Dallas Voice (Dallas, Tex.), Vol. 28, No. 17, Ed. 1 Friday, September 9, 2011 Page: 14 of 48
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From Page 13
With the United Court standing behind him,
Gray said, he continued to improve.
"That third year, I placed 13th, much better
than the first two years," Gray said. "These pag-
eants, they get in your blood. You want to win.
But mainly, I wanted to prove that the charity girls
were just as good as the pageant girls. I had to
prove that I was equal, and that if I was equal, so
was everybody else."
But while Gray was proving himself to the pag-
eant girls, he said he was also learning how to im-
"After I started entering the Miss Gay Texas
pageants, I started becoming a better performer. I
grew as a performer," he said.
In 1995, Gray entered the Miss Gay America
pageant for the first time — and he was named
first runner-up, placing just behind the winner,
Just a few months later, however, Leger passed
away, and Patti Le Plae Safe became Miss Gay
"She only got to attend one pageant" after her
win, Gray said of Legere,"and then I finished out
the rest of the year as the Meholder. But I knew it
would have been really unfair for me to take that
crown, throw it up on my head and pretend that
I won it out right, that Ramona had never been
there. She had wanted to be Miss Gay America so
So as Patti traveled the country that year as
Miss Gay America, attending pageants and events
from coast to coast, she always took Ramona's
crown with her, carrying it on a pillow to repre-
sent the man who had won the title but did not
live to enjoy it.
"I didn't want people to forget Ramona. I
didn't want her to be erased" like a previous title-
holder from the 1970s, Shan Covington, who had
her title removed because the pageant owner did-
n't like the way Shan had seemingly disrespected
the crown during a parade appearance.
"When I was entering Miss Gay America, I did-
n't even know Shan Covington. But he came up
to me and said he wanted to help. He helped me
prepare for the interview. And I didn't even know
he had been a Miss Gay America!" Gray said.
"I didn't want people to forget that anymore. I
didn't want people to forget Ramona. I know that
I wouldn't be where I am today without the help
of so, many people; none of us would be. We're a
big village here, and I want people to remember
Home for the Holidays
While Gray may be best known for his onstage
performances as Patti, he has always done more
than just perform. Back in the late 1980s/early
1990s — "I'm not sure of the date anymore" — he
also "adopted" an apartment at AIDS Services of
Dallas' Revlon House, helping decorate and fur-
nish it for a resident with HIV.
Because of Gray's bold choice of bright pink
walls and accessories, the apartment became well
known around town as "the Bubblegum Apart-
Through that effort, Gray learned of the many
AIDS patients who had relocated to North Texas:
before becoming ill and who no longer had the
means to get back home to be with family,
So Gray and John Gordon, his best friend at the
time, established Home for the Holidays, an or-
ganization whose sole purpose was to raise
money, through events like the Miss Charity
America pageant established in 1992, to send
those people home.
In those early days, David Taffet — then co-
owner of Travel Source travel agency and now a
staff writer for Dallas Voice — helped out by ar-
ranging the lowest fares possible and getting the
tickets, Gray said.
Recently, Gray appeared on Lambda Weekly
the LGBT radio program Taffet also co-hosts on
KNON 89.3 FM — to talk about Home for the
Holidays' current projects. A woman Gray called
"Miss Lucy" called in that day to thank Gray and
Home for the Holidays for the time the organiza-
tion paid for her to go home to see her family.
"Miss Lucy said she had actually lived in the
Bubblegum Apartment, and she said that she had
never known who to thank for that trip home,"
Gray said, adding that Miss Lucy was one of the
rare beneficiaries of the program's early days who
returned to Dallas, began a new regimen of med-
ications and saw her health improve.
"For most of them, that trip was a one-way
ticket. They weren't coming back; they were going
home to spend their last days with their families.
So we never had a lot of people who were able to
come to us afterward and say thanks," Gray said.
"So it was really nice to hear from Miss Lucy."
For several years, Gray said, Home for the Hol-
idays went through some hard times. The board
of directors dwindled to just five members, and
fundraisers weren't bringing in as much money
as they had before. Often, he said, when a client
asked for help, one of the board members would
use his personal credit card to buy the plane tick-
ets, and then wait til the coffers were a little more
filled to be reimbursed.
"But we never turned anyone away," Gray
Then last year, for the first time, Home for the
Holiday# was chosen as a Black Tie Dinner bene-
ficiary. The $24,000-plus the organization received
allowed the board to plan and stage bigger and
better events — like the recent hand-painted un-
derwear auction and an art auction — that
brought in many times more the amount of
money that previous, smaller events had raised.
The board has also grown, with 10 members.
And Gray said that while the organization has to
change with the times, "We're not going away,"
A new career — arid beyond
Just before Patti earned the Miss Gay America
crown, Gray said, the insurance company he
worked for decided to move its office and relocate
its employees to Indianapolis.
"I raised my hand and said, 'Does it snow
there?' When they said yes, I said I would just take
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14 dallasvoice.com ■ 09.09.11
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Nash, Tammye. Dallas Voice (Dallas, Tex.), Vol. 28, No. 17, Ed. 1 Friday, September 9, 2011, newspaper, September 9, 2011; Dallas, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth239184/m1/14/: accessed December 11, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Special Collections.