By Laura Latzko, August 2018 Issue.
The Imperial Sovereign Empire of Arizona is a nonprofit organization that’s steeped in tradition – from the pomp and circumstance of coronation weekend to the formation of each monarch’s lines at investitures.
As Reign XII came to a close for Monarchs Dave McQueen and Akasha Knight, candidates for Reign XIII announced their quest for the throne and asked the community to cast their votes April 26-28.
Then, May 5, the court revealed that Tyra Marie and Eddie Broadway would we successors to the thrones for Reign XIII.
Under the theme “D.I.V.E.R.S.I.T.Y.,” Empress Marie and Emperor Broadway will focus on “Dedication, Integrity, Value, Empathy, Results, Sacrifice, Initiative, Tenacity, and Youthfulness.” And, during their reign, the new monarchs hope to incorporate more youth, members of the transgender community and individuals of different races and ethnicities into the court.
“The court has already done a lot with diverse communities,” Broadway said. “We want to take it a step further and actually bring those diverse communities to forefront of the conversation, to actually have a say in a lot of what the court does [and] what the future looks like for the court.”
To support this theme, Marie and Broadway have already started planning to add a new grant for transgender individuals and a scholarship for Latino students to the court’s Bryon Wiley Memorial Scholarship Fund.
Additionally, the monarchs are in the process of creating a youth line for Reign XIII.
“Youth are a very important part of our community because they are the future Monarchs of the Court, they are the future Miss and Mister Phoenix Pride, they are the future Mr. and Miss Arizona America,” Marie said. “In other words, they are the next community leaders who will be organizing fundraisers and raising money for our community. That is why it’s important to [include] them on all these ideas.”
Reign XII raised $48,184 to donate back into the community. With proven skills in the areas of drag, pageantry, leadership and fundraising, Marie and Broadway have high expectations for exceeding this goal in the year ahead. But don’t take our word for it …
Echo caught up with Marie and Broadway to find out more about their royal aspirations for Reign XIII and here’s what they had to say.
Empress XIII Tyra Marie
Marie has been performing for 13 years and has held local titles in the Miss Gay America Entertainer of the year and Phoenix Pride pageant systems.
Within the Imperial Court of Arizona, Marie has served as Princess Royale and done command performances at the court’s coronation.
Echo: What made you decide to run for empress this year?
Marie: When I was Miss [Gay Arizona America], the court was really nice to me. They welcomed me into the court. So, I fell in love with them. After being Miss Arizona, I thought I could just come to the court and take another step higher, to another level.
Echo: How did you arrive at the theme diversity?
Marie: With me being Latino and Eddie being transgender, it was very important that we highlight diversity as part of our reign. We also made sure our line was very diverse, that way we could [deliver] what we campaigned.
Echo: In what ways has your pageant experience prepared you for your new role as empress?
Marie: I think when you are a titleholder, you have to have a really thick skin … you have everybody looking at you. Everyone is judging everything you do … and I think I have already been molded for that. So, coming into this, I think I was very prepared.
Echo: Tell us more about that. Why do you feel like you have to have a thick skin?
Marie: You have everybody looking at you. Everyone is judging everything you do.
Echo: How does being Empress XIII compare to the previous titles you’ve held?
Marie: What’s different is having to work with someone else … Now, having to work with someone, it’s like having a husband. You have to make sure you both approve on the same things because it’s both of your names on it at the end of the day.
Echo: What are the most important skills you need to be empress or emperor?
Marie: I think communication is most important in this organization because you have a line you need to communicate with. Not just my line, but I have to communicate with his line, and he has to communicate with mine. If you add all of the people we have, we have about I would say 30 combined that are under us that we need to work with…Everyone has different ideas, different egos, different attitudes. Communication I think is very important.
Echo: What’s been the biggest surprise so far?
Marie: [When] you go to a show, you do your thing and you go home. You forget what an impact and what a name you already have in the community. When the voting happened, and seeing all the support from people, you just think, “Oh my God, I didn’t know I was that popular. I didn’t know I was that liked. I didn’t know people have that much respect for me.” That for me was a big eye-opener.
Echo: Speaking of support, what type of community members were you looking for with your lines?
Marie: You want to have people that you can trust and people that you know are going to be there for you and also have that passion for the community … We have people that we kept from last year’s lines because they are amazing, and we also brought in our own friends, that we know are going to help us on this journey. (Meet Reign XIII’s lines HERE.)
Echo: What can you tell us about the new scholarship for Latino students that you’ll be introducing?
Marie: The Tyra Marie Hispanic Scholarship Program means a lot to me because if it wouldn’t have been for these types of scholarships I probably wouldn’t have attended a four-year university. I come from a family of immigrants and my parents always advised me how important education is. I got scholarships every year and I was able to graduate … That is the reason why I want to give back to my community through the scholarship program.
Echo: Any advice to readers who may want to get involved?
Marie: Everyone is welcome. We make sure that everyone feels welcome and loved. Message either of us and we will get you started on this journey with the Imperial Court of Arizona.
Emperor XIII Eddie Broadway
Broadway, who started performing seven years ago, is a former Mr. Phoenix Pride and was just wrapping his year as a national titleholder – 2017 Mister USofA MI – which he saw as a perfect segue to the throne.
He as previously served the court as Baron, Duke and Grand Duke, and has performed at various fundraisers for the court. Broadway also has the distinction of being Arizona’s first transgender emperor.
Echo: What made you decide to run for emperor this year?
Broadway: … I’ve always had an aspiration to be emperor but, because of all of the good stuff I’ve learned as a national titleholder about integrity, giving back to the community and really caring about where drag started, I felt like I had the steam power behind me to continue and reign this year.
Echo: Does it feel like being Mister Phoenix Pride all over again?
Broadway: Mister Phoenix Pride taught me how to be a national titleholder and being Mister Phoenix Pride and Mister USofA MI together is the perfect resume to be emperor. It is very community-oriented, but you have to represent yourself on a national scale … It’s extremely important to remember the national community when it comes to the court system.
Echo: What’s been the biggest surprise so far?
Broadway: I won Mister Phoenix Pride. I won a national title. Those were amazing feelings. Nothing will compare to walking into that room at coronation, everyone on their feel clapping for us and knowing I didn’t win a pageant. I got voted in by my community. My community trusts me enough and respects me enough to put me in this role.
Echo: How did you arrive at the theme diversity for Reign XIII?
Broadway: Diversity is something I discussed a lot during my campaigning around the Valley because I wanted to inform people that, although the court does amazing things already, it needs more diverse communities to come and have a seat at the table … We want to ensure that everyone feels welcome, has a voice and gets their organizations represented …
Echo: Your performance of Radiohead’s “Creep”at Coronation generated a lot of attention, what inspired that performance?
Broadway: I brought it back to the simplicity of showing the trans community. When I started getting all of my people to come and stand behind me, I thought maybe five people would respond to me. I had 14, 15 people respond to me, all different sides of our trans community … I had every representation in my mind of what the trans community is and seeing the response makes me hopeful for what this reign is going to be like and makes me hopeful for the good things we can do for the trans community … I’m extremely humbled to be the representative for the trans community as emperor.
Echo: Speaking of diversity, what type of people were you looking for with your lines?
Broadway: I wanted to bring in people that already have a commitment to the court, have aspirations to the throne, people that have already done the work mixed with people that I think are going to bring in a different flavor, that are new to the court. So, hopefully they’ll get excited by it, and hopefully there is a longevity with them. (Meet Reign XIII’s lines HERE.)
Echo: What else can you tell us about your forthcoming youth line?
Broadway: … We’re not 100 percent [sure of] what it will look like quite yet. We have already been in communication with one•n•ten on how we can make this happen. Our vision is to help the youth line members develop their leadership skills; learn about the court, nonprofits, fundraising/event planning and maybe even performance …
Echo: It sounds like during your reign, you want to work a lot with youth.
Broadway: It’s not just that they are going to be part of the court. We want to teach them leadership skills, how to give back to nonprofits, how to find confidence in themselves. Whatever their goals might be, it’s to strengthen their own skills and make them budding leaders for the future.
Echo: Why is familiarizing youth with the court and its mission important to you?
Broadway: There are tons of amazing budding leaders that are waiting to learn about how to give back to their community. Youth are important to bring to the court to help the future of the court as well as help the future of grassroots organizers. We need their passion and drive for wanting to give back and learn.
Echo: What can you tell us about the new grant you’ll be introducing?
Broadway: My grant is called The Broadway Gatlyn Spectrum Grant. This grant is to assist the trans* community in gender affirmation surgery. Currently there is nothing like this in Arizona … my hope is this will be a yearly thing to help numerous members of the trans* community become their authentic self … This year’s goal is $5,000 for one person; one day we hope to be able to give out numerous grants per year. Interested applicants can keep up with how to apply on my social media or at imperialcourtaz.org.
Echo: Any advice to readers who may want to get involved?
Broadway: It’s as simple as coming to an event, paying your yearly dues ($40) and following our meetings and events. Anyone can join, and we hope you do! Message me and we will talk about what you can do to make a difference.
For more information on the Imperial Court of Arizona, including its events, grants and scholarships, visit imperialcourtaz.org.
The Tyra Marie Hispanic Scholarship
As a proud Hispanic and first-generation college graduate, Izak aka “Tyra Marie” understands the value and importance education has played in all facets of his life. The power of education has opened many doors for him and because of this Izak has a strong desire to share that experience with his fellow Hispanic community. Over the past several years, enrollment amongst Hispanic students in colleges has increased significantly largely due to the availability of scholarships and financial assistance. In order to help encourage and continue this trend, the Tyra Marie Hispanic Scholarship Fund has been created.
Applying for the Scholarship
The Tyra Marie Hispanic Scholarship was established in hopes of encouraging his/her fellow Hispanic community to pursue their dreams. The scholarship fund will award two (2) $2,500 scholarships to students of Hispanic descent who demonstrate strong academic records and financial need and plan to pursue their undergraduate or graduate degree at an accredited U.S. college or university.
To be eligible for the Scholarship, you must:
- Be a United States citizen or permanent resident of the United States and resident of the State of Arizona for the past 365 days. (If permanent resident, please attach a copy of your residency card).
- Must be of Hispanic descent.
- Include a copy of your most recent 2017-2018 financial aid award letter from your educational institution.
- Show evidence of community involvement (i.e. school, church, civic, LGBT, etc.)
- A self-identified gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered or straight ally (showing support of LGBT youth and/or the LGBT community).
- Plan to apply to attend (or are currently attending) a post-secondary educational institution.
- Provide a current high school and/or college transcript (or GED).
- Have a cumulative GPA of 3.5 or higher (or GED).
- Attach two (2) letters of recommendation from individuals who know of your ability to be successful in your chosen field of study. Relatives cannot submit these letters.
- Submit a completed Tyra Marie Hispanic Scholarship Fund application and supporting documents.
The Broadway Gatlyn Spectrum Grant
Medical transition is not just a desire for several transgender individuals, it is also a necessary step for individuals to feel whole; to feel like their authentic self. Gender affirmation surgeries are continuing to be a tough subject when it comes to health insurance and medical necessity. While some companies and insurance carriers do cover medical expenses associated with transitioning, an overwhelming majority don’t. This leaves transgender individuals with an overwhelming task of funding their surgeries themselves. For a lot of transgender individuals, this can be next to impossible. Through the efforts of the Imperial Court of Arizona; we want to make it possible for transgender individuals to become their authentic self by alleviating the burden of the costs associated with gender affirmation surgery.
The grant will award one individual $5,000 toward their gender affirmation surgery. The recipient will show a financial need, their active diligence in following the WPATH standards of care, active involvement in raising the needed money, active participation in organizing/scheduling their medical transition, and show active involvement in their community. Visit ImperialCourtAz.org for complete details.