Monday, September 27, 2010

The moment I realized the power of what I'm doing.


That moment was not while I was eating pancakes with Miss Brooklyn, but that was fun.  Saturday morning started out with a fun morning at the Miss Brooklyn Applebee's pancake fundraiser with Miss Brooklyn (obvi) Mallory Hagan and Miss Brooklyn's OT Joelle Bracco.  On my way there, I picked up a straggler along Wall Street, Hannah Wright Miss Metropolitan, and we headed out to meet up with Kim Cantoni Miss Richmond County, and Miss NY's OT Alison Stroming.  After lots of photos, we took a trip to DSW to check out new shoes and take the infamous Miss America picture  -- in front of the DSW sign, in my Miss America Brand T-Shirt (pageanttees.com) and I was even wearing Artistry Makeup - walking. sponsor. advertisement.  :)


Then it was back into the City for the Relay for Life with Hannah and Kim.  It was at the beautiful World Financial Center Atrium, but to our surprise, indoors, not outdoors.  Everyone was so excited to have us and my hat goes off to people like Robyn, Christina, and Myrna who worked very hard to put all of this together.  I did a few interviews, I'll post when they go up, and spoke on stage briefly about lung cancer and the even larger effects that smoking has on the LGBT community, leading to higher cancer and health risks. Then it was off to the gym at NY Health and Racquet Club and then straight to David Barton Gym for training with Ben Yosef, MiBoLife Fitness.  At MAOT, Sierra Minott did a whole segment on "You might be a pageant girl if..."  Well, you might be a pageant girl if...you go to two different gyms in one day. haha


And now for the biggie. Sunday was the moment.  Sunday was the 7th Annual Wedding March across the Brooklyn Bridge - a huge statement for marriage equality.  I spoke at the rally at City Hall in Foley Square in front of hundreds of people.  Before I addressed the crowd, people were coming up right and left asking for pictures or sharing with me their stories or how they have followed my journey towards becoming Miss America.  I have never felt as supported and encouraged as I did this day. I want to bottle it all up and save it for later!  I spoke following Congressman Jerry Nadler and before City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Senator Tom Duane.  As I approached the microphone with the energy of the crowd vibrantly applauding my introduction as a straight ally, I reviewed one more time what I wanted to say.  And I got there and was just in awe.  As I began to speak, I realized that nothing I could plan could be more perfect for this moment than just speaking from my heart.  Previous speakers had challenged us all to vote in November elections and to be in Albany, lobbying in February.  I accepted my challenge there on that podium and offered one more promise.



Yes, I just about cried, because I was overcome with emotion, realizing that this was it.  This was the moment when I realized the power of what I'm doing, the message I'm spreading, and the amazing opportunity and public platform the Miss America Organization has provided me. 

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Senator Tom Duane
Ronnie Kroell and his boyfriend Taylor, Ross Levi - Executive Director of Empire State Pride Agenda

 As for the celebrity fun, Sonja Morgan, one of the Real Housewives of NY, recognized me from the Empire State Pride Agenda and brought me over to meet all the ladies of RHNY, spend some time with them and then march with them in the very front - yes, on camera the entire time. At the end of the march, on the Brooklyn side of the bridge, I stood on a big rock and video taped the crowd as they came off the bridge in a sea of rainbow umbrellas. People chanted, "I love you Miss New York!!" What a cool, cool moment!


So much has happened!!

ahhhh!! So much has happened in the past week and a half!

For starters, I spent last weekend in Utica, NY at the Pride Along the Mohawk festival.  I was hosted by Jeff Sterling and his partner Milford, who have both worked very hard to support the LGBTQ/A community in upstate New York.  (LGBTQ/A = a little longer than normal, right?  Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning, and Allies)  The festival was small, but mighty and gave yet another reference to how people display "pride."  With beautiful hospitality, the people of Utica welcomed me and have become huge supporters of my role in the fight for equality.  During the festival on Saturday, I did a radio show with A Thousand Moms that you can listen to below.  Our topic focus was on the recent suicides that have been related to sexual orientation discrimination.  Unfortunately, that fueled an entire hour long show - there is too much to talk about - too many news stories on this issue.

  
Listen to internet radio with A Thousand Moms Talk on Blog Talk Radio

On Sunday, Jeff and Milford hosted an interfaith religious ceremony with Hindu and Buddhist chants, a message by the Catholic priest and prayers by Methodist ministers.  We listened to the sermon about Leviticus and Romans, two books of the Bible usually used against homosexuality.  He ended with Romans 12.  It really brought ideas full circle for me because my favorite Bible verse is Romans 12:18 "If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone."  This is the verse I recited in my on stage question at Miss Jubilee two years ago and I think it's a universal one upon which we can all agree.  On a day that it was supposed to rain, it held off for these beautiful messages to be shared with people whose minds were open to hear them.  After grabbing a plateful from the potluck dinner, it was home on the train back to NYC.

Utica religious event features Miss New York, focuses on gay rights - Utica Observer Dispatch, September 20, 2010


On Monday it was time for the MAO Lottery! Such an exciting time because now it all feels so real! The way the lottery works is this:  You sit in front of a computer for what could be five minutes or five hours and wait for your state to pop up.  When it does, you have five minutes to call in your choice for your contestant number/group.  I was called in the late 30's when over half of the contestants were on the board.  I am officially Contestant #6 in the Alpha Group -- Monday afternoon interview, Tuesday Talent, Wednesday On Stage Question, Thursday Swimsuit and Evening Gown.  Interview prep meetings started the next morning, and ballet classes at Broadway Dance Center that night.  We're off!!  Road to the big show!  


The next afternoon, I also had my first round of facials and skin treatments with Dr. Hatcher and Violeta from Chelsea Dermatology, one of our amazing sponsors.  "He's gonna have  your face as smooth as a baby's butt by January."   <--- yep.  That was the encouragement I received from someone on the Miss NY Board.  Thank you. :)


Young Leaders

I went to an event last week that was so exciting to be a part of. The International Youth Council is an organization that was started by Jamie Ansorge and Esperanza Garcia (and others) who met at the UN Youth Assembly in 2007. IYC engages young leaders from around the world who are involved in international policy change, political advocacy and training.  Esperanza graciously spent her birthday fundraising to "Support Global South Youth in Climate Change." The fundraising efforts will go to help youth delegates attend the UNFCCC COP16 conference in Cancun, Mexico.  The goal is to help youth from developing countries, those who are affected by climate change the most, have stronger representation in international climate negotiations.

Totally out of my league, it was incredible to witness this event.  Each speaker shared passionate and inspiring stories, we were honored by the presence of Ambassador Oscar de Rojas, Director of the Financing for Development Office UNDESA, who echoed our thoughts about youth leadership.  Young leaders have an energy and an idealism that is unparalleled by most.  We have an optimism that carries us through seemingly impossible or unrealistic change.  We have an energy that radiates and involves and inspires others to jump on the bandwagon, follow suit, or start their own revolution.  That's exactly what the people in that room were doing last week.  I was incredibly grateful to be validated and recognized for the work that I am doing as a young leader.  It is admittedly intimidating to walk into a room of people like this, but what they did was recognize what common ground we have, rather than stereotyping me as a "beauty queen."  They understand and support the platform that the Miss America Organization brings to young women as an opportunity to speak and affect change on passionate issues.  For this, I am so thankful.  And for the inspiration with which they left me, I am eternally grateful.



About International Youth Council


Our mission is to bring together and support young leaders from around the world in pursuit of partnership, progress, and the Millennium Development Goals. We seek to empower the next generation of leaders by providing them with the training, resources, and opportunities they need to succeed. We also advocate for an official body representative of the youth within the United Nations power structure. We hope to inspire the youth of the world to act and give them the tools to make a difference. Our belief is that the problems of tomorrow, our generation, and our interests are not adequately represented. As capable advocates of the future, we wish to ensure that the leaders of today leave a world worthy of our inheritance tomorrow. Through the commonality, enthusiasm, and idealism of youth, we can overcome national and international differences. We will advocate for policies that will benefit every future generation in the name of peace, progress, and sustainability.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

TSHIRTS!! BIG DEAL!!

Ah how cool is this!?! My sister's friends have a graphic design company and wanted their first project to be Miss New York tshirts! Everything can be checked out - as in looked at AND purchased! -  on my Facebook Fan Page HERE.  Gotta have something to wear to that viewing party you're going to have for Miss America!


I’m really excited about my partnership with Black+Smith, Ltd.: “Design and craft for the Social Era.” This  specialty line of t-shirts will benefit work and advertisement with Empire State Pride Agenda and PFLAG NYC, both organizations committed to achieving equality and justice for LGBT New Yorkers and their families.

Click the “Shop Now” tab at the top of the screen to get your shirt and support a great cause!

And take a look at all the awesome people in Cincinnati at family dinner wearing the shirts!!


Relay PSA

Monday, September 20, 2010

Lady Gaga strikes again

Right now I'm awaiting the Miss America Lottery for my contestant number.  But when I'm finished, I'm going to do this.  You should too. Call your Senators. or email them HERE



Sunday, September 19, 2010

Upcoming Events - join me!

September/October is a huge time for LGBT community events. I will be attending, hosting and receiving awards at many of them. I hope you will consider joining me for some of them! I have been working hard as a part of the PFLAG NYC Dinner Committee to surpass our success of last year's dinner. And most honorably, I am the Douglas W. Jones Leadership Award Recipient at the Empire State Pride Agenda dinner!
  • October 9
    • A Thousand Moms event in the Hamptons - View Press Release
    • 5:00-7:00 at the home of Walter Donway and Robin Shepherd, 279 Stephen Hands Path, East Hampton, NY
  • October 11
    • PFLAG NYC Annual Awards Dinner for the Safe Schools Program honoring Brian Burke, Olympic Hockey Coach, David Steward from the Point Foundation, Jet Blue, and more, hosted by Rory O'Maley.
    • 6:00 at TriBeCa Rooftop
    • VIP Cocktail Reception at 6:00 hosted by yours truly, Miss New York 2010
    • Tickets: www.pflagnyc.org/dinnertickets  Individual VIP $350,  Regular $250

Of course all of these dinners and events are held during busy times for all of us.  If you are unable to attend any, I encourage you to chose one to donate to.  They are all unique and have different yet overarching missions of equality for all people and making today safe for youth. I'm honored to be invited and working with so many of these incredible organizations.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Pancakes - Next Saturday - be there!!

A SHORT STACK FOR A TALL CAUSE

Miss Brooklyn Scholarship Organization Teams with Applebee’s for the Flapjack Fundraiser

BROOKLYN, NY —What could be better on a Saturday morning that a nice plate of fluffy, hot pancakes? Well how about having Miss Brooklyn (www.missbrooklyn.org) pass you the maple syrup? Join Mallory Hagan, Miss Brooklyn 2010 and Joelle Bracco, Brooklyn’s Outstanding Teen, for the two-hour Flapjack Fundraiser on Saturday, September 25. Sponsored by Applebee’s, the event takes place at the eatery’s Atlantic Terminal (139 Flatbush Avenue at Dekalb Avenue) location in Downtown Brooklyn. Proceeds will raise money for the scholarships that are given to be given to the winners of the upcoming Miss Brooklyn pageant this October.

“Applebee’s has always been considered a neighborhood favorite and its dedication to the local community is well known,” says Miss Brooklyn Executive Director, Amaris Acosta. “The Miss Brooklyn Organization hopes to accomplish the same by providing our hometown girls with the platform to serve the community through volunteerism, as well as the opportunity to earn scholarships to further their education and future goals.”

Serving both as a fundraiser and as a chance for the Brooklyn community to get to know more about the titleholders and the pageant that is a local preliminary for the Miss America pageant, the breakfast event begins at 8 am and includes a menu of flapjacks, bacon, eggs and juice—an enticing Saturday morning meal. 
Tickets for the event can be purchased via the Miss Brooklyn website at www.missbrooklyn.org.
RSVP by Saturday September 19.  Hope to see you there -- I'm going!!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A few fun announcements!

My apologies for the delay, but I wanted to recognize that over Labor Day weekend, the Miss Buffalo pageant named their new titleholder during the Buffalo Wing Festival! Congratulations to Desiree Wiley, Miss Buffalo 2011! Also added to the Miss New York Class of 2011 is Allison Carlos, Miss Forest Queen 2011!
Desiree Wiley, Miss Buffalo 2011
Allison Carlos, Miss Forest Queen 2011

Preparation continues and takes a turn for the awesome! I am happy to announce that I am back with my trainer Ben Yosef, President of MiBoLife Fitness, for my swimsuit prep for Miss America. I worked with Ben for 4 months before Miss New York and achieved great results, so I am excited to see how we improve upon that physique in the next 4. For more information or to start working out with Ben yourself, contact ben@mibolife.com.

I have officially selected my talent for Miss America which will be sponsored by Break the Floor Productions (JUMP Dance convention), of course with the costume by Red Carpet Pageant and Prom.

My official headshot and bio have been added to missamerica.org! Yay take a look!

Monday, September 13, 2010

9/11 National Day of Service

Nine years ago, September 11th changed the world and the way that the American people think, act, react and observe.  It also changed the way that people serve and are motivated to do so.  Out of tragedy came this day in which we can all serve together, united, to make a positive difference in our communities.  Through New York Cares, I participated in the National Day of Service, supported by MyGoodDeed Inc., at PS 140 on the Lower East Side.  Alison came with me and as I rounded the corner, the entire block was surrounded by security, black cars and SUVs, and police.  Vice President Joe Biden and his wife Jill were apparently joining us.  Unfortunately, by the time Alison and I got up to the front of the line to meet VP Biden and get a picture, he had to leave.  Instead, we met Jordan Sparks!  Still exciting! She participated in the 9/11 Day of Service last year and was so excited to come back this year - she was all about getting down to business and makin' some cards.


We spent a few hours making cards and packages for our military.  When I sat down with a little boy, he started to write his card that said "plese come home. we love you."  I spent time attempting to be artistic, and this card that he made will be so much better than anything I could create with a BFA in Art.  Next, we headed out to the playground to repaint the PS 140 playground games, United States map, caterpillar ABC's and the giant yellow kickball field.  It was a great opportunity to give back on a day when people lost so much.  To Matt, Blake, John, Mark and the hundreds of thousands of people, I don't know in our military, I say thank you.


I live in the Financial District, so I'm so close to the WTC site.  If you attempt to get to the PATH train at rush hour, you feel the intensity of people who are just going home on a regular weekday afternoon.  But then to attempt to imagine what it was like by my house nine years ago, is unfathomable.  In honor and memory of September 11, 2001, thank you to those to rescued and saved, those who were lost, those who will never be the same, and those who fight to this day that we keep our freedoms and security in the United States.
So I took a few shots from my roof tonight.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

From 8 million in NYC to 6,000 in Hoopeston…


I took a trip down memory lane this weekend, going to National Sweetheart in Hoopeston, IL to cheer for Hannah Wright, Miss New York’s Sweetheart. The National Sweetheart Pageant is a competition for the 1st or 2nd Runners Up around the country to compete against national caliber competition…with none of the pressure and all of the fun. It is an incredible learning opportunity and experience, but even more importantly, a time where you truly connect with the girls and make amazing lasting friendships because you can all relate to each other with something uniquely special.  The biggest thing I took away from competing at Sweetheart two years ago was something I shared with a few of the girls.  You experience “competition” in a new light, with new feelings and attitudes that you can reflect upon at your next state competition.  In that time of stress and natural pressure the next year as the returning runner up, you can remember how you felt at Sweetheart: full of stress-free excitement, having an inordinate amount of fun and genuine pride in yourself and the other girls. The reactions of preliminary winners, finalists, every announcement on the Sweetheart stage is so exciting to watch and truly unique.  But when I saw it last night, and then I saw their dance party on stage after the competition, I turned to my mom and Hannah’s parents and just said, “THAT is what Miss America is.” I didn’t make Top Ten or win any award on the Sweetheart stage, but it fueled me with wisdom, memories and friendships that carried me through my journey towards becoming Miss New York and will continue on to Miss America. 


During the day on Sunday, I got to spend some great time with Kaitlin Davis, one of New Jersey’s finest, of course eating sweet corn at the National Sweet Corn Festival of which National Sweetheart is a part, and then spent the rest of the day with Pauli Mayfield, Miss Iowa, and I so much enjoyed the conversations we had. She caught my eye in Orlando and she definitely upheld her reputation in getting to know her better. She’s the real deal.  Back to the pageant, the competition was fantastic and Top Ten was a group of really really strong girls.  If you read my blog, you probably read my Facebook or Twitter and already know the results, but just in case you missed it…


Top Ten:
KY AR NY NE IN CA NC DE AL FL
Prelim Talent: NY IA AL    Non-finalist Talent: IA    Overall Talent: NY
Prelim Swim:  CA AL GA NC

4th RU: Arkansas, Amy Crain
3rd RU: Florida, Diana Kelly
2nd RU:  New York, Hannah Wright
1st RU: Kentucky, Ann-Blair Thornton
National Sweetheart: Indiana, Brittany Hagan




Every time Hannah’s name was called, I got soooo excited (and obnoxious in the audience I’m sure – I lost my voice…again…to prove it.)  I just love this girl and I am so proud of her.  New York is really takin’ names this year!! From Alison at MAOT to Hannah at Sweetheart….ahhh I guess pressure’s on!  Someone sent me “Oh no, I hope Hannah’s not disappointed in 2nd RU.”  Are you kidding me!?  She was just named 2nd Runner Up in a national Miss America-level pageant! That’s unbelievable!  Of course it’s more fun to hear your name as the winner, but what a phenomenal achievement.  I’m so glad I was there to watch her, spend some time with her parents, and cheer all the girls on. You should all be so proud.  The tradition WILL continue – you will definitely see some of those girls on the Miss America stage.  And the other tradition will continue too…they may not all be from the Top Ten J


On the drive back to the hotel, I told my mom that I find myself so often using the words UN-believable…UN-real…with so much emphasis and almost bewilderment when talking about my year as Miss New York and my time in the Miss America Organization in general.  It’s not from a na├»ve place, because I feel like I really know MAO and have witnessed so many of the amazing people within it.  However, my experiences, the people I meet, the things they’re doing, the talent and charisma and intelligence they possess, all continue to impress me and inspire me.  And it’s making it all absolutely believable; I guess I just continue to realize how incredibly blessed I am to be a part of it.