Serving My Community with Pride
Photo by Keans Llamera | www.KeansLlamera.com

Serving My Community with Pride

Edgar Reyes, Beginning a Pageant Journey to Mr. Gay World 2020

I was born and raised in Los Angeles, California, to a strong Catholic family of Mexican descent. Going to Sunday mass was a religious practice for me growing up, which was encouraged by my devoted grandmother. Throughout my childhood years I was an altar boy, a reader, a catechist, and a choir director gaining the respect and acknowledgement of my community. At a young age I was blessed with having a community that loved me for who I was and what I did. I took pride in serving and used my privilege and authority to make a change when needed. I like to say that I never came out because my father always knew I was different and always asked how I felt. On the other hand, my mother was always in denial and it took years of arguing against her beliefs to get her to accept me at the age of 19.

I never gave up and fought for my acceptance. I always knew that it was ok to be a gay Catholic and some people are just brainwashed to think God is hateful. My passion for activism began in 2008 with the battle of Proposition 8 which stated that same sex unions would be invalid throughout the state. The night before voting, our prayer group gathered as usual and one of the main topics was same sex marriage. The leaders of that group reminded everyone to vote for Prop 8 stating that marriage is between a man and a woman, and the bible says so. I so happen to arrive towards the end of this and sat in the back listening to this nonsense which ignited a rage in me. I got up at the end while they were making their announcements and pretended to have an announcement. My heart poured out as I directed my thoughts to the followers, which were mostly women. I reminded them that they were mothers first and to think of their children, to love them and to share that same love with the world and accept people for who they love. To my surprise, that was my proudest moment because everyone cheered for me and I felt humbled and grateful to have spoken on behalf of the LGBT community at the age of 16.

Photo by Keans Llamera | www.KeansLlamera.com

I was always labeled as different and, as many gays, faced bullying at a very young age throughout elementary and middle school. My prayers were answered when I began high school in a more diverse neighboring city. I was able to be out and proud and meet more people like me while not facing any bullying from anyone. I became GSA (Gay Straight Alliance) president in 11th grade and attended the annual conference “Models of Excellence” for LGBT teens at Occidental College. This helped empower us with workshops and gave us resources to use in our everyday lives. I was fortunate to meet other teens who faced bullying and found it rewarding to be able to share my story with them and assure them that life will only get better. I also attended my first Pride during that year which gave me hope and introduced me to an open, friendly world.

After high school, I volunteered as a production assistant for Pride for four years. I began as a host for Teen Pride and quickly found that volunteering was my passion. At age 23, three years ago, I decided to move to Fort Lauderdale and join Pride Fort Lauderdale as the Events Coordinator. I found a family here and am grateful to have found a city that embraces community activism while being the leading “Mecca” for LGBT tourism. I have helped in managing top pride kick offs and have worked together with the most influential city leaders in our community. I find myself being empowered every day with great people who inspire everyone to give more and sacrifice for the greater good of our existence.

Currently, I am a student at Broward College hoping to graduate in Hospitality, specializing in event management. I give myself time to be a part of local organizations who look out for our family members who are in most need such as The Smart Ride, which helps raise funds that go towards local agencies that help people living with AIDS/HIV.

Photo by Keans Llamera | www.KeansLlamera.com

The next step I’ve chosen to take in my life is participating in the Mr. Gay World pageant. I have been chosen to represent my parents’ home state of Oaxaca at the national competition of Mr. Gay World Mexico 2021 taking place June 19-21, 2020, in the state of Yucatán. After my participation in the Mr. Gay World USA national competition last month, I am prepared to use this experience to win the Mexican title and represent my parents’ home country at the international pageant in 2021.

I’ve based my decision to participate because this pageant represents what I have done all my life which is to fight for equality and use my voice to spread love globally. I want to become an ambassador of hope all around the globe and bring love to the youth and help our LGBTQ+ individuals who are facing persecutions in environments that are not gay welcoming. I will proudly represent my country and, most definitely, will transmit the love and activism that we here in Wilton Manors showcase in our everyday lives.

Please join me and support me with your votes and be assured that I will continue to fight for my community and make all of you proud spreading Pride all over the world.

Follow me at www.Facebook.com/Joshua.Reyes93, displayed Edgar J Reyes, and follow my journey in this pageant experience.

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