Miss Davis County is here, she’s queer, and we could get used to it

Hannah Romney lives in one of the most conservative counties in the country. And she was crowned Miss Davis County even while openly choosing to support the LGBTQ+ community as her public service.

Romney started an organization to, among other things, help trans people get clothing that represents their gender expression. She is now working to get a nonprofit status with the IRS to expand her services.
Some of her hopes for Green Carnation is to help provide queer safe spaces, online and in person, for queer youth and sober adults.

After winning the Miss Davis County title, one of her first public appearances was at Davis County Pride.

She then moved on to the Miss Utah pageant, where she was asked, “As Miss Utah, how will you encourage other LGBTQ contestants to participate in the program?” Her answer: “I would say that Miss America is an amazing program. I would first teach them about the five pillars of Miss America and all of the scholarship opportunities in which we are able to receive. But queer people have been involved in the Miss America organization for so long because we’re here, we’re queer, so get used to it.”

While she was not crowned Miss Utah, the title remains one of her goals.

Tell me a little about your background. My pronouns are she/they, and I identify as a lesbian. I am a musical theatre major formerly at Idaho State University. I grew up here in Utah, and I come from a very LDS family. I have always been what you call “the golden child,” constantly doted on by my loving parents and always doing what I should be doing in the name of God.

When I came out to my family at the age of 20, it sent a ripple throughout our family unit. At first, I was cast aside and told that I could change and that God could save me from this “affliction” that was being gay. But as we so often learn, hoping and praying the gay away doesn’t work.

As I grew older, I decided it was my duty to educate the members of my family. Whether they agree with me or not, they were going to be educated. This started me on the path of being an advocate for the other members of our community. After almost five years of constant discussions and conversations about the importance and validity of the LGBTQ community, my family is now a better group of allies than I could ever imagine. They love and support me and my partner and actually educate others around them while continuing to educate themselves.

What got you interested in being part of the pageant system? What got me into the pageant system was actually the scholarship opportunities that people can receive through participating. I am a struggling theatre student, and putting on a show in front of other people for scholarship money seemed like an excellent idea at the time. Until I learned what pageantry actually is.

Pageantry is filled with kind, talented, and incredibly intelligent young women who are looking to make a difference in their communities. That’s when I decided to make a difference in my community by bringing the idea of being a gay woman into the heterosexual pageant space. I knew that I had the opportunity to educate those around me about the LGBTQ community in a way that would make people listen to me. With the crown on my head, I have been able to build a platform of uplifting queer voices and reach people who never otherwise would hear me.

What has been the reaction of other contestants and the pageant organizers about your focus on LGBTQ issues? The reaction from the other contestants has been pretty mixed. Whether or not the pageant organizers and fellow contestants agree with my platform, they know that they can’t deny the importance of supporting and loving the LGBTQ+ community. There has been some pushback and some very strong reactions to my platform being about LGBTQ youth and other queer issues. I have been called a groomer, a mutilator, and just about any foul name you can think of, just for presenting this platform at Miss Utah.

But the positive reactions and interactions I’ve had severely outweigh the negative. In this socio-political climate, I will die on the hill that LGBTQ people deserve a voice. We deserve to be seen, heard, validated, and loved.

Has there been a reaction from other Davis County people? The reaction from the people of Davis County has been incredible. For such a conservative county, they have welcomed me with open arms and truly want to utilize what I have to offer. Davis County actually has a huge pocket of LGBTQ+ people and allies. We even have our very own pride festival every year in May. Overall I’d say the reaction of Davis County towards me, a very gay pageant queen, has been amazing.

Tell me about Green Carnation, and what drew you to it. Growing up in Utah, it was very difficult to find LGBTQ-affirming spaces outside of Salt Lake City. Green Carnation is a grassroots organization dedicated to building safe public and online spaces for LGBTQ youth located in Davis County. Green Carnation was borne out of the need for affordable accommodations for those who are transitioning.

I have many friends and family members who are trans, and seeing how difficult it is to find clothing options for them broke my heart. I figured when someone is transitioning, the last thing they should have to worry about is where to find their clothing. That is precisely why I chose to create the Green Carnation Closet, a low-cost to free thrift store, where all of the monetary donations go straight to purchasing tucking and period panties as well as binders for those who need them.

How did the LGBTQ question at the Miss Utah pageant come about? This question came about in my private interview with the panelists. The panelists asked me many questions about how I could possibly be Miss Utah and be LGBTQ in such a conservative state. They also asked me questions about why I should care about such a small population of our community. The panelists’ job is to make sure whoever is crowned as Miss Utah is prepared for the job. I am proud of my answer. In fact, I am proud that I was able to leave a lasting impression on the audience and panelists that queer people have always been here, and always will be.

What do you see in your near future, and what do you see looking way forward? I see the Miss Utah crown on my head. I won’t give up now that I have started. I believe it is important, now more than ever, to have LGBTQ representation in heterosexual spaces. Miss Utah is meant to be a voice for the voiceless, and what better way to amplify our queer voices than a platform as large as Miss Utah.

I also see Green Carnation becoming my full-time job soon. The need for organizations like this is so prevalent in today’s political climate. I would hope that in the near future, Green Carnation is an established non-profit and that we are consistently changing the lives of those in our queer community.

My ultimate goal is to make the Green Carnation closet a mobile closet so that I can travel to varying states across the country to give access to affordable clothing to trans people everywhere.

If I were to look way forward in my future, I would hope to see an affirming and safe world for our LGBTQ members to exist, and that, hopefully, I have done everything in my power to help secure that future. I want to continue to be a voice for our LGBTQ community in every small way possible.

Is there anything else you’d like QSaltLake’s readers to know? I would like the readers to know that absolutely no work can get done if we don’t effectively and actively listen to each other. Even to those with differing opinions. As hard as it may be — and the urge to attack is strong — I encourage the readers to take the time to listen and hear the concerns of those outside of our community. In conversations where two people of differing opinions listen to and love each other, amazing things can happen. The opportunity to educate is everywhere. You just have to listen.

Hannah Romney can be found on Instagram at @hannahelizabethromney. More information on Green Carnation can also be found on Instagram at @greencarnationlgbtq

Michael Aaron

Michael Aaron is the editor and publisher of QSaltLake. He has been active in Utah's gay and lesbian community since the early 80s and published two publications then and in the 90s.

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