Buzzing about Miss Gay Arkansas | Arkansas Blog

Buzzing about Miss Gay Arkansas



The website BuzzFeed has devoted a serious amount of digital acreage to the recent Miss Gay Arkansas pageant, seemingly an oddity in this rural state except that this pageant has a long history and the first Miss Gay America was from Arkansas.

Perhaps this will serve as some counterpart to Arkansas's unfriendly image on LGBT issues given recent  legislation waved into law by Gov. Asa Hutchinson that prohibits civil rights protection for gay people and also protects people who discriminate against gay people in employment, housing and public accommodations.


The current crop of Bible Belt queens takes the opportunity to represent their state at nationals very seriously.

“That’s who I’m going to be,” said Jonathan Neighbors — who goes by Blaze Duvall in drag — referring to the coveted title of Miss Gay Arkansas. “The pageant’s the scraps I was built from as a kid.”

Neighbors, contestant 5, started doing drag when he fled his small northeast Arkansas hometown as a teenager. When his twin brother, who was also gay, died at 16, Blaze decided to honor his brother’s life and come out to his father. Their father, a Baptist deacon, responded with: “I’d rather shoot a fag than see one” — and he was true to his word. Neighbors has two bullet wounds from the incident. Because his father’s a police officer, no report was filed and Neighbors left Arkansas for New Orleans.

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