By KJ Philp, November 2015 Issue. Meet the rest of the Class of 2015 here.
Be yourself. That’s not only the best advice Eddie Broadway has ever received, it’s also the best advice he has to pass along.
To see Broadway deliver a performance or work a crowd, one wouldn’t know he’s only been performing drag for five years. In 2011, he saw Sisterzz Twisted, a local drag/ variety troupe, perform one night at the Cash Inn and the rest, as they say, is history.
“I gave it a shot, auditioned, got accepted and here I am today,” he said. “This troupe was my launching point to my career. I was able to meet many community members and other performers that gave me opportunities to start branching out to other drag avenues.”
Just three years later, Broadway was crowned Mister Phoenix Gay Pride 2014.
“This role essentially thrust me into being a community leader, whether I liked it or not,” he said. “I learned how to stand strong in the face of adversity and have integrity in everything I do. I can’t even describe anything else in my life that has been as all around rewarding as this role.”
Although Broadway was born in Skokie, Ill., he’s lived in Arizona most of his life. And while he’s won too many awards to count and served the local community in a myriad of capacities, it’s this single title that defines his career thus far.
“I think my defining moment that this was my community wasn’t until I was Mister Phoenix Gay Pride 2014,” he said. “And even after, I am still discovering new events that define and shape my connectedness to this community.”
Broadway adds, “Community, to me, means support from those around you, acceptance of who you are, inclusiveness and love … Without my community, I would be nothing.”
Aside from his fundraising efforts for the Phoenix Gay Pride Scholarship with Miss Phoenix Gay Pride Barbra Seville, Broadway balanced being a husband to his wife, Carrie, a full-time job, a part-time internship, graduate school and his very public transition from female to male.
“It was a frightening thing doing it while in the ‘public eye,’ but it coincided with my reign so beautifully,” he said. “I literally went from a timid boy to a confident man in more ways than one.”
When Broadway is not performing at The Rock, R Lounge, or Charlie’s or serving as His Most Imperial Right Honorable Baron to Reign X of the Imperial Court of Arizona, he can be found studying for his Licensed Master of Social Work exam or working at the Southwest Center for HIV/AIDS where he provides one-on-one behavioral therapy to clients.
Editor’s note: Eddie Broadway was crowned Mister Arizona USofA MI Oct. 11 (after this interview). Stay tuned for more information in the nest issue of Echo.
Web-Exclusive Q&A with Eddie Broadway
Echo: What’s Eddie’s goal when performing? What defines him?
Broadway: It honestly depends on the song, crowd, event, etc. My main goal is to entertain you and bring you into my world. I want the audience to feel the lyrics of the song as well as feel the emotion behind what the lyrics are saying.
I think the most defining thing about me is the fact that I like to think outside of the box in terms of performances. The times that I “shine” are the times that I am coming up with a performance piece through pageantry or other type of show. I am diverse in nature and like to explore the deeper meaning behind my performances.
Echo: You just wrapped your reign as Mister Phoenix Gay Pride (opposite Barbra Seville, Miss Phoenix Gay Pride); tell us what that yearlong experience was like?
Broadway: It was the most exhausting, rewarding, energizing, humbling, eye-opening and emotional year thus far. I can’t imagine a better counterpart to reign with. She taught me so much and helped me grow as a performer and a man. As I said before, I developed an immense connection to my community.
Echo: Mister and Miss Phoenix Gay Pride work all year to raise funds for the Phoenix Pride Scholarship fund. Was that your biggest fundraising effort to date?
Broadway: Right off the bat, Barbra and I began our “Rainbow Tour,” where we went to almost all of the bars that represented at the pageant to say “thank you” for their support in Phoenix Pride. That gained a lot of momentum and also helped other organizations that were important to those owners and representatives. Besides that, we had the Salsa Challenge that Barbra has annually as well as numerous other events such as the Roast of Mike Fornelli.
Echo: Throughout the past year, you began your journey to become the authentic you and transitioned while serving the community in a pretty public position. What was this experience like for you?
Broadway: It has been so rewarding for me in ways that I didn’t expect. I have had people approach me, in tears, saying how my story as well as my ability to be so “out” has touched their lives and made them a better ally, friend and family member for the trans* people in their lives. I have gained notoriety among young people that are looking for guidance and some insight into how to be a performer as well as what it is like to transition.
Echo: What other ways have you been involved in the community?
Broadway: I have interned with the Phoenix Fire Department’s crisis response team and for GLSEN doing student organizing. I currently serve on the Board of Directors for HERO as His Most Imperial Right Honorable Baron – Reign X of the Imperial Sovereign Empire of Arizona. I previously served as a Trans* group leader at one n ten and as a Phoenix Youth at Risk mentor.
Echo: What are some causes you’re passionate about?
Broadway: Transgender rights and advocacy, health care reform, international human rights violations, sustainability and environmentalism (bioethics) and HIV/AIDS.
Echo: Who are some of your role models/inspirations and why?
Broadway: My wife. She is has the highest level of integrity. She is tough as nails. She is passionate and has a fire about her. She believes in justice and fairness to the nth degree.
My mother. She has overcome a lot of pain and trauma in her life. She raised me and my siblings pretty much by herself. She is still so youthful and has not aged one bit, but is the wisest woman ever.
Lucas Cullum (Gunner Gatlyn). He is one of the kindest, most giving people on this earth. He is devoted, passionate and extremely trustworthy. He does everything for everyone with no questions asked. In my drag career, I always ask myself, WWGD? (What Would Gunner Do?)
Echo: Tell us more about your wife, Carrie; how and when did you two meet?
Broadway: We met in February 2011 at Cash Inn. It was my first time going out in a while and actually having the intention to “get a girls’ number.” It was the same thing for her as well. We had both broken up with our ex’s in November and were looking to start dating. I went out with a close friend of mine and she was also out with a close friend of hers. Me and my friend knew her friend and started hanging out. I asked him if he was dating her. He said, “Carrie? Oh, no … we are just friends! Why, do you want me to hook it up??” I tried to be all suave with her, but it didn’t work. She ended up being the one to hit on ME and get MY number!
Echo: How she has she help and supported you in your career?
Broadway: How has she NOT helped me! Her being there and staying with me through this is help and support enough! All the late nights, busy days and times when things get pushed aside for drag, she has stood by me. She has helped with costumes, choreography, ideas and so much more. She is the person I can vent to and the person that I know has my back, even when it feels like the world is on my shoulders.
Echo: Anything else you’d like to tell us about her or your journey together?
Broadway: Our wedding day was amazing and so serendipitous. That morning of our wedding, March 23, 2013, they were having the marriage equality walk right down the street from where we were (Heritage Square). I had a friend that held a sign in honor of us during the walk. You could genuinely feel the love in the air from them as we got married that night. Also, she was with my pre-transition and has stood by me. This really challenged BOTH of our identities and has been a huge learning process. The fact that she has stayed with a man even though she married a woman is my confirmation that we know how to make love stay.
Echo: Where do you see yourself five years from now?
Broadway: I really try hard to not think that far – it gives me anxiety! But I would have to say, promoting and/or working with other drag performers on their craft and working in my own practice with other behavioral health clinicians. Maybe traveling with my wife!