Tuesday, August 7, 2018

It’s that time of year

By Starla Renee Trimm

Ahhh… autumn in the Deep South.

In a few weeks, the oppressive heat and humidity will begin to wane, the mountainsides will come alive with spectacular colors, the SEC will begin to once again dominate college football and the kids will return to school. And where gays, atheists and Muslims are still soundly reviled, where they would rather let trans students pee in their pants than use the appropriate bathroom, where city council and school board meetings still begin with prayers “in Jesus’ name,” where your “right” to buy an AR-15 without the guv’mint intefering is soundly defended, where schools, streets and parks are named not after Washington, Jefferson and Lincoln, but for Lee, Jackson and Davis... yes, where grits are considered a vegetable and animal flesh is thoroughly deep fried to make sure the critter’s dead before it’s eaten... in the land of hypocrisy writ large, Gun ownin’, Bible totin’ real men and genteel women will gleefully and enthusiastically put their ‘tween and teen boys in full, beautiful feminine drag and parade them down a makeshift catwalk in a gymnasium for their school’s womanless beauty pageant with nary a trace of irony, lavishing as much time, prepartion and mascara on them as they do when their sisters run for Rattlesnake Roundup Queen or vie to be crowned Miss Mule Days. (Um, no kidding, those really are things.)

Sarcasm aside, it’s that time of year and what follows are links to galleries of some of the best school womanless events currently available online. Some schools pretty reliably hold a pageant every year like clockwork; others more sporadically so and some are “one-hit wonders” that inexplicably pulled out all the stops for an elaborate pageant one year, while never doing it again.

These are full galleries (and a few videos), some posted by schools, others by parents, teachers or other sources. It is not by any means exhaustive and there are many equally good pageants to which only a single photo or two or three scattered around the Web bear witness or for which the original source galleries have vanished over the years.

Many of the photos in these galleries have been spread around and you may well have seen most of them. But this is a chance for you to see them in context as originally posted with whatever comments were appended to give you a taste of some of the “Best of the Best” school womanless pageants in Dixie.

Will the more consistent schools grace us with another excellent event this year? Will some of the “one and done” schools revive the idea? Or will some school rise out of obscurity to begin a new pageant tradition? We shall see. Meanwhile, be inspired, amused, appalled or whatever by these shining examples of the schizoid Southern culture!

Alexander City Middle School (AL)
2015 pageant (personal gallery)
Beaver Elementary Schoolgurls
Beaver Elementary Schoolgurls

Beaver Elementary School (Wildersville, TN)
2014 pageant (personal gallery, manually click/swipe to scan through)

Central Elementary/Middle School (Dubberly, LA)
2016 pageant (personal video of opening number)
2016 pageant (personal video of introductions)
2016 pageant (personal gallery, largely focusing on the poster’s own son):
2017 pageant (personal video of opening number)


Kudos to this school. The womanless pageant is one of its many annual projects to benefit St. Jude and they raise more money than almost any other group in the state. The year I saw documented, they raised $31,000 which is pretty damn good for a not terribly large school in a mostly rural area! Yes, I make fun of Southerners, but give credit where credit’s due.

E.O. Coffman Middle School (Lawrenceburg, TN)
2015 pageant (school gallery)

Ernest Ward Middle School (Walnut Hill, FL)
Ernest Ward Middle Schoolgurls
Ernest Ward Middle Schoolgurls
2010 pageant (newspaper gallery)
2013 pageant (newspaper gallery)
2014 pageant (newspaper gallery)
2018 pageant (newspaper gallery)
2018 pageant (personal gallery)

Gordo High School (AL)
2013 pageant (personal gallery)
2015 pageant (personal gallery)
2018 pageant (personal gallery)

Haralson County Middle School (Tallapoosa, GA)
2017 pageant (personal gallery)
2018 pageant (school gallery)
2018 pageant (personal gallery)

May be an up-and-coming “sleeper” that will get better in time. Right now mostly “so-so” femulations and way too much of the huge, unrealistic balloon boobs sort of thing, but they’re getting an impressive number of boys participating, who seem enthusiastic (which can’t be said for the audience which seems bored out of its gourd at times).

Honaker Elementary/Middle Schoolgurl
Honaker Elementary/Middle School (VA)
2013 pageant (personal gallery)

Potts Camp Middle School (MS)
2018 pageant (teacher’s personal gallery)

Rehobeth Middle School (AL)
2017 and 2018 pageants (school club gallery; manually click/swipe to scan through)
2018 pageant (personal gallery; manually click/swipe to scan through)

Thomasville Middle School (AL)
2013 pageant (winners only)
2014 pageant (school gallery)
2015 pageant (school gallery)
2015 pageant (personal gallery)
2016 pageant (school gallery)

Wilson Hall Middle Schoolgurl
Wilson Hall Middle Schoolgurl
Wilson Hall Middle School (AL)
2015 pageant (professional photographer gallery, 400+ photos!)

Not many schools can afford to engage a professional photographer to document their womanless pageants, however, in this case, the photographer is also the mother of one of the contestants – the gurl in the red dress and headband – so I assume they got these for cost or maybe even for nothin’!

Finally, not a beauty pageant and not in the Deep South by any means, but I have to mention the YouTube videos from the annual talent shows held at Rachel Carson Elementary School in Gaithersburg, Maryland. For several years running, it seemed to be a tradition that some of the graduating 5th grade boys would put on a dance number dressed as girls. However, I can’t document any such act in the last 5 or 6 years, nor prior to 2009. My guess is that it was a specific group of parents that spearheaded and organized these things and when their kids aged out and moved on, the annual drag numbers ceased. But you never know – one of these years, someone associated with the school may see these videos and think, “Hey, what a fun idea!” and revive the tradition. In any case, here are three of the annual events.

Rachel Carson Elementary School (Gaithersburg, Maryland)
2009 (“All the Single Ladies," includes some fun “behind the scenes” footage)
2010 (“Life’s About to Get Good”)
2011 (“Pretty Girls Rock”)




Wearing Jovani
Wearing Jovani




Bill Kaulitz
Bill Kaulitz

12 comments:

  1. Thanks Stana and well said. Outside deep south USA there are places that share similar attitudes but thankfully per rest of USA these places are tolerant these days too. Gonna take time to click through all the photos. I went to an all boys school outside USA. Pre-teen boys were chosen to act the female characters in our anual plays. Unfortunately, I’ve no pictures of my time and can’t find any on Google either. Same experience though, in that the mothers took great care to ensure the gurls looked their best and both enjoyed it.

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  2. Dont forget the 'Womanless Weddings' BTW father-in-law was a 'bride' held in a METHODIST Church in PODUNK county NC
    here is link https://www.npr.org/sections/npr-history-dept/2015/06/16/413633022/when-womanless-weddings-were-trendy

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  3. Femulating gone Wrong.. https://www.npr.org/sections/npr-history-dept/2015/12/28/460940892/rediscovering-mr-and-mrs-henpeck

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  4. I rember back in 1974, my senior year. As part of a school talent show at the local vocational school the boys in auto mechanics, and the girls in cosmetology class collaborated on a "beauty pageant" for the talent show and the girls were graded on how well they transformed us into gurls! That was my 1st professional make over!

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    1. I'd love to hear that story. And why the hell didn't they do that at my school?

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    2. Did any photos of that make it into the yearbook? Because classmates.com has umpteen thousand yearbooks online, and yours from that year might just be there!

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  5. It is still interesting to know what happens to the school and local community after event. Does it allow for a better respect and recognition of women? Is there a greater understanding and tolerance for the LGBT community? Do any of the participants have a moment of awakening? Is this moment in the spotlight continued to be celebrated or does it become a source of embarrassment/ridicule?

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    1. To answer your questions: respectively No, no, possibly, depends on the participant. I think that last question, though, in the cultural context, is more often A than B. Oh, sure, I'm certain a reasonable amount of good-natured teasing can ensue, but these pageants are very ingrained in the culture, and most folks view their participation, and that of their kids relatively positively, or at least benignly. Parents who have a son who wins or places highly in a pageant will often speak of how proud they are.

      I do know that when a naysayer badmouths the whole concept, whether on religious grounds or whatever, the people associated with these events rise to defend them. If you look at the comments on this year's WBP at Ernest Ward Middle School, someone really stirred up a hornet's nest, and the parents, etc. defended it pretty vociferously.

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  6. Here is a link to sociological info on womanless weddings held in NC. Part of the NC STATE archives. This article leans into my feeling that this performance is some sort of PROXY crossdressing ritual for men who would like to, but feel forbidden to explore the state of the 'other sex'.
    https://soh.omeka.chass.ncsu.edu/exhibits/show/gwdsocial/play/play-gender

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    1. Sure, I can see this, at least at the adult level of WBPs in the South, but I'm not sure it would apply to the kids. May be an "apples and oranges" kind of thing.

      Funny thing about the South...when you scratch the surface, there's a lot more tacit tolerance of gay/trans people than you would think. It's one thing to be gay or trans discreetly - they just don't want people publicly acknowledging it or expressing it openly. That would upset the carefully crafted social order, and we can't have that.

      Cases in point...I used to be a very active trumpet player and did a lot of church gigs back in the day. And I will tell you for a fact that many male church organists in the South are gay - I know, I met quite a few and got to know some of them. And generally, deep down inside, the churches involved, both the clergy and the laity, are well aware of it, but simply do not speak of it openly. The relationship of the organist and his lover/partner will be couched in the moldy old self-deceptive cliches: his partner is introduced to others as "my roommate," the men are referred to as "committed bachelors" who just haven't met the right girl yet, etc. Likewise, quite a few Gospel music performers are gay, and known to be so, especially in the African- American churches, but nevertheless are accepted as long as they remain on the down low. The Gospel and Christian music performers who have been condemned for being gay are those few that dared to come out publicly. It's OK to be gay; just don't SAY that you are gay. (It's like "Don't ask, don't tell" for civilians...)

      Another example...Jim Nabors, best known for his classic portrayal of Gomer Pyle, passed away recently. Nabors had been known for DECADES to be gay (he'd been living with a male partner since 1975), not just among his Hollywood friends, but among the people of his old stomping ground around Sylacauga, Alabama. But they loved and embraced him and celebrated their local celebrity because he never publicly acknowledged his sexuality, at least not until his last few years, when he quietly but as a matter of public record married his lover when gay marriage was legalized in Hawaii (where Nabors had lived much of his post-Gomer life).

      So, I can see where adult WBPs can be a sort of "safety valve" to allow men who are so inclined to have a little fling where they can dress as femininely as they please for a night once a year, treating the whole thing publicly as a joke, and emphasizing how they're doing this for charity. That, plus monthly motel meetings of more secretive CD groups like Tri-Ess, give these men an occasional way to take some of the edge off their crossdressing desires and get it out of their system for awhile, while maintaining the public order. But if you openly prance around Cairo, Georgia or Franklin, North Carolina or Tupelo, Mississippi in a dress and heels (unless you "pass" really, really well, and are unrecognizable en femme) or in any way publicly admit to the practice of crossdressing or, even worse, start to think that you may be a woman inside who needs to live openly as such...ah, now we have a problem.

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  7. Theres a book about the history of the, KKK, which notes in years past <1970?, the old style Klan robes were made out of, satin. Where as now, they are made from, muslin. I think that they have all this excess satin lying around,and are just trying to use it up.

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  8. I lived in Arkansas from the middle of the 2nd grade thru high school, but I do not remember that there any of these womanless pageants in my town at that time. I would have loved to dress up as a girl including panties, bra, heels, gown and makeup and competed in one of these contests -- it would have been so much fun! I remember having some fantasies about dressing as a girl at that time, but did not act on those fantasies. Now that I am much older, I enjoy dressing up as a woman as often as I can, but most of the time it is in private.

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