The Miss Gay America pageant (MGA) was founded in 1972. Their motto is “Be Excellent,” and now Miss Gay America is helping queer youth be excellent, too. MGA co-owners Michael Dutzer and Rob Mansman have just launched the MGA Excellence Foundation, a new charitable organization that will mentor LGBTQ youth and work with youth centers.
“Most of the people in the Miss Gay America organization can relate to growing up being bullied or being different. We’ve all faced rejection and struggled to find ourselves,” says Dutzer.
As we tour the country for nearly two-dozen preliminary state and regional pageants throughout the year, we want to reach out and offer support to youth centers in areas we visit in any way we can–from donations, to fundraising to motivational personal appearances by our titleholders. Eventually we would like to raise enough money to issue grants to youth organizations and provide scholarships.
Charitable work isn’t new to Miss Gay America. When Jerry Peek founded MGA in 1973, the pageant raised money for the March of Dimes charity for reducing infant mortality and newborns facing medical issues. Unfortunately, when it came time to make the donation, the March of Dimes refused the money. Peek said, “They did not want to be associated with a group like MGA.”
While the March of Dimes may have missed out back in ’73, that hasn’t stopped MGA. Norman Jones, who owned MGA from 1975 to 2005 said that each pageant would have a different cause — including HIV charities, helping children with HIV and local food banks.
Jones added, “Myself, I donate all income from the sale of my book to charity of the purchasers choosing.”
Many MGA winners have also taken it upon themselves to raise money for charity. Miss Gay America 2018, Deva Station, was even recognized by the mayor of Columbus, Ohio for her fundraising efforts. Station’s charity of choice is Camp Sunrise, an Ohio camp for kids infected with or affected by HIV.