titled "Miss Gay D.C."—you know, lesbians?
The Miss Gay America title originated back in the 70's, before the "gay community" expanded to recognize the wider LGBT umbrella. In many ways, though, women and trans people still lack equal representation within the community today. Drag has the potential to break through the binary to promote free gender expression for everyone. But not if it means crowning men impersonating women while perpetuating the marginalization of lesbians and trans people.