The Mz Pageant was a Tremendous Success | Opinion

  • Thank you for your support

Erika Norell and Justin Wyse. Photo by JR Davis.

Pride is something that has various meaning to each of us within the LGBTQ community, especially in the year of 2024. My first pride was in Fort Myers around 2002, when I was just a young gay boy living my life. Pride was a small event compared to the giant parties we have come to know and love in South Florida. With about 500 people from our community, we thrived to find family, friends, and our place in this world.

Pride then was a way to find my place within our community, but more importantly it was the only way to find your family. Today, the meaning for me is a way to spread the knowledge and information about our community to those who may not know our rich history. I am grateful for those that came before me, as they have given my family the ability to thrive and be ourselves. The LGBTQ community is powerful and amazing and is filled with individuals that do the hard work of keeping us together. After working in journalism/news printing for more than 15 years, it is our role as the leading community newspaper to inform our community of why we are here and how to come together.

Jason Parsley, my business partner, and I were given a choice a little over a year ago on whether we would continue to have a voice in South Florida for our community. Through a great loss, we created Out South Florida, a community-oriented newspaper, that strives to spread cheer and happiness, all while holding community members accountable for the things they do. We have been able to provide a true voice for our community through the many endeavors we have undertaken through our editorial voice.

This year, we have accomplished many milestones within our industry, all helping to propel us to becoming a national leader in LGBTQ journalism. In the late fall of 2023, we launched the first of its kind, a journalism scholarship fund that would help ensure that our future leaders are educated with proper degrees, to be able to lead us into the future that awaits all of us. Through this, the Mz OutSFL Pageant system was created. Unsure of the possibilities, we marched forward, naming Melissa St. John as our first of many to come, Queen of Queens. This helped us create a scholarship program that could live on for many years. The Out South Florida Melissa St. John College Student Scholarship Fund was established through the help of FlockFest Events and The Our Fund Foundation.

No one could have planned for the community support we received; I thank you for this as we could not have done this without your help. Creating a platform through the artistry of drag impersonation is no small task, as pageants play a critical role in our drag and trans community. The many platforms in our community, like the Miss Florida F.I. Pageant System, who is celebrating more than 50 years of bringing our community together through this amazing art form.

Twenty twenty-four was our inaugural year, showcasing some of the most amazing talent in South Florida. We saw talents from Kimberly Venom, Nay-Kia LaFace Armani, Camille Dior Love, Kataleya Davenport, Angie Ovahness Pryce, Erika Norell, and Leila Cox. What a talented group of artists to kick off our first year, all while naming Erika Norell our first titleholder. I had the opportunity to get to know each of the contestants and their inspiration for the artistry of female impersonation. 

Our story is never finished, and I urge you to continue to create new history for our community. Out South Florida is committed to being an integral part of an amazing LGBTQ community. It is an honor to work on your behalf, and it’s a privilege to be able to keep a community newspaper operating in South Florida. 

Please join us at Pride on June 15 as we celebrate the art of Female Impersonation on our glow light float or stop by our booth, near the Gables, to enter to win a vacation, valued over $16,000. Thank you for allowing us the opportunity we have been given!

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Julie Seaver Receives Community Leadership Award at Mz OutSFL Pageant

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