KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The 42nd Annual Miss Gay Missouri America (MGMA) pageant kicks off three days of competition Thursday evening as the state's oldest female impersonation contest returns to Kansas City after a 15-year absence. 
  
What's more, the controversial Westboro Baptist Church and and the “Gods Hate Fags” fundamentalist movement have decided to join the festivities and protest the storied contest. 
 
"We know well the  importance  of  freedom of  speech  and  the  right to assemble  and  protest  in a  peaceful manor, and we respect  the WBC's right to do so," said the MGMA Board. "However, we do not and will not embrace hatred and the mean-spirited, unenlightened manor in which they choose to get their message across. We choose a higher road; to turn the other cheek, and focus on a fabulous event." 
 
The pageant itself will be held April 9-11 at 7 p.m. at the Arts Asylum, 1000 E. Ninth St., and a revue show of former title-holders will be April 9 at 10 p.m. at Missie B’s, 805 W. 39th St.
 
Founded in 1973, MGM is the state’s oldest female impersonation contest and the second oldest preliminary to Miss Gay America (MGA).
AdriaAndrews1
 
Nineteen contestants from across the state have qualified to compete in categories of male interview, solo talent, evening gown, onstage question and long talent. The weekend will honor the reigning Miss Gay Missouri America 2014, Adria Andrews, and Miss Gay America 2015, Blair Williams.
 
Indeed, drag doesn’t get much better than this. With its marquee of formers and top-tier contestants, the stage is set for a lavish production and epic battle aptly themed Carnivale: A Circus Fantasy.
 
"I think the history alone speaks for itself," said Andrews (whose given name is Josh McMikle) of the pageant's appeal. "There are so many formers that people will remember from years past. I think that alone is a draw because some of them haven't been here for a long time."
 
"But aside from the history, you have a level of entertainment that's higher than some," Andrews continued. "I think people know they are going to see a good show when they come see a Missouri America pageant. They're going to see some great entertainers, they're going to see an incredible competition - that's because the girls there are hungry for it and they're all going to bring their A-game.  Everyone likes to see a good drag queen battle." 
 
While the America pageant system has evolved over the years – certain things remain sacrosanct.  Unlike some of her sister pageants, MGA requires that contestants be “all boy”—hence no hormones or body augmentation below the neck is allowed.
 
The duties of Miss Gay Missouri mirror that of the national title holder. The winner of the coveted crown must perform at and administrate over the system’s many preliminaries throughout the Show Me State.
 
"It's certainly been a year to remember and it's been more than I thought it could ever be," Andrews explained. "It's certainly been a lot harder than I thought it would be, but it's been such a fun ride. I've had so many other opportunities come by way just by being Miss Missouri."
 
This year's winner and first alternate will go on to compete at Miss Gay America in Memphis, TN, October 7-11, 2015. It's a journey Andrews has made on a few occasions, earning a Top 10 berth two years ago as MGM first alternate alongside reigning MGM 2013 Christa Collins, and again last year, placing in the top 5.  
 
"The very first time I went to Miss America I placed somewhere in the 30s - obviously nowhere near where I was hoping to be at that time," recalledMGMPoster2 Andrews. "But then to go back again and have Miss Missouri in the top 10 two years in a row was such an honor and I was glad to help put Missouri back on the map."
 
Eyeing the end of his reign this weekend, Andrews is proud of the mark he's made and looks forward to joining an illustrious list of formers as an official MGMA Alumnus, promising to be involved in "any way possible" to help sustain the legacy. 
 
This year Andrews sold 50/50 raffle tickets at each MGMA preliminary and with the help of a $1,000 matching fund will be presenting a check for $3,252 to the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Missouri on final night.
 
"My dad suffered from MS and he passed in 2002 due to complications from that," said Andrews. "I wanted to pick something a little bit different to raise money for and that way I could share more of a personal story with folks and just kind of connect and let them know a little bit more about me."
 
Asked what surprised him the most about being Miss Gay Missouri America and Andrews is quick to point out, "it's the little things that no one sees."
 
"Kudos to those board members because people have no idea what goes on behind the scenes to put on this pageant," Andrews concluded. "It's not like we just sign up for a venue and people show up and have a good time - there's so many little things and there's just so many little details that have to fall into place to make sure everything runs as smoothly as possible and they do a great job with that. I don't think they get enough recognition for all of the hard work that they put into this." 
 
Ticket prices (available at door) for Miss Gay Missouri 2015 are $10 for Preliminary Nights (Thurs. & Fri.) and $15 for Final Night (Sat.). For more information check out www.mgmpageantry.com.
 
Follow the pageant online using the hashtag #MGMA2015 
 
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