Lady Shug reflects on Miss NM Pride 2016 reign

Noel Lyn Smith

FARMINGTON – Since winning the Miss New Mexico Pride 2016 title last November, local resident and drag queen Lady Shug has been busy inspiring and supporting the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning communities across the state.

During her reign as Miss New Mexico Pride 2016, Lady Shug says she has tried to build a bridge between Albuquerque's LGBT community and similar communities in towns throughout the state.

Although Shug's reign ends on Dec. 31, she was on hand to crown Miss New Mexico Pride 2017 during the New Mexico Pride Pageant on Nov. 18 in Albuquerque.

She was in Albuquerque when The Daily Times reached her by telephone to talk about her reign and her future on Wednesday. The following interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Q: How do you feel about your year as Miss New Mexico Pride and what were some of your responsibilities in carrying the title?

A: I tried to build a bridge among Albuquerque Pride and the small communities. In my travel for the year, I went to places like Gallup, Silver City — where they held their first gay pride — Las Cruces, El Paso, Grand Junction, Durango and Phoenix. …I wanted to support them, to let them know that New Mexico is here. They were very happy I showed up and supported them because they thought it was an accomplishment to have Miss New Mexico Pride there.

Q: In working to achieve your goal of bridging the gap between large and small communities, what was the reaction from the large communities? Was there interest by those communities in getting involved?

Lady Shug performs at the New Mexico Pride Pageant on Nov. 18 at the African American Performing Arts Center and Exhibition Hall in Albuquerque.

 A: To be honest, it was difficult because it's not going to happen overnight, and it can't take one person to do it. …In Farmington, we have Identity Inc., and they have been good support, as well as the Durango area. …As far as bigger communities, like Albuquerque, I told them that they need to reach out. …My year has been hectic. It went by so fast. I feel like I need one more year to get other stuff accomplished.

Q: Have you always addressed responsibilities with full attention?

A: You have to. It's like show business. You can't lose momentum.

Q: This year had the mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla. As Miss New Mexico Pride, how did you help address the emotions felt by the shooting?

A: I had to lift a lot of spirits. I had to give people comfort and keep my mind off of it. I tried to talk to people, hug people. …It was one of the toughest ones to deal with because I know other entertainers that live in Orlando that were affected by it.

Q: You mentioned your title made you grow closer to the Native American community. How do you feel about that?

A: As I mentioned, when I first came into the scene, I was never embraced by my native community, and I don't know why. I never felt that whole support. … With me being crowned and supporting different native causes and going to these events, I think I changed their hearts. I think by having this title, it made me realize that I'm proud to be Native American, as well.

Lady Shug smiles after winning the title of Miss New Mexico Pride 2016 on Nov. 20, 2015. The pageant was held at the African American Performing Arts Center and Exhibition Hall in Albuquerque.

Q: The New Mexico Pride Pageant happened on Nov. 18 and Nov. 19. Do you remember how it felt to be on stage and competing a year ago?

A: When I was competing last year, I kind of had a lot stacked against me because I was dealing with a cold …then the person that was going to do my hair and makeup don't show up. …I think at that moment I was trying to get through it. …So when they announced my name, I was in shock.

Q: Did you give advice to Miss New Mexico Pride 2017?

A: I haven't talked to the one that I crowned, but I do have a close relationship with Mr. New Mexico Pride 2017 (Armani Daniels). He actually came down to Farmington and did my victory show last year. He was talking to me about returning to Farmington to do a show. I told him that I would help him out. …We haven't picked a date yet, but it's in the works.

Q: What's the next step? Do you have plans to compete in other pageants?

A: I’ll probably take a few months to recuperate. …I'm trying to fix up the house that me and my mom just got. I might do another pageant, but who knows?

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636.