TEXARKANA, Texas -- At the beginning of September, Johnny Thompson JR participated in his first Miss Gay Texas State pageant in Fort Worth, far exceeding his hopes for the competition.
"I was living the best life I could have ever," Thompson said. "I almost got the award for 'Best Gown Overall,' but I got beat by one point."
Thompson attended the competition as his drag persona Aquarius Deveareaux Brooks and placed fourth for the overall competition, with queen Veronica Reyes becoming the newly crowned Miss Gay Texas State At Large.
"I was nervous as all get out," Thompson said of his first night at the pageant. "I felt like my heart was smashing into my stomach. But overall I felt beautiful. That was my first time ever looking so stunning like that. Once I got onstage, everything went away. Everything!"
Thompson credited his friend The Lady Brooks for helping him feel so photogenic by styling his Marie Antoinette outfit for the presentation portion of the competition.
"I came out looking like the Queen of Hearts," Thompson said. "We performed the Madonna 'Vengeance' MTV awards performance. It was good. My microphone went out, but I still kept singing."
For the talent portion of the competition, Thompson sang Etta James' "All I Could Do Was Cry," which is a vibrant tune with piano about losing a lover on their wedding day.
Thompson said he learned lessons of timeliness, made several new friends during the weekend of pageantry and even was told by judges that he should come back the following year.
"They told me not to change anything," Thompson said. "They wanted me to come back the next year, and I told them I will."
Thompson said that his demeanor of calmness and genuine nature appealed to the judges, who "broke character" and couldn't help smiling when meeting him. He plans on working hard over the next year to fundraise and keep performing to prepare for next year's pageant.
"I met the reigning queen (Reyes). We met, and we just fell in love with each other," Thompson said. "We're good friends, and she's going to be an awesome queen."
Thompson said he also had an abundance of support from his best friend, Carmella Riata Dubuque, who was the Miss Gay Texas State past reigning winner.
Thompson plans to bring some new friends back from the competition to Texarkana to showcase their drag performance skills in upcoming months.