Friday, September 01, 2017

Pride 2018 King and Queen Inaugurated

Written by  Bill Redmond-Palmer
Queen Bleu and King Jay- monarchs of Pride 2018 Queen Bleu and King Jay- monarchs of Pride 2018

As US prez riles, will queer Baltimoreans turn to monarchy?

Royalty doesn't get more prideful than this! The pageants to select Baltimore's new King and Queen of Pride 2018 took place August 4th at the Nest at the Baltimore Eagle. Jewel-studded, 24k-gold diadems now grace (at least metaphorically) the heads of Chris Jay- King of Pride for Baltimore Pride 2018- and Sapphire Bleu, the new Queen. The new regents spoke to Baltimore OUTloud about their coming reign.

"I began performing in 2012, including serving as Miss Gay Baltimore America in 2015, and had just returned to drag after some time off," said Queen Bleu. "While I was gone I noticed that the community is divided. I felt like it was time for someone to step up and work to bring it back together. I'm no messiah, but I have a love for my city and community, and I hope becoming Queen of Pride will be the gateway to make that happen."

"I've been performing in burlesque for about five years and this is my first drag pageant," said King Jay. "I wanted to bring something to the stage that people had not seen before, drawing on my burlesque experience, to just see what would happen. I didn't know if people would like it because it was different, but it seems to have worked!"

"The most important thing I want to achieve as Queen," said Bleu, "is to work to bring together the races and different genres of our community together; to be a gateway where we can all come together instead of tearing each other apart."

"I just want kings to have more visibility," said Jay. "I want to have fun and do some service for my community here in Baltimore."

"I've served our community through doing casework with the National Institutes of Health and Behavior," said Bleu. "I worked LGBTQ people with HIV/AIDS, and counseled homeless LGBTQ kids, providing information and assessing their needs to provide them the best help possible."

"In DC, a friend and I started a phenomenal and thriving drag troupe called Prettyboy Drag," said Jay. "I also produced the Chocolate City Burlesque Cabaret that had a huge impact on the black burlesque community. Everything that I do, I am trying to think of ways to give back to the community."

"The song that must be on the soundtrack of my life would be ‘That's the Way it Is' by Celine Dion," said Bleu. "Nothing I have ever achieved has been easy, but when your heart is in the right place, and you want something bad enough, you do whatever you need to do to get it. And that's the way it is, and that's how I live my life. Life is what it is; it's what you make of it, and what you take from it."

"'Where Does this Door Go' by Mayer Hawthorn is a song about making choices and trusting in the universe," said Jay, "so when I am down that is my go to song. That would be the song required to be on the soundtrack of my life."

"My champion has always been my grandmother," said Bleu. "She's no longer with us, but she's the one who taught me the example of working hard, doing the things that matter most, and not focusing on trivial things. Her strength was everything, she overcame a lot in her time, and she transferred that onto my sister and I, onto our whole family."

"My greatest champion is my mother," said Jay. "She is the strongest, most amazing person I know. She took nothing, and built a whole lot of something and brought me up in it, and gave me space to find myself. I could not be here doing this if it wasn't for my mother's hard work."

"Today I'm most thankful for my recovery," said Bleu. "There was a point where life's choices and situations had me hooked really bad on recreational drugs, but I have been clean and sober now for six years. Since that recovery, I could discover who I was and that I could have a career, so everything good has stemmed from that, and I am most grateful for that."

"I'm most thankful for acceptance," said Jay. "For a long time, I didn't know if being the way I am, and looking the way I do, would be something that people would accept. A lot of times I would talk myself out of doing things because I thought I didn't fit the body type or the stereotype of what people were looking for. I'm just thankful that I've been accepted and that people will see me for who I am, and can show love for me just being myself."

Baltimore OUTloud congratulates the regal winners and looks forward to working with Queen Sapphire Bleu (Facebook.com/Sapphirebleu32) and King Chris Jay (Facebook.com/chris.jennings.31149) in the coming year.

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