Well my friends, the time has come for me to pass the torch. As I finish preparations for Miss NC America this week, I look back on the past year with overwhelming gratitude. As Beyoncé says “I’ve done everything that I wanted and it was more than I thought it would be”. You never know what an experience will be until it happens. That’s why there is no end game, only the journey. With that, I now simultaneously reflect on the past and look to the future.
This year, I tried to promote our pageant and tell my personal story in hopes that I would not only peak an interest in the pageant and present our family with deserved integrity, but hopefully make a difference in someone’s life. I realized I had a voice and I chose to use it as best I could.
I’ve been tough on myself over each moment where I saw my actions as less than perfect. It’s true, I haven’t been perfect. I’ve been human. After soul searching and with the help of friends and sisters, I’m finally opening my eyes to my accomplishments of the year. I’m now unafraid to celebrate them. In doing so, I know that I have many to thank for helping me achieve them. I choose to look at my year as having been all about giving and receiving gifts.
With the help of a life-long best friend, Wes Taylor, I created a new website for our pageant to display our state in the light it deserves, to celebrate our history, and to provide information. In doing so, I received the gift of so many people involved in this pageant over the years, sharing their history with me and it was an honor. I plan to continue running this site after my reign as one way for me to give back to this pageant.
I went to Miss Gay America and I did my best. I made many friends and promoted our state to others. I learned more about what it takes to really push this art to a higher level. What a gift this was as well.
Later in the year, I befriended and met an young lady named Kyla in the Duke Children’s Hospital for the sake of cheering her up, while she gave me a bigger gift of inspiration than I can explain. This brought media attention to Kyla and her cause, as well as to our pageant system in newspapers across our state, our country, internationally, and even in People magazine.
Then pageantry season began. I wanted to show support for other systems in our state and so I accepted invitation to judge and perform in USofA and EOY preliminary pageants. I was given the gift of broader knowledge and appreciation for those systems. During this time, I was able to share a very special time with Brandy Alexander before she passed away, and I was able to share in many thoughts, feelings, and memories with Boom Boom Latour over the phone before she too left this life. They gave me the gift of history and meaning in the title I was representing.
I then began to hold my own city prelims in our state in accordance with the parameters provided to me. We had a wonderful prelim season. Everyone along the way either gave me the gift of adornment and/or the gift of a challenge. Those challenges were opportunities for growth and I am forever thankful for them. I’m so proud of each contestant and promoter who presented themselves with pride and integrity.
In the meantime, the new owners of the America system hired Andy Reynolds as their publicist and he has worked with me to secure some wonderful press for myself and the pageant. He got me the cover story of Qnotes, which has never been done before with a female impersonator. He also lined up interviews for me with the Charlotte Observer and biggest of all for me, a one-hour, on-air interview with Frank Stasio’s “The State of Things” on NPR’s NC Station, WUNC. I am so grateful for these opportunities.
One of the best experiences of my reign was going to Florida perform while proudly wearing my crown for my extended family members. This was a first for them and I thank this pageantry system for bringing me to a place where I could finally receive this kind of family support. I thank those particular family members for loving and accepting me for all that I am and just as I am.
All the while, I have worked my regular full-time job, and I have worked very hard with my partner Emily Scott as we chaired the Crape Myrtle Festival (my platform) and met our goal of raising $100,000 to give back to the HIV/AIDS community of North Carolina. This money also benefited efforts for lobbying and the furthering of equal rights for LBGT people during a time of HB2 and other major issues in our state. These opportunities have been amazing and I did my very best with all of them.
There were some dark times too. As I was extremely busy with all of the above and more, some folks have sought to cause me harm and some may continue to try. However, the list of experiences and accomplishments of the last year of my life cannot be tarnished by the projections of others due to their own insecurities. Those projections and efforts against me pale in comparison to all that I’ve overcome in real life. Even now after everything, I still honestly wish each of these people the absolute best. Hopefully, they can move on and focus on their own lives.
As I move forward with my life, I anticipate some of the plans I have next for myself. I’ve put so much into Vivian and my day career that I know it’s time to focus on Justin. I have lots of personal goals that I can’t wait to get working on. Anyone who knows me knows I can’t sit still for long. Eventually and when I am ready, I plan to return to the MGA system and push my way to the top or as close as I can get.
See folks, this pageant will change your life and it is well worth the work and growth to be a part of it. There is a continuous discussion of excellence in this system. Each of us strives for this not only in hopes of success within the pageantry system, but for personal growth in our own lives. We all have a different story and different circumstances. I believe that excellence includes meeting people where they are in order to communicate effectively. I think it means that we try every day to act and speak in ways of which we can later be proud. It means being true to ourselves and each other. Excellence is not perfection but the acknowledgement that we are all human and we continue to seek the best for ourselves and others. At least, this is what it means to me.
As I prepare to pass the torch, I wish each and every one of you the excellence that you strive for and deserve. You have given that to me already and I plan to continue spreading this notion in my journey. I wish nothing less for your newly crowned titleholder. I am forever changed by this experience and I leave you now as your forever Miss Gay NC America 2015.
All of my love and respect,
Justin Natvig aka Vivian Vaughn
Justin Natvig aka Vivian Vaughn
Miss Gay North Carolina America 2015
“Ah, when to the heart of man was it ever less than a treason to go with the drift of things, to yield with a grace to reason, and bow and accept the end of a love or a season?” –Robert Frost
p.s. I want to thank Jeff Miles, Wes Taylor, James Graebner, Felicia Powers, Eric Wendt, Donal O’Shields, Jeff Coble, Brian Senter, Curtis Major, Farrah Frantz and company, Blair Williams, Tiffany Storm, all members of the Crape Myrtle Festival Organization, Von Entertainment, the Miss Gay America system, and the sisterhood of forever Miss Gay NC Americas for making this year possible. It has been no less than an experience of a lifetime.
I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!