Monday, May 31, 2010

Happy Memorial Day!!

What's the true meaning of Memorial
Day? Is it just an excuse to grill out, lay in the sun and watch a parade on your day off? Nope. Memorial
Day is the day we set aside to remember those who have fought for our country and died or lived to tell their story. It's the day when we honor and thank every member of our military for putting their lives on the line in order to protect our rights and freedoms as Americans. 

Ironic that we would celebrate this national holiday in the midst of huge decisions being made about "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." Today we celebrate men and women who have taken an oath to protect our country: an oath that also keeps thousands of men and women in the closet, hiding their sexuality and therefore their true person. Presented in this context, how could one say that people should hide their sexual orientation in order to serve in our military? Eric Alva, the first wounded marine and purple heart recipient in the War in Iraq said, "When I was younger, I knew two things about myself: I was born to serve this country and I was born gay. Since 19 years old, I hid the latter because it would ruin my chance for the first." Which is a bigger sacrifice?  

Last week, the US House of Representatives passed the National Defense Authorization Act which removes DADT from federal statute. We are now depedent on the Senate to pass the bill through to Obama, who in his campaign spoke confidently about his plan to repeal DADT within his presidency.  On the opposite side, John McCain has threatened to issue a filibuster that completely overrides the entire Defense Act in order to prevent the repeal of DADT. It's a dangerous move that we, a country still fighting 2 wars, cannot afford. From the extreme right, we hear things like "Obama is trying to force homosexuality into the military." False. Passage of this bill and therefore the repeal of DADT will allow people to serve our country with the protection of equality and the freedom to be themselves -- one of the most important freedoms we are granted as human beings.  Be sure that your Senator is aware of your belief and support of all people serving equally in the United States military.

I am grateful for ALL of the military personnel who have served this country with honor and dedication. Thank you. Happy Memorial Day!   

Now go lay out.     

Friday, May 28, 2010


Normal day and I'm off to do two things in the morning here, so I thought I'd share as a way to recognize my sponsors!

1st stop: Build a base tan while doing skin rejuvenation at the same time at Beach Bum Tanning. Beach Bum has been my sponsor for the past 2 years and I'm really fortunate to have their support!

2nd stop: The gym. David Barton Gym in Chelsea has been my home since I moved into my new apartment last year after Miss NY. 25 minutes on the train is totally worth it to work out there with my trainer Ben Yosef, President of MiBoLife The Fitness Company. MiBoLife has developed a specific combination of exercise, weight training, diet and nutrition for me to maximize what my facility/body has to offer. I lift a lot more weights than I used to, building much more muscle definition and "flavor" than before and of course keep the cardio coming in a variety of exercises.

and stop 2.2 is the dance studio (at David Barton Gym) where I'll rehearse my talent, choreographed by Ashley Becker (remember the Ashley Becker is ammmaaazzzing! post?). And my mom gets to watch this time! She is landing in NYC in about 40 minutes and I'm really excited!

This is the ultimate swimsuit combination team! Thank you MiBoLife (Ben) and Beach Bum (Dante)!

Monday, May 24, 2010

ABC....It's as easy as 20-1-3!!

(to the tune of Jackson 5, obvi.)

2 pieces of news when I woke this morning.
  1. Personal training cancelled: bad news.
  2. Miss America signed a multi-year contract (through 2013) with ABC!!!: GREAT news!!

The Miss America Organization (MAO) is proud to announce it has reached a multi-year deal with the ABC Television Network to return as their network television partner for the 2011 Miss America Pageant that will be presented on January 15, 2011! The news was announced today by Sam Haskell, III, Board Chairman for the Miss America Organization and MAO President & CEO, Art McMaster. ABC aired the Miss America Pageant previously in 2004 and will once again retain the exclusive telecast rights through 2013.

"After thorough discussions and negotiations, we are confident that Miss America has reunited with the perfect network partner, ABC, which shares many of our same ideals and tradition," said Haskell. "Miss America's move back to network television is perfect timing as we celebrate our special 90th anniversary and look ahead to reach new heights and create a new path for the future of Miss America. Our brand is so rich in both philanthropy and history, and this new multi-year partnership will not only preserve this great institution, but it will also mark a new milestone in television with our friends at ABC."

View the entire press release HERE at

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Join the Elite 100-Club of Miss New York

The Elite 100-Club
Funding Miss New York’s $10,000 Scholarship Award
Through the Empire State Educational Scholarship Fund, Inc.
As a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, your $100 donation is tax-deductible!

Dear Friends,

The journey to selecting Miss New York 2010 has begun. We will have 20 incredible young women competing for the title of Miss New York 2010 in Albany on June 26, 2010. As volunteers of the Miss New York Scholarship Organization, we fully support our contestants’ educational pursuits knowing that higher education empowers them for success, both professionally and personally.

Our goal is to raise $10,000 to award our new Miss New York 2010. We need 100 people just like you to join the Elite 100-Club and help us reach our goal. We know economic times are tough; however, can you imagine the financial pressure our contestants and their families must face these days in order to pursue a degree?

The Miss New York Pageant is a state preliminary to Miss America that has a rich history in empowering young women to become leaders in their communities through higher education.We do not award cash prizes. Instead, we pay our scholarships directly to the contestants’ undergraduate or graduate institutions. Impressively, this year our Miss New York contestants are attending some exceptional New York schools including New York University, The Julliard School, Manhattan School of Music, as well as several SUNY campuses across the state. Alyse Zwick, Miss New York 2009, will utilize the scholarship she received from the Elite-100 Club to complete her undergraduate studies in Communications at the City University of New York.


1. Donate directly on our website, using the “make a donation” link.
2. Send your check for $100.00 via mail to:
Empire State Education Scholarship Fund
141 West 24th Street, #6
New York, NY 10011

We appreciate your support more than you know.

Kenny Mack, Executive Director, Miss New York Organization (
Erin Kennedy, President, Empire State Educational Scholarship Fund (

Monday, May 17, 2010


Here's a new one for you: Just days ago, a Boston third-grader's admission to a Catholic school was rescinded – solely because his parents are lesbians.

The same as other stories I've shared with you, here's the worst part – this is no isolated incident. Just a few months ago, a Catholic elementary school in Colorado expelled two preschoolers (that's right, preschoolers) for the same reason. And these are just some of the cases we know about.

Now, we understand that our constitution protects the right of religious institutions to make decisions that may be inconsistent with state nondiscrimination laws. But that doesn't make it right. The Golden Rule – do unto others as you would have them do unto you – should apply to us all.

If a child's father murdered someone, do you expel that child from school? nope. And murder is illegal. It's not illegal to be gay, yet we are expelling children for something they REALLY can't control.

PS. I didn't even know preschoolers could be expelled, did you?

Exciting weekend!

I've been absent from blog world for a few days because I've been doing a handful of things: moving apartments and walking down the aisle. <--- haha obviously not as the bride. I moved (only up two floors) into a great new apartment with my same roommates, Matt and Carlie, and added a boyfriend <-- also funny, clearly not mine, and our crazy little friend Leigh-Taylor. We are pretty excited for the ridiculous fun we will all have together!!


The wedding! Thursday night I flew to Knoxville, TN to be greeted at the airport at a wonderful time of 2:30 am by the bride's twin sister, Brittany Waddell. Brooke Waddell is married. For those of you who have followed my blog from Miss Jubilee, you may recognize that name or by the end of this story put two and two together that Brooke was the crazy Miss Tennessee Sweetheart when I competed at National Sweetheart. (blog here...scroll down til you see Dolly Parton.) We became fast friends - it's weird, we've spent a total of about 16 days in each other's company, but we just get each other in a way that's inexplainable unless you've been in a pageant and formed those bonds. Last year I went to Miss TN to cheer her on the week before Miss NY. She did not walk away with the title, and as sad as we all were, I realized that everything had been put into perspective. That weekend, I met Mark Pancratz, the man whose name Brooke took this weekend. THAT's why I went to TN last year - to meet Mark who would take care of my friend for the rest of her life. THAT's why Brooke didn't win Miss TN - to marry Mark who she could start her life and family with. When I witnessed the happiness and perfect bond of two people on their wedding day, it really grounded me and reminded me that this pageant, although incredibly significant in my life right now, something I'm working very hard for, will become a tiny part of my life in the broad scheme of things. Congratulations, Brooke and Mark Pancratz and the entire Pancratz and Waddell families!!

Also more great news! My best friend Ashley - who again, I met in a pageant - got engaged this week as well! Ah, so exciting!! Congratulations Ashley and Mike!!!

Summary: Megan Meadors was right when she stood up at the finals day brunch my first year in a state pageant. She said, "You meet your best friends in this organization. Your bridesmaids, friends and the people who will be a part of your life forever." I didn't get it then, but it sure has happened to me. I'm well on my way towards fulfilling Katherine Heigl in 27 Dresses :)

Saturday, May 8, 2010

ahhh read fast!!

A friend sent me this request and unfortunately I didn't get it until now. So hurry, read, then run outside before the mailman gets to your door.

From Dana:
My platform is about ending hunger, and this Saturday nation wide there is going to be the 18th annual "Stamp Out Hunger" food drive. All people have to do is leave a bag of non-perishable food next to their mailbox and their mailman will pick it up. Last year they were able to collect 73.4 million pounds of food and this year their goal is 75 million pounds. The food is given to food pantries across the US.

Fast! Grab the creamed corn and couscous from your pantry and run it outside to the mailbox!

Don't Ask, Don't Tell

Big fan of Obama here. However, it's time to hold him to a promise.

Last year, my final on-stage question at Miss New York involved how President Obama could repair his relationship with the LGBT community. At that point, 10 months ago, I didn't feel as though he had too much to repair. However, he definitely has some things to work with now. We are handing him an opportunity with the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and this could be a major tipping point in his support from LGBT people and their allies.

President Obama's State of the Union address in January
"We find unity in our incredible diversity, drawing on the promise enshrined in our Constitution: the notion that we are all created equal, that no matter who you are or what you look like, if you abide by the law you should be protected by it..."

"This year, I will work with Congress and our military to finally repeal the law that denies gay Americans the right to serve the country they love because of who they are. It's the right thing to do."
Defense Secretary, Robert Gates, with orders from the Commander and Chief, has announced that more research needs to be done on the effect that the repeal will bring before moving forward in ending "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"

Yes, there is research to be done, because of utmost importance is the safety of every member of our military. However, a recent ABC News/Washington Post poll showed us that 75% support of Americans believe that gays and lesbians should be able to serve openly in the military. If you're willing to die for our country, you should have the freedom to - confidently and openly as YOURSELF.

So what now? Obama MUST stand to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" even if the implementation timeline is delayed based on the necessary "research" that must be done. Sign this petition with the Courage Campaign to President Obama, to guide him in the right direction:

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Straight for Equality 2010 Gala

You read about the bomb scare in Times Square, right? Well it looks like I got lucky. Keelie, Cassie and I did our photoshoot together with Bianca Thomas down on the water by the Brooklyn Bridge and then headed up to Times Square for part two of our photoshoot. (That post will come separately when I have time to actually edit the pics!) We wrapped up at about 5:15 after which I headed straight into the Marriot Marquis for the PFLAG National Straight for Equality Gala. My handsome date Matt showed up in his bow tie promptly at 6:00. So we were right there in the action the entire time with no idea what was happening!

Although interesting and dramatic, let's move on to the point of this blog: the Straight for Equality Gala. Straight for Equality is more than just the name of my platform; it is a daughter organization of PFLAG National that focuses on straight ally support specifically for equality in the workplace. I attended with the board of PFLAG NYC accompanied by my roommate Matt. Hosted by Caroline Rhea (Sabrina the Teenage Witch anyone? Yeah, I watched it.), the night was filled with great stories and presentations to/by the honorees: Straight for Equality in Business - Sodexo, SfE in Sports - Scott Fujita, and the crowd favorite, SfE in Entertainment - Liza Minnelli. For most, being in the same room as Liza was the highlight, and it was glorious, especially when she started impromptu singing. However, the words that resonated with me were from Scott Fujita, NFL player for the Superbowl's New Orleans Saints. When asked why he is so vocal about his support for gay rights he said that in 5 years when he retires, no one will care about his opinion or what he says. But NOW, he has a platform to speak his mind and have people at least hear if not listen to him and he is taking full advantage of this opportunity. Dear Scott, stop copying my platform essay. And then marry me; just an aside. As an adopted person himself, he has a huge passion for adoption right for gay couples. He said, if you have a problem with gay rights then call it human rights, or equal rights - because that's what they truly are. Couldn't have said it better myself.

And for those who wanted to see the legend, herself... She really does make a point: It just seemed so much like the right thing to do.

As the evening came to a close, I was able to meet Caroline Rhea who told Matt he was adorable and me that I was beautiful and it is so neat to hear that I'm supporting this issue through the Miss America Organization. Jody Huckaby, executive director of PFLAG National, was a pleasure to meet on Teri Galvez' referral and I look forward to working with him as I take my platform to a national level beyond New York.


Monday, May 3, 2010


Here is a teaser from our photoshoot with Bianca Thomas!


I feel like every time I leave a school I say, THAT was the coolest experience I’ve had at a school. How can that be? You have to remember that although you are telling the same story over and over, or a variation of it, it is still someone’s first time hearing your story. That influence and fresh response is what motivates me to keep speaking and sharing my story.

Friday at Accion Academy in the Bronx, I spoke to a group of 80 6th-8th-grade girls in the Women’s Leadership Club. It’s a large group to keep quiet, attentive and engaged, but they were amazing. When we walked in and introduced ourselves, they clapped. When Raymund stood up and said, I’m a gay man, they clapped. I think they may have clapped as much as the audience did during Obama’s inaugural speech. I told my story a little differently to relate more directly to their ages and at the end set out a challenge on the table. This is a class of leaders, right? So use your voice to stand up for something. [I talked about using my voice in the Miss America Organization to stand for something unexpected.] Whether it’s about being gay or supportive of gay rights, being a woman, African American or Latina, be PROUD of who you are and what you believe, and use your platform of leadership to speak clearly about those issues.

We always open up for questions, stories and sharing at the end of a presentation – sometimes it’s a flop, other times we get incredible stories. Ummm, B. The first young woman to stand up, state her name and speak, came out of the closet for the first time. In tears, she said I think I may be gay, but at home all I hear is my mom talking about how disgusting and wrong it is for other people, so I could never talk to her about it. I don’t have anyone to turn to or talk to about that, especially not even my own mother. Again, the audience erupted clapping. What confidence!? In response, I thanked her for the confidence and self-love and respect it took to stand up and say that, and I said Look around? THESE are the people who you have. Your friend from the row in front of you reached back and held your hand the minute you started speaking. The Vice Principal and Guidance Counselor raised their hands and said, Here we are! I’m a mother; I’m a mother day in and day out, to my own kids and to every one of these kids at this school! She can talk to me! Incredible. Similar stories continued, girls speaking about themselves, their friends, and even the guidance counselor sharing her story about her lesbian mother.

Schools provide a much needed safe-haven that too many of today’s youth lack. These are the teachers and counselors who are raising our children. And these 80 girls are the current leaders of their school, and thankfully the future leaders of our communities.