Awards and Accolades for a PRIDE-ful Entertainer
By Dale Madison
Déjà Devonier is one of those high energy individuals who can keep everyone on their feet and clapping when she is on stage. Déjà won the “Miss Stonewall” competition, which was held on June 17 at Bill’s Filling Station in Wilton Manors, to celebrate the Stonewall Summer Pride and Twilight Parade.
Déjà isn’t shy about her reasons for getting into the entertainment business. “It was a twofold process,” she recalls. “First, it’s a true inspiration to get people into the show when you’re on stage.” She paused, before adding with a laugh, “And to be totally frank, the money.”
“Miss Stonewall was especially important to me for this celebration,” she says. “As you know, the police in New York for so long hassled the gay community, and then that fateful June night in 1969, the ‘sisters’ had enough. They held the police at bay for nearly 24 hours, and the police finally relented, and thus began what we now know as the Gay Rights Movement. They paved the way for us, and provided a forum for us to not live in fear for our lives, and our lifestyle.”
The entertainer had a firm strategy in mind for how she was going to win the Miss Stonewall gold. “I started out with a rainbow bathing suit, which I thought was appropriate considering it was PRIDE.
The suit was designed by the one and only Erika Norell. I decided early on that I was in this to win it. For my entertainment, I did the song ‘Fly’ by Rihanna and Nicki Minaj, and the crowd went wild.”
“My gown competition was sponsored by Torpedo Bar, where on Sunday it’s known as ‘Déjà Jams,’ and I serve as the host. The gown was a sweetheart cut designed by Sherri Hill, and was black and silver. For talent, I did Tina Turner’s ‘Fool in Love’ and, of course, ‘Proud Mary.’ She was a great inspiration to me growing up. I used to work in a small club, and started out doing ‘What’s Love Got to Do With It?’”
The entertainer has plans for her reigning year as Miss Stonewall. “I plan to promote awareness for the transgender community, and the illuswionist/ entertainment community. There are lots of people out there promoting the male gay community, but not so much with the ‘Tran’ community.” That doesn’t mean she’s forgotten her boy “sisters.” “I’ll be passing out condoms among gay men, as I am a member of this community, and I want to be out there doing everything that I can. I also want to represent South Florida at events at other cities around the state, and to show what we offer here in Greater Fort Lauderdale and Wilton Manors,” she adds.
As for Miss Stonewall’s other plans for her crown, and her next twelve months, “I also want to work on organizing next year’s pageant, as this is a very prestigious title. Many people don’t know that I am a competitive swimmer, and I want to qualify to the next Gay Olympics.” She is philosophical about herself and about the future. “The choices we make, shall dictate the life we shall live.”
Like the 1969 LGBT rights pioneers who have inspired her, the reigning Queen of the Gayborhood’s Stonewall knows there are challenges to come, both for herself and the LGBT community at large, but, in this too, she is philosophical. “It’s not what you go through,” she notes, “it’s how you come out of it.