The Diva Delight Miss Venus Knight is all the rage in the drag scene lately, scooping up titles left and right. "I stepped out into the world of drag without fully knowing what was ahead and without expectations," Knight told O&AN’s Nashville Untucked. Who knew her journey would lead her to become Miss Gay Nashville America 2013, Miss Gay Tennessee America 2013, and Miss Tennessee Continental 2013?
“Becoming Miss Gay Nashville and Tennessee America was a dream I have been dreaming for a while and have now accomplished,” said Knight. “The day I became a Miss Gay Nashville and Tennessee America was a day of celebration—a day to celebrate all the hard work that has gotten me to the place where I am today. Every day is a day of thanks—a day to thank all the family, friends, and fans who has helped and supported me to get me to where I am today.”
Outside of drag, Venus has captured many other titles. She is the first member of her family to graduate from college. She has a double minor in Family Studies and American Sign Language and a Major in Social Work and a Masters in Social Work and she plans to further her education with a Doctorate in Marriage and Family therapy.
You think you know, but you have no idea. Check out this month’s Nashville Untucked with our Q&A with Miss Venus Knight.
When did drag begin for you?
The first time I dressed up was for a 2008 Pride show in Bowling Green, Kentucky. I dressed up to be a goofball never knowing anything could ever come from it. At the show I was watching the other performers and the person in charge of the show pointed to me in the crown and mouthed, “You need to be up there.” I looked around to see if he was talking to someone else. So he repeated and this time I laughed and said no I could never do that. Within a week or two, I received a call asking me to perform. I finally said yes. Venus Knight was born on July 5, 2008 at 10:18 p.m.. After being on the stage for the first time I knew this was going to be something new and exciting! I never knew it would lead me to where I am today!
How old were you when you realized you were gay?
Who said I was gay? It is never good to assume (laughs). I really don’t believe in labels. I am more attracted to guys, but if the right person comes along and steals my heart that is who I will be with. I knew my brother and I were different when I was 3 years old. At that age though, I didn’t know what that could mean… just knew we were very different.
Have you ever experienced prejudice for being attracted to boys?
Yes! I hate to say it, but I have. Although, I don’t believe I have experienced prejudice because of just my sexuality. I am a bi-racial male who also is a female impersonator. I believe that puts a lot of negative views on me. Sadly, I have experienced difficulties with some members of my family.
Who has been a big inspiration to you in your life? Who has been the biggest inspiration to you in your drag career?
There are many people who have inspired me in so many ways. Even though my mom and I don’t get along all the time, she has helped mold me into the person I am today. My grandmother, Nakita Riggsbee, is really my rock. Also, Tony King, the best boyfriend I’ve ever had. He has shown me a love that only seems to exist in movies.
There are many people who have not only inspired Venus but also myself for my career as a female impersonator. Ivy White has been a huge help and role model for me. I really look up to her in more ways than she will ever know. Kara Bell has helped me when others were not able or willing and always follows through on her word. Oscar gave me the opportunity to start performing at PLAY Dance Bar. Joey Brown for getting to know me on a different level than just business and help me grow within his business. There are many others who I have come in contact with that have helped me grow as a performer even some who may not even be close to me.
How would you describe your drag persona? Does your actual personality differ from your stage character?
I am a very independent person. I do a lot of things on my own because I have trust issues with others. Over time, people have told me they want to help or will do something and never follow through with it. So, growing up I have just always done for myself. My mother says that I had an independent personally as a child. As most people already know, I don’t drink or smoke or do drugs. I have never even had a soda before in my life. I mainly only drink water. I am a person who always tries to give 110% on and off stage.
My actual personality is pretty different. I really do not like going to clubs. I enjoy being home reading, enjoying time with family and close friends.
Being a "pageant queen" what would you say drives your interests to the pageant scene? How many titles have you won in your career? Which one holds more value to you?
I am a person huge on learning; I enjoy learning about different systems. I am more driven because just like my guy persona, I do not want Venus to be limited. I have a Masters in social work and considering getting my Ph.D in Marriage and Family Therapy. Like I said, I don’t want to be limited. I want as many options and opportunities as possible.
As for Venus, I feel like she is also working on her Masters. She is a city and state title-holder, but no nationals …yet. I am not sure how many titles I have won for sure but I believe 5-7 (laughs). But all of them hold the same value to me. Each one is a symbol of my hard work and dedication.
What was it like to win Miss TN Gay America and compete in MGA 2013? What have you learned from your experience?
It was an amazing feeling. I went into the pageant saying I was going to win. I worked on preparing for that title for a year! I believe every day is an opportunity to change my life. I believe Miss Gay Tennessee America has opened up doors for me. It was very good competing. I knew I had grown a lot since Miss Gay America 2012. I learned that just because you have improved does not mean you are going to place as high as you believe you should.
Would you consider yourself an advocate for the gay community?
Yes! I believe the best way to help the LGBTQ community is to educate others. So, one thing I have done, which may not be as big to many people, is focus my papers and projects in college on the LGBTQ community. Another thing I feel I have done is simply be myself. I look around sometimes and see LGBTQ people trying to be something or someone they are not for many reasons. I believe each one of us are made to be who we are not what society wants us to be.
What's next for Venus Knight?
Who knows (laughs). I am right now focusing on my obligations for Miss Gay Nashville and Tennessee while getting ready for Nationals next year. I am determined to be a National title-holder.
Where can our readers follow you?
The best place right now would be Facebook. I am so not up-to-date on anything. I do not have a Twitter, Instagram, etc. (laughs). I also perform at PLAY Dance Bar. For now, you can catch me there pretty much every Wednesday, but for weekends it is a hit or miss—never know when I am going to be booked.
photo courtesy of Katy Parson