Mr. Gay United States Overcomes Past and Present Failures to Capture the Title
Have you ever wanted something so bad that you’d do anything to reach your goal?
Colton Bacall, Mr. Gay United States 2012, started entering pageants in 2010 at the age of 19. The rules for most pageants require contestants be at least 21 years old because they are normally held in bars or nightclubs.
"I’ve never been carded to get in to a gay bar before," Bacall said. "I just decided that I was good enough to win it, so I got a fake ID and ran."
Now that Bacall is 21 and pageant legal, he doesn’t have to worry about qualifying for them anymore.
The Gay United States Pageantry System was originally founded in 2004. The creation of this pageant gave performers a chance to compete for a title outside of the three larger pageants in America: Continental, USofA and Miss Gay America. The pageantry system was modeled after The Miss Gay America rules and regulation with an all boy pageant, meaning contestants that ran for both Mr. and Miss must be biological males. In 2010, rules were changed and divisions added that allowed for biological females and transgender people the chance to compete.
Bacall’s hometown of Luray, Virginia is home to the Luray Caverns, considered to be one of the world’s most spectacular natural wonders. The Caverns, much like Bacall’s pageant life are full of twists, turns and dead ends.
"My first pageant was Mr. Holiday in 2010. It took place in North Carolina. I was completely overwhelmed and unprepared. It was horrible," Bacall said.
Bacall blamed his bad showing on horrible stage fright and even concedes that he still gets nervous even today. "I’m more nervous of failure if nothing else," he said.
The road to the title of Mr. Gay United States started in 2011. Bacall suffered two disappointing showings at two preliminaries, Mr. Roanoke and Mr. Virginia. He managed to rebound and win Mr. Capital City which allowed him to go on and compete for Mr. Gay United States in 2011. Bacall finished as second alternate that year, handily beating the winners of the two competitions he lost.
"From that moment I told myself that I had 365 days to get ready to try and win it all," Bacall said.
Bacall would go on to compete for and win the title of Mr. Virginia Commonwealth in 2012. The moment his name was announced, the ball was set in motion for him to be able to capture the title that eluded him the previous year.
Bacall says his gay family is full of drag queens that he had always seen running for national titles. It was only when he ran for Mr. Gay United States this time that he really understood what they went through.
"I didn’t realize the money and time that it really takes to run for a title," he said. My boyfriend would get so frustrated because we’d run to Kentucky and spend $2,000 for clothes, then head to Northern Virginia for props. All this works for a two hour pageant, and clothes I only wear for a 40 second model on stage."
Bacall says his win came as an unexpected surprise. Plagued with travel troubles - his reserved U-Haul wasn’t available and traffic was bumper to bumper - Bacall didn’t think he had a shot. "The hotel shower didn’t even work. I had to ask the people next to me to use theirs."
When it came time for the show, a dancer was late and Bacall couldn’t find any Duct Tape, which is apparently used to hold up dress pants so they don’t move around during presentation.
"I had to ask my friend (Miss Virginia Commonwealth who was competing the following day) to borrow a shoe lace to tie my pants up."
Bacall finished in the top two of all five categories in the pageant. Consistency pays off.
When his name was announced, Bacall says he instantly burst into tears.
"They (pageant directors and photographers) couldn’t get me to stop balling. I told them, ’Just take the pictures, I know I’m a mess’."
After the pageant was over at close to 2 a.m., Bacall sat at the bar with his friends and just talked.
"My victory party consisted of late-night McDonalds, no sleep and having to judge the Miss pageant the next day. I was too excited to sleep, so that one is on me."
Heading forward, Bacall says he looks forward to doing walks at other pageants, appearing at preliminaries and helping to grow his pageant system. His reign as Mr. Gay United States ends in late 2013.
When asked what helped him the most in securing his victory, Bacall sighed and simply said: "What held me back before was listening to what others said. Always do what you’re comfortable with, answer how you want, dress how you want. Winners are always themselves."