Hailing from Alabama, The Prancing Elites are stars of the reality television series, The Prancing Elites Project, and despite the show’s glittery veneer there’s a very real and political gender battle being waged. The term reality TV’ typically suggests a cast of caddy characters each trying to outdo the other for witty comebacks and mean spirited attacks, but with this show it’s actually the general public who is the bug meanie.

As individuals, The Prancing Elites are each gender-nonconforming, yet to the general public they are largely treated as five biological men which gets them excluded from performing in most parades, competitions and other public exhibitions. This year The Prancing Elites were selected by Pride Toronto as our cities International Honoured Guests, and so I interviewed them about Pride, gender non-compliance and mentoring the next generation of queers.

Kentrell Collins: I feel as though the LGBT community needs to focus on not tearing one another down based on their preferences. For example; we talk about how we want equal rights and to be treated fairly, but we post things such as ‘no fats/fems.’ Or how ‘gays’ on television can be viewed as a bad representation, because they are feminine, when in actuality the ‘feminine gays’ are whose gotten us our rights today (See: Paris is Burning).

Jerel Maddox: This year alone so many influential trans and non-gender conforming people are showing us that it’s okay to be yourself. The perceptions that I’m noticing are changing for the good, it’s a slow shift but at least there’s change.

Kareem Davis: I have noticed a shift even with my own family… [they don’t assume gender] now they’ll ask how a person how they want to be addressed.

Timothy Smith: All that matters is loving yourself.

Adrian Clemons (Team Captain): We should make at least one day out of every month a holiday for gender non-conforming individuals like myself. Call it Gender Non-Conforming Day (GNC), and for GNC there would be rallies all over the globe, and we could have celebrity guest speakers like The Prancing Elites, Laverne Cox, RuPaul, and Beyoncé.

Catch The Prancing Elites in this year’s Pride parade and as a part of the infamous Black is BACK: Blockorama. A huge disco thank-you to Victoria Schwarz at Pride Toronto for all of your assistance.

The Prancing Elites: Gender Mentors is part one of three in our exclusive interview with The Prancing Elites, part of theBUZZ‘s Pride Toronto coverage. Photos courtesy of Oxygen Media.

Next week The Prancing Elites: Mentoring the Mentors plus the inside scoop on where find The Prancing Elites this Pride, on and off-duty.

‘More Fats More Fems’ tshirts available at Glad Day Bookshop.

About the Author

Raymond Helkio is an author, director filmmaker, and graduate of Ontario College of Art & Design. He currently lives in both Toronto and New York. His most recent play, LEDUC, is now available in paperback. www.raymondhelkio.com